Despite the scone's reputation as dry and difficult, the classic British quick bread has been rearing its crumbly head on several San Francisco brunch menus of late. Done wrong, the scone becomes a rock-solid exercise in jaw strength, but the right technique yields a flaky, buttery bite that holds up, miraculously, to the most deliberate of coffee dunks.
25 Lusk chef Matthew Dolan often puts a scone of some sort in his gratis brunch bread plate. He sent us a two-paragraph long description about how he makes them. We'll spare you the details, but say that they're perfect.
Nopa pastry chef Amy Brown spares nothing in her recipe, full of cream, buttermilk, butter and creme fraiche for an extra tang. She makes a batch every Saturday and Sunday morning before Nopa's brunch service. This weekend look for her larger-than-average scones specked with dried plums and lemon zest. They're served with a heaping dollop of summery lemon verbena mascarpone that knocks plain old butter out of the ballpark.
At Jane on Fillmore, pastry chef Amanda Michael bakes two types of scones daily and mixes everything by hand. Her sweet variations like ginger and whole wheat-cherry-cocoa nib draw repeat customers, but her savory herb and cheese blends are our favorites. If the white cheddar thyme variety is in the case, scoop it up immediately. "I love making scones because they aren't a super sweet baked good and you can play with flavors and whole grains," says Michael.
And no scone round-up would be complete without a Lovejoy's Tea Room shout. Co-owner Muna Nash gets the round beauties from traditional Irish baker John Campbell of John Campbell's Irish Bakery. Served with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserves (from taste-test-winner Smucker's) and Lovejoy's charmingly kooky decor, there's nothing else like 'em in San Francisco.
Are you currently crushing on a scone that went unmentioned? Share it with the world in the comments.