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Hailey Mahan/MEDILL

Baking scones - flaky and moist with a crispy skin - is an art as well as a science. But an infinite number of flavors make scones a creative tour de force as shown at Pastry Chicago’s recent Third Annual Scone Competition.

One scone to win them all

by Hailey M. Mahan
May 2, 2013


Hailey Mahan/MEDILL

Chef Joel Reno puts the finishing touches on his savory blue cheese, caramelized onion, pecan and California raisin scones.

Scones, the triangle-shaped breakfast pastry, puffed front and center at the recent Pastry Chicago’s Third Annual Scone Competition.

Although the recipe for scones is simple, most people have trouble getting the right moist consistency instead of the usual hard, crumbly texture. Chef Joel Reno shared his tips at his scone demonstration during the competition.

The secret, he explained, is using ingredients that “elevate the recipe.” That means use ingredients to add moisture to the batter instead of sucking the moisture out during baking.

Reno uses Greek yogurt instead of the usual buttermilk in his savory blue cheese, caramelized onion, pecan and California raisin scones.  Also to add moisture, he soaked the raisins in hot water, a process called “blooming.”

Reno, on the faculty of the French pastry school in Chicago, mixes his batter by hand and makes sure to keep the batter extremely cold so the butter doesn't cream and the scones keep their “flakiness.”

“Pay attention to your batter,” he said as one of the top tips to get the perfect scones.