Brown Butter Pear Scones

Light, spicy scones studded with chunks of fresh pear are a lovely way to welcome fall. Brown butter adds a nutty flavor to these luscious pear scones—well worth the few additional minutes of preparation. And if you’ve never used brown butter before, you may have a new addiction; this stuff is good!

Are you the organized type? Brown your butter and let it chill overnight, and the scones will be quick and easy to make for breakfast. If you are more spontaneous (I totally understand a sudden, urgent need for scones) you can make the brown butter, cool it slightly, and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes. For best results, use unsalted butter (spring for the good stuff; it has less water in it), though I’ve used salted when necessary, cutting the added salt a bit my recipe.

If you want to use regular butter instead of brown butter, use 1 stick (1/2 cup). When making brown butter you use a little more, because by the time the water boils out and you throw away the browned solids in the bottom of the pan, you end up with less. In this case, you should have approximately 1/2 cup.

Before I baked the scones, I sprinkled them generously with sparkling sugar. I love sweets, so felt compelled to add a brown sugar icing after the scones had cooled a little. Just FYI, that’s a lot of sweetness. You will probably want to choose one or the other. (Hint: I vote for the icing!)

Brown Butter Pear Scones
  • ¾ cup (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter (if using salted, reduce salt to ¼ teaspoon). This will yield approximately ½ cup of brown butter
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, firm pears (peeled and cored)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Coarse or sparkling sugar (optional)
  • ICING:
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  1. BROWN BUTTER: Cut butter into chunks and place in small pan (light colored, if possible) on medium low heat. Stirring occasionally, bring butter to a boil. It will be noisy; once it has quieted down and turned into more of a foam, stir often until the butter turns a deep golden color and the solids have turned dark and dropped to the bottom of the pan. Pour into a strainer to remove the sediment and pour the butter into a small bowl, discarding solids. Chill (or freeze) until solid.
  2. Heat oven to 400 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle generously with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Use a pastry blender to thoroughly cut in the butter.
  5. Toss the chopped pears into the flour mixture until coated.
  6. Mix together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour liquids into the well. Stir gently just until combined. Don't overmix!
  7. Drop the dough onto the flour-covered parchment, and turn a few times gently to coat. Use your hand to pat into an 8-inch round. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 (or 10) sections, pushing the knife straight down and lifting straight up for best results. Use the knife or a pie server to slide carefully under each scone and pull out, separating the scones slightly. Even if they bake back together they will come apart easily.
  9. Bake approximately 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan and place on cooling rack.
  10. ICING: In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain. When scones are no longer hot, drizzle icing over them. A plastic storage bag with the tip cut off works well.

Bring the butter to a boil. It is very noisy at this point!

The bubbles get smaller, more like a rich lather. Stir, stir, stir!

Starting to get brown. Thick and creamy, hard to see the solids in the bottom. Time to take it off the heat.

Strain the butter and place in the fridge or freezer until solid.

With a pastry blender, cut the chilled brown butter into the flour mixture.

Add the chopped pears and toss until coated.

Beat or whisk the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir liquids in gently, JUST until combined. Drop dough onto prepared pan, turn to coat with flour, and press into 8-inch round.

Cut into 8 (or 10) wedges, and carefully slide a utensil under each to separate slightly. Bake!

Mmmmm. Once they’ve cooled a bit, you can drizzle them with icing.

If you make eight scones, they’re pretty big. I have NO objection to that, but if you would prefer dainty scones, make two small rounds out of the dough and use a little shorter bake time.










Huckleberry Buttermilk Scones

Huckleberry Scones watermarked


Huckleberry season came early this year in Eastern Washington, taking us a little bit by surprise. We missed the best picking but still came away with a couple of gallons of these precious gems.huckleberries july 16

If you’ve ever gone huckleberry picking, you’ll understand why I’m a sort of stingy with them. The three “B”s (bending, bees, and bears) make huckleberry picking a real labor of love. I make a small batch of jam each year, then usually just throw a handful into pancakes, muffins, cakes and breads.

As much as I love huckleberry pie, it’s hard for me to part with that many berries in one fell swoop. I like pie, but seriously? I’d rather turn those berries into margaritas! Mmmm….margaritas. Ahem. ‘Scuse me…I’ll be right back.


With just one cup of frozen huckleberries, you can make eight large (or twelve small) light, fluffy, buttermilk scones. Add a little huckleberry icing to drizzle over the top, and you’ll have all the wonderful huckleberry flavor you could want.

Huckleberry Buttermilk Scones
Makes 8 large or 12 regular scones. Blueberries may be substituted for huckleberries if you wish. Make sure to use frozen berries!
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter, increase salt to ¼ teaspoon)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • juice and zest of one small lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1 cup frozen huckleberries
  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place a piece of parchment on baking sheet. (Or lightly grease)
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Grate the cold butter using a large-holed grater, and work the butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry blender or your fingers. Make sure there are no large lumps of butter.
  5. Toss the frozen huckleberries in the flour mixture and set aside.
  6. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, beat the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest until well combined and frothy.
  7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Stir just until combined. Don't over stir.
  8. Spoon dough onto a floured surface and turn to coat. Don't knead the dough - just gather it into a ball and make sure the outside is covered with flour.
  9. *For 8 large scones: Pat into a flat circle about the size of your hand. Move to the parchment covered baking sheet. Gently flatten into a circle approximately 1-inch thick. Brush lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.With a sharp, floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, lifting the knife straight up with each cut. Using a metal spatula, pull each wedge out slightly to leave a little space between each one. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. *For 12 regular scones: Divide the dough into two pieces. Gently form each half into a ball and pat into 4-inch circles. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and gently flatten into circles about ¾-inch thick. Brush lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. With a sharp, floured knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges, lifting the knife straight up with each cut. Using a metal spatula, pull each wedge out slightly to leave a little space between each one. Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Move pan to a cooling rack and allow the scones to cool on the pan.
  12. Drizzle slightly warm scones with confectioners glaze. (Or add a little huckleberry jam or lemon juice to the glaze for more flavor.)
Here's what you'll need.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Grate COLD butter.

Grate COLD butter.

Toss the berries in the flour mixture.

Toss the berries in the flour mixture.

Lightly beat the liquids.

Lightly beat the liquids.

Mix liquids and dry ingredients. Easy, Tiger. Just barely combine them.

Mix liquids and dry ingredients. Easy, Tiger. Just barely combine them.

Coat dough with flour.

Coat dough with flour.

Flatten on baking sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

Flatten on baking sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

Cut into wedges. Separate slightly. Bake!

Cut into wedges. Separate slightly. Bake!


scones vertical

You can leave these plain or drizzle them with confectioners icing. I added a little huckleberry jam to mine to give it even more of a burst of flavor. If you don’t have jam, try this:

Slowly bring 1/2 cup huckleberries and 2 tablespoons sugar to a boil in a small pan. Whisk in 1 teaspoon cornstarch and let the mixture simmer on low for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to cool. Combine 1 tablespoon of this sauce with 2 tablespoons milk then whisk in enough powdered sugar to make a thick glaze. Use a ziploc bag with the tip snipped off to decorate the scones.

Making a tasty icing.

Making a tasty icing.

I know what you’re going to ask. I do!  Yes, you can substitute blueberries for huckleberries. I’d recommend the frozen wild blueberries though, because they are so flavorful.

If I didn’t love huckleberries so much, I’d cave in and use blueberries – but I am willing to ignore my fear of bears (I carry bear spray), my problematic ankle (I destroyed it huckleberry picking two years ago and have to wear a brace and be very, very careful) my hatred of yellow jackets (I wear unscented everything and dress in neutral colors) and the back breaking bending and squatting that goes with the experience, because there is just nothing like a wild huckleberry!

Sounds like fun, huh? But OH so worth it.

Have a margarita scone and see for yourself!




Sassenach Scones

An iced pumpkin ginger scone.

With a family name of “Douglass” on my mother’s side and my married name of “McKinnon”, being enamored of scones is almost mandatory; with shortbread coming in a close second. I think my obsession with all things Scottish stems from the frustration of being denied a bagpipe in my youth, though in all fairness, my folks did try to get me lessons–but were refused because I was a girl. That’s okay…I probably would have ended up with even chubbier cheeks and been the dork bringing up the rear in the high school band.

If your only exposure to scones comes from a booth at the fair or a trip through Starbucks, you’re missing a whole sensory experience of combined flavors and textures. Fair scones are wonderful; basic biscuit-like pastries that melt in your mouth. I have nothing bad to say about fair scones, except that you can only indulge in them once or twice a year. The Starbucks scones I’ve tried, however, aren’t worth the exorbitant price they charge. They come in a variety of flavors, but are crumbly, cold, and taste like leavening. Bleh.

Most store-bought scones are made with the American taste bud in mind: too sweet and sometimes too salty. We expect to bite into a pastry and have it scream “sugar!” This is fine if you’re eating a cupcake (don’t even get me started on Costco muffins) but is really not what a scone is all about.

One of my favorite scone recipes is from an old Pillsbury cookbook. I refrained from playing with the recipe, faithfully presenting it here in all its glory. OK, a few teeny tiny changes. Somewhere along the line small cans of evaporated milk switched from 5.33-oz. to 5oz., so I changed that. And I bumped the oven temperature from 400 F to 425 F. Oh, and sometimes I leave out the currants, and I changed the instructions a little…but those are the only changes I made, honest! This recipe makes a lovely basic scone, perfect with butter and jam, and would also be ideal for strawberry shortcake. I love crunch, so I bake mine at least 20 minutes, and sprinkle the scones with lots of sugar before they go in the oven.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter
2/3 cup dried currants (optional)
5-oz. can evaporated milk (chilled)
1 egg

  • Heat the oven to 425 F.
  • In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; blend well. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

Blending the butter into the dry ingredients.

  • Stir in currants, if desired.
  • Combine evaporated milk and egg; add all at once, stirring just until moistened.

Add liquids to dry ingredients.

  • Mixture will be a little dry. With your hands, knead it a couple of times to bring it together to form a ball. Place dough on a floured cookie sheet and flatten into a circle, about 1 inch thick.
  • With a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, cutting straight up and down. You may leave the dough as is, or separate the wedges with a spatula if you prefer crunchy sides.

Scone wedges, separated for crunchy sides.

        • Sprinkle with sugar and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm with butter and jam!

A warm scone with butter and homemade raspberry jam.

Now, see? Wasn’t that easy? They’re just a glorified biscuit, waiting for butter and jam. Or in a perfect world, clotted cream. Unfortunately we live out in the sticks, and (just my luck) the closest store to us appears to be completely out of clotted cream.

With fall rapidly approaching, I find myself dreaming up recipes for comfort foods. Here’s a recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Ginger Scones that made my husband fall down and kiss my feet. Yeah, yeah…slight exaggeration. But he did eat his way through a lot of test scones, since it took me three attempts before I was happy with the outcome.

Spicy Pumpkin Ginger Scones

Spicy Pumpkin Ginger Scones

2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger,(you’ll find this in the spice aisle)
Milk or cream to brush on finished dough

      • Heat the oven to 425 F.
      • Lightly flour a cookie sheet.
      • Mince the crystallized ginger and set aside.

Mincing crystallized ginger.

    • In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin, cream, and egg until well combined. Place in the refrigerator to keep cold.
    • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
    • Cut the cold butter into small cubes and toss in the bowl of dry ingredients. With a pastry blender or two butter knives, work the butter into the flour. It should be crumbly – you don’t want to see any chunks of butter.
    • Stir in the minced crystallized ginger.
    • Add the chilled pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir just until combined. You may need to use your hands to gently knead it into a ball.
    • Place the dough on the floured cookie sheet and press into a circle approximately 1 inch thick.
    • With a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, cutting straight up and down. You may leave the dough as is, or separate the wedges with a spatula if you prefer crunchy sides.
    • Brush with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.
    • Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
    • Cool on rack.

Spicy Pumpkin Ginger Scones, fresh from the oven.

If you like your scones frosted, make a simple icing by adding milk , a teaspoon at a time, to a cup of confectioner’s sugar until you get the desired consistency. I like to add a few drops of vanilla (or booze) too. Drizzle it on when the scones are almost cool.

Since I now have bagpipes droning in my head, I guess I’ll have to continue with the Scottish theme and give you a shortbread recipe in my next blog. Soon!

May the best ye hae ivver seen be the warst ye’ll ivver see.
May the moose ne’er leave yer girnal wi a tear-drap in its ee.
May ye aye keep hail an hertie till ye’r auld eneuch tae dee.
May ye aye juist be sae happie as A wuss ye aye tae be.