It’s almost the end of cherry tomato season and I haven’t posted either of the cherry tomato recipes I tested! Is it odd that both recipes are scones? Given my love for all breads, especially great scones, it’s not very surprising. Still, I’d never considered cherry tomatoes as a potential fruit in my scones before flipping through Fresh Pantry and finding a recipe for tomato scones.
The fresh tomato scones from Fresh Pantry didn’t turn out the way I expected them to… a more accurate description of my result would be caramelized tomato cornmeal cookies. I poked around for other tomato scone recipes and found the tomato thyme scones in the Vegetable Butcher. The two recipes could not be more different: one a traditional dough, with subtle fragrance from fresh thyme and cherry tomatoes baked into the scone like berries. The other is a tender buttermilk and cornmeal dough, into which honey-roasted cherry tomatoes are folded in. Both are excellent (even when they didn’t turn out as expected).
I was skeptical of halving my cherry tomatoes as the recipe instructs, fearing seedy, messy, ugly scones. Instead, I left my cherry tomatoes whole and I think it worked out well. Although the author describes these as crumbly, the texture of my tomato thyme scones was tender, with some similarity to a soft biscuit. The cherry tomatoes provided a nice contrast to the rest of the scone, matched the floral thyme flavor beautifully, and gave a burst of sweetness when bitten into. Eat them warm, with a bit of butter and some nice salt or a bit of cheese. Everyone who tried them liked them, except a friend’s 5-year-old, who apparently doesn’t like eating anything.
Grating butter for scones with a box grater is a genius tip, and you should probably apply it to every scone recipe you ever make. It is so much simpler than dragging out a food processor or chopping up butter, chilling it again, and then carefully rubbing it into the dough. It does require you to pay attention, because grating cold butter will obviously lead to the butter getting warmer, and your fingers getting slippery. I cut and chill the butter into 3-4 tablespoon hunks, then use the butter wrapper around the bottom of the knob of butter I’m grating for as long as possible.
I used the dairy I had available in my fridge, mixing equal parts brown rice milk and skim milk, plus a dash of cream. When I made these the first time, I found the dough for my tomato thyme scones to be quite wet and I didn’t need to add the full amount of dairy. Since the dough was so wet, not at all crumbly as described, it was difficult to cut the dough, especially without accidentally severing one of the tomatoes. Patting the dough out into a round on a floured piece of parchment and then chilling the dough for 10-15 minutes before cutting it with a 3-inch round biscuit cutter worked best. After cutting into rounds, I froze the dough before baking (at least another 30 minutes or up to 1 month in a freezer-safe container). Bake them at 400 F straight from frozen for about 25-26 minutes.
Unfortunately, these tomato thyme scones do not keep well at all. They need to be consumed the same day they are made, preferably still warm from baking. If you do find yourself with leftovers, I would suggest freezing them and then resuscitating them with a brief reheat in the oven.
It was a little alarming how different my dough came out the first time I made these in comparison to the authors’ description. Perhaps it was the extreme humidity of summer here? It was difficult to complain since the result was delicious. Still, I wanted to double-check these before posting them, and lo, the second time I made these tomato thyme scones, my dough was crumbly with only 1/2 cup liquid added. I needed an additional 1/4 cup of dairy to get the dough to come together. I’m not sure if I somehow doubled the amount of milk specified or if I really can blame the first batch on my crazy humid summer, but I am comfortable assuring you this recipe works as written now.
- 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
- 1½ cups cherry, grape, or pear tomatoes (left whole or halved or quartered if you desire)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, barely chopped
- ½ cup cold whole milk or other milk of your choice, plus another 1-4 tablespoons as necessary
- For topping: 1 large egg
- in a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- Grate in the butter using a box grater.
- Gently combine the butter and flour mixture with your hands, breaking and separating large pieces of stuck-together butter.
- Cover the mixture and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
- Stir the tomatoes and thyme into the chilled flour. Slowly pour in the ½ cup milk while gently folding everything together until the dough just comes together and begins to stick. If the dough is not coming together, add more dairy, 1 tablespoon at a time. Do not overmix.
- Lightly flour a cutting board or a 10-inch piece of parchment paper on your clean countertop. Gently transfer the dough to this work surface, and press into a flattened circle about 1-inch thick and 8-inches in diameter. Freeze for 10-15 minutes until firm enough to cut.
- Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, make 8 rounds of dough, being careful not to cut through the tomatoes (if you didn't already cut them). Alternatively, use a knife to cut the dough into eighths.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and carefully lay your scone rounds onto the sheet. Cover and place in freezer for 30 minutes. If storing for longer, freeze for one hour, then place in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc to store for up to one month.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg together with 2 teaspoons of water. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- After 30 minutes of chilling in the freezer and once the oven has pre-heated, remove the scone dough from the freezer and brush the top of each with some of the egg wash.
- Bake until cooked through, slightly firm, and lightly golden, about 25-26 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with butter, flaked sea salt, or a cheese of your choice (goat, cheddar, feta, or brie would be lovely).