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  • Writer's pictureThe Featherbed Inn

Sticks and Scones (Recipes for Both)

Hello Featherbed Friends,

Ahhh, we've landed in Stick Season, that quiet time between the splendor of foliage season and the magic of ski season. For us, it's a time to reflect on the preceding months and to try not to think too much about the months ahead, a time to hit the pause button, a time to breathe a little bit slower.

Our recipe for Stick Season includes balancing rest with productivity, taking time for oneself, connecting with family and friends, reading good books, staying off of social media, taking walks, remembering to express and experience gratitude. We are filled with gratitude for our magnificent valley, our wonderful community, and our lovely guests who fill our inn with their beautiful spirits. If you were here over the last few months, we want to thank you for staying with us, as your presence has been a soothing balm during a difficult time in this world, both near and far.

Our recipe for scones is more complicated. Many of you have asked how to make our Gruyere and Chive Scones, and this has proven to be more challenging than you might think. It's quite a different method than our sweet scones (the recipe for which has been, along with many other recipes, on our website for a while), and it's taken a while to translate the process into words. But as a Stick Season gift to you, we offer you this recipe. And as with any of our recipes, if you need any guidance or tips, just give us a call.

One last thing before getting deep into the scones: Rooms are going fast for this winter, especially for the prime weekends, so if visiting the Mad River Valley has been somewhere in the back of your brain, you might want to push it a bit closer to the front. And we'll remind you once again that weekdays are fantastic here, and that there is no conceivable way you will regret taking time off or, better yet, playing hooky. Remember that you're not so indispensable at work and your kids are smart enough that missing a couple days will have absolutely zero negative impact.

Okay, finally, as promised, our recipe for:

1 stick of butter (113 gram). Keep it very cold and cut it into bits - lengthwise into four quarters, then slice across into about 1 cm pieces. After you've cut up the butter, put it back into the fridge to stay cold (or even into the freezer for a few minutes if your kitchen is hot).

Unlike my sweet scone recipe, this one uses buttermilk. And for reasons that I'm sure have to do with the way the fat in heavy cream binds with flour (but I cannot say for certain and apparently I enjoy the mystery more than discovering the facts), you need less buttermilk -- just one cup per batch (as opposed to 1 1/4). Of course you can buy buttermilk, but you can also use this fun trick to make your own (which is what I usually do):

Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk. Give it a little stir, then let it sit for a few minutes while you get everything else together. When it looks and smells a little yucky, it's perfect.

Now, finely chop 1/4 cup of chives. When the buttermilk is nice and gross, mix the chives in.

Next, dice 4 ounces of gruyere (or cheddar, or your favorite gooey cheese) into something like quarter-inch cubes.

Here's the mix:

355g all-purpose flour

30g sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Swizzle this around in the food processor.

Now break the butter bits into the flour mix, spreading them around fairly equally. Pulse the food processor (in my Cuisinart, it is 11 quick pulses). You are looking for a sort of sandy consistency, with some larger pea-sized buttery crumbs here and there.

Pour the buttermilk and chives into the bowl of the food processor. Give a few quick pulses until the dough ­barely holds together. If you've tried making my sweet scones, you'll probably notice that this one is a bit wetter and stickier (even though you use less buttermilk than cream...very mysterious). You might need to flour your board more generously than you do for sweet scones so that the dough is workable.

Turn this mess out onto a lightly floured board. Knead this gently until it just holds together (not exactly kneading as you would bread dough...more like pressing the loose bits into one cohesive blob). Fold it into itself a couple of times, and then pat it down into an elongated disc (or whatever shape you fancy) about an inch thick.

Now, scatter the diced cheese across the surface of your dough blob, and press down gently. Fold the dough into thirds, then press it down again. If you get the feeling that the cheese still isn't well distributed, fold and press again. The thing is, you want to distribute the cheese but not so thoroughly that you warm up the dough, which needs to be cold if you are going to bake perfect scones, or overwork it, which will result in overly bready not fluffy scones.

Cut the dough in half (or not, if you want bigger scones) and flatten it gently with your palms into a disc, about 3/4 inch thick. Pat it gently (yes, as you hopefully have gathered, a gentle touch is the key) on top and sides until you've got a nice circle with fairly vertical sides. Cut your disc into 8 triangles (four cuts across the circle). Place these on a baking tray and freeze uncovered.

If you plan to bake these right away, freeze for 10 minutes before baking. If you want to save them for another time, freeze on the baking tray until the scones are good and hard. When they are fully frozen, pop them into a ziplock freezer bag until you are ready to bake them.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Double up your baking sheet, placing one right inside the other to prevent the bottom from burning before the scone is done inside (or treat yourself to an air bake tray, which is insulated and prevents burning). Bake frozen scones for 14-16 minutes (check after 14, but it's likely they'll need another minute or two), until the tops are slightly golden. Give your scones a little tap on top...they should be slightly soft inside but not mushy. Let these lovelies cool for a few minutes then carefully transfer to a rack to cool a bit more. These are best while still warm enough so that the cheese will be gooey, but if you've done a good job they'll be delicious for an hour or so.

PS: You can also make these with caramelized onions, letting the onions cool completely before adding them to the buttermilk.


Karen and Mick

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Nov 08, 2023

Great recipe. Will be trying with my usual whole grain flour. It should work fine thanks to the buttermilk. But at the moment I have goat's milk that needs to be used, so will give that a try too. Thanks so much!



Nov 08, 2023

Woo-hoo! So good I just printed and ate the recipe! (Unbleached paper is best) 🥂

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