Putting a little snap into scones with pear, ginger and rosemary


While we are not entirely captured by the concept of “cream tea,” Gourmandistan does like a scone now and again. But while there are many recipes, most are too sweet, too cake-like or too dry and crumbly for our tastes. After quite a bit of experimentation, we’ve (for now) settled on this version, which we’ve adapted from software engineer-turned-vegetarian-cookbook author Michael Natkin.


We enjoyed winy pear flavor spiked with fresh ginger, but added a bit of dried for extra zing plus some fresh rosemary that adds freshness, spice and a wonderful fragrance.


The result is lively, just a little sweet and has a lovely crumb that stands up to a freezing. It may not be what they’re used to in the Cotswolds, but we think they do fine.


  • Servings: 6 large scones
  • Print

(adapted from this recipe)

Caramelized Pears:

  • 1-1/2 TB butter
  • 2 small Bosc pears, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add pears, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are starting to caramelize. Add the ginger and cook for a couple of minutes more until ginger is no longer raw.

Transfer the pears to a plate, in a single layer. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. (This can be done the night before you are going to make the scones.)

Scone Batter:

  • 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1⁄4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
  • 8 TB (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 TB chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 c. buttermilk, plus additional as needed

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Add butter to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is broken down though still in pieces, as if making biscuits.

Transfer flour/butter mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add cold pears and any hardened juices and butter, breaking the pears up into individual pieces with your fingers. Toss to coat each piece of pear with the flour mixture and distribute equally. Add rosemary and toss again.

Add the buttermilk. Mix with a wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. You may need another 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk, depending on how thick the buttermilk you are using is. You want the dough just to hold together, and not be too wet.

Turn the dough out on to a piece of floured wax paper. Knead very briefly.

Flatten the dough into a circle about 7″ in diameter. Cut into 6 equal pie-shaped wedges. Transfer to baking sheet.


  • 1 TB melted butter
  • 1-1/2 TB Demerara sugar

Brush the tops of the scones with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for about 18 minutes, until browned.


  1. Proper scones are very like your biscuits, not sweet or crumbly and a cream tea with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam is something even a non sweet toothed person like me enjoys 😉

    • Oh, for sure. The recipes we’re disparaging are mostly American ones. And the cream teas we’re making fun of are the horrible touristy ones. We’d never argue with nice scones, lovely clotted cream and good strawberry jam. 🙂

        • It’s hard to imagine what a spoonful of good clotted cream wouldn’t improve! But we’ve started to get some mighty bad so-called scones here, especially at coffeehouse chains. And nothing can redeem them.

            • I’m sure it is. Unfortunately, our sources for real clotted cream are few. I bought a jar shortly after we returned from England last fall and it was way too thick. Like paste thick. Clearly not right, yet very expensive. I think it’s a good excuse to return to Britain just to try what you suggest. 😉

  2. Fabulous! I am a big fan of Michael Natkin and have posted a few of his recipes recently (he’s from my town). Nice to see a tried and true scone recipe. Sounds lovely with the rosemary. And nice to see these lovely photographs.

    • Thanks! I came upon the recipe on the Harvard Common Press site, and was much impressed with his blog. And I definitely put the cookbook on my list of one-day-I’ll-buy-as-soon-as-I-make-some-room-by-getting-rid-of-some-others list!

  3. these look gorgeous! love the idea of adding caramelized pears. i made chocolate and pear scones a couple of months, and they were moist and perfect. i might have to make them again now!

  4. Yes I bet the smell was gorgeous, especially while they were being baked! Scones are something in my todo list that I know I must make and just haven’t gone around to it! They are really hard to find in Spain, I adore them, and Mr. H. frequently suggests I must try to make them. This is high gourmet though. The scone batter you have here, is it adequate to use just on it’s own?
    The incorporation of pears will be later when I am advanced in scone making 😉

  5. rrwriter

    What a stunning set of photos, Michelle. I’m sure I’d love that scone, too, in a world without gluten issues. :-> It’s so hard to nail the right texture, and I bet this does it.

  6. I am from the Cotswolds…and love a cream tea. Sadly where I live now clotted cream is very hard to come by. Pear and ginger is a lovely combination and although I’ve never had it in a scone (and my scones would be round of course) I’m very taken with the idea 🙂

    • Ha! The Cotswolds are lovely … just ruined for us by a loutish band of London 1%-ers (energy traders, I believe) at our inn. Clotted cream is hard to come by here, too. When I have found it, it was really expensive and the consistency of wallpaper paste. 😦

  7. Such a heavenly combination of ingredients & flavours. I think there’s something so generous about a neat wedge of scone, slathered in butter with a cuppa. It’s nearing midnight & my scone cravings just hit 😉

    • Thanks, Alice! So many bad scones out there (at least here … every chain coffee shop seems to have them). I haven’t made scones much, but these were good.

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