Every week, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Friday. TGIF! We all need a way to celebrate the end of the working week, and going back to my high school days, Friday was the day I did something low key with my friends, completely forgetting about school and homework, chatting about the week, laughing, and hanging out together, usually over several rounds of pizza.
In truth, Argentine pizza is one of the best pizzas in the world outside of Naples, Italy, largely thanks to the massive amount of Italian influence Argentina received. Move over, New York and Chicago! You got nothing on Buenos Aires pizza, but back then I didn’t know how special Buenos Aires pizza was. Our pizza back home is very similar to Neapolitan pizza. The dough is soft and stretched very thin, and because it’s cooked in a very hot brick oven at about 1000°F, the crust is chewy in the center and crispy and puffed at the edges, with charred marks where it has been blackened by the wood fire. The crust is usually doused with a bit of salt, which makes it super delicious and incredibly addictive, and the tomato sauce is usually a simple sauce made with run-ripened tomatoes and olive oil. The perfection of this pizza is its simplicity, and I never questioned its deliciousness until I came to the US and encountered other iterations of this Italian classic like Chicago-style deep dish pizza and foldable New York pizza. I definitely grew to love New York-style foldable pizza, and the closest you can find this in Minneapolis is at Broders, where you can even buy it by the slice. My affinity for pizza has also to do with the fact that for the first two years in the US, while I was living on the university campus and having a really hard time adapting to cafeteria food, pizza took on a new role in my life in becoming a staple. The pizza in college was good, not as good as the one at home, but definitely very appetizing, especially when I was really having a hard time with some of the other American dishes I couldn’t grow to like. Pizza took on a new role in my life, transforming from a much-awaited, mouth-watering Friday treat to a basic essential of my everyday college mealtimes. And as grateful as I was for the massive amounts of pizza that sustained me through those four academic years, once college was done, I felt like I’d had enough pizza for a lifetime.
Years later, when I moved back to Minnesota after my brief stint in Texas, I was delighted to find Punch Pizza not far from Bde Mka Ska, which re-introduced me to the the wonders of pizza. Punch Pizza was the closest thing to the pizza I had grown up with, and I was instantly hooked. My renewed love for pizza and my exposure to different types of American pizza styles had me thinking if I could somehow have the flavors of pizza in a different way. That’s how the idea for this pizza scone came to me. If you’ve never heard of Margherita pizza scones, don’t worry, I hadn’t either until I came up with it! It was last week on a chilly November day with winds strong enough to blow kites out of children’s hands and I wanted something savory to pair with my soup for lunch or dinner to counteract all the sweetness overload of Halloween. In a most uncharacteristic manner, I didn’t want the thin-crust restraint of a Margherita pizza, I wanted something doughy and soft and savory as the canvas for those flavors. I guess I was hankering for a British tea meets Italian dinner moment, and remembering that I still had a lot of fresh herbs I had harvested from my garden a few days ago, I created this simple savory scone recipe loaded with fresh oregano, some basil, and a generous serving of fresh mozzarella and San Marzano cherry tomatoes. It was a strange attempt, maybe, because most scones, whether savory or sweet, rely on dried fruits, like sun-dried tomatoes, dried cherries, or dried cranberries—not fresh fruits or veggies. However, the fresh herbs and fresh tomatoes surprisingly elevated the flavor of this scone. These Margherita pizza scones are fluffy and buttery on the inside, lightly crisp at the edges, and bursting with the creamy flavors of fresh mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes, and the earthiness of fresh oregano and basil. It’s become one of my favorite savory scones and they are different from anything else I’ve made. It’s also a good scone, fluffy like a biscuit, and the salt and herbs make them delightfully addictive.
When you put together the dough for these scones, be careful not to overwork the dough. As long as you keep your butter cold and don’t overwork the dough, you will have scone success. It’s best if you roll it out once and cut all the scones out of that first rolled-out dough. The scones will be scruffy and untidy because of the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. If you want to pull them together into circular shapes, after you’ve cut them out with a cookie cutter, use a larger size of cookie cutter to define the edges, applying a circular motion to it. You could also just gently pat the edges with your hands so that the scone holds the cheese and tomatoes together. Fresh, in-season tomatoes are ideal, but you can use canned chopped San Marzano tomatoes. Mozzarella pearls will impart the creamy goodness that holds its own against the acidity of the tomatoes. I should test this recipe shredding the mozzarella as well, and I encourage you to do so if you prefer it, I was just very taken with the fresh mozzarella pearls myself.
If you’re looking for a special baked treat, you can combine teatime and pizza time all in one flavorful, delicious snack and taste the flavors of pizza in a different way!
Margherita Pizza Scones
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter, diced
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup fresh San Marzano tomatoes, chopped into 1/8 inch squares
- ¾ cup fresh mozzarella pearls
- Leaves of 4 branches of fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Prepare a baking sheet, lining it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and basil.
- Make a well in the center and add the butter, rubbing into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the dough hook.
- Gradually add in the milk, mixing with a spatula, until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball, but be careful not to overmix.
- Add the diced San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and fresh oregano, mixing it by hand. Do not use the stand mixer for this step, or the tomato and cheese will mash up together. Mix by hand until the tomato and cheese are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Pat the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it until it achieves 1 inch thickness.
- Using a biscuit cutter, cut about 8 scones and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Decorate with some fresh oregano leaves on top. Then bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown, let stand for 5 minutes, then remove from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
- These scones are best eaten the same day they are baked. You could store them in an airtight tin in the refrigerator for about 2 days. If you want to prepare ahead, you can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, until the day you bake them.
© 2021 Carol’s Baking Adventures