The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Half-baked: Story’s similarity to the scone

Rachael Conlin Levy
Coconut-chocolate scone
Hello, Cinderella.

A scone recipe is like story structure, the scaffolding upon which most tales are built.

A good story needs a beginning or exposition, a conflict that grows to a climax, followed by falling action that leads to resolution or denouement. A good scone begins with the introduction of flour, sugar and butter to milk and baking powder. It grows into a dough, sticky with possibilities the baker must resolve: Will you combine dried fruits with chocolate? Or will you strive for a balance between sharp cheddar and pungent herb? Once the question is resolved, the dough is baked and ready to eat.

While the possibilities are endless when it comes to scone embellishments, there are a handful of basic story plots reproduced again and again, whether knowingly or not, according to “Seven Basic Plot: Why We Tell Stories” by Christopher Brooker. They are:

Last week, I did a rags-to-riches riff on my basic scone recipe. I took the shaggy coconut, married it to chocolate and created a scone fit for kings. Well, maybe I exaggerate, but that’s a storyteller’s license, right?

Courtesy of QuintanaRoo.

Basic scone recipe
Adapted from “With Love, From Cynthia: A collection of recipes and remembrances” by Cynthia Collins Pedregon

Makes 8 large or 16 small scones

4 cups white flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup of dried fruit, cheese, nuts, oats, chocolate or a combination to suit your taste buds.
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup cream, half and half or Tuscan Whole Milk, the Amazon essay.
2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed together

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Pour flour mixture into a bowl and add milk. Add your embellishments. Working quickly, blend ingredients together with a rubber spatula into a soft, slightly wet dough. Turn onto floured counter.

Form dough into a disk about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Cut into eight wedges. Place wedges 1 1/2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until scones are light brown.


Coconut-Chocolate Substitute milk with coconut milk, add 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Optional: 1 teaspoon of coconut extract. Brush tops with leftover coconut milk from the can, sprinkle with shredded coconut and press lightly so the shavings stick in the dough.

Cherry-Chocolate 1/2 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup dried cherries.

Cheddar-Herbs 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped scallions, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons dried).

Imagine the possibilities: cranberries, almonds, orange or lemon zest, dried blueberries …

One response to “Half-baked: Story’s similarity to the scone”

  1. mochiv says:

    Those scones look so beautiful too, the way the coconut turns toasty brown. Maybe I will make some tonight…

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