When it comes to the shape of scones, should we say yes to tradition or no to scraps? Our writer weighs the possibilities.

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Fig and Pecan Scones
Fig and Pecan Scones
| Credit: Carson Downing

THE CIRCLE IS A REMARKABLE DEVICE, yielding the wheel, crown and civilization. In the kitchen, however, it poses problems.

The baker, inspired by the circular scones enjoyed at many a British tea, sets to work. She crumbles butter into oat, pecan and fig. She ponders the ancient Stone of Scone—an actual stone, from the Scottish village of Scone—where British monarchs accept their crowns. She rolls the pastry evenly and punches out disks with a cutter or glass, shuttling each to her baking sheet.

Turning back to the board, she frowns. She is left with leftovers—useless interstitial nubs, the negative space yielded by so many positive little pucks.

She may be tempted to gather up these four-pronged stars, reroll and recut. Treading dangerous terrain. While her first round promises to bake up tender, the second may turn tough. The third embittered. Another option: She could toss the prongs, tossing "waste not" caution as well.

Or she could reformat. On her next batch, she rolls a single circle and slices spokes through the center, yielding many wedges, no waste. She smiles at the warm scones' fig-studded charms, their buttery bite and easy-access angles. She sighs. There's so much to be said for math.

Fig and Pecan Scones Recipe Any dried fig variety works in this recipe—black, Mission or my personal favorite, golden California figs.