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Milk Street Cake and Scones (Ep 423)

Savory Kale and Two-Cheese Scones

Start to finish: 1¼ hours (40 minutes active), plus cooling

Makes 12 large scones

When standard breakfast pastries are too sugary, bake a batch of these flavorful savory scones. This recipe is our adaptation of the hearty kale and cheese scones created by of Briana Holt, of Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, Maine. Dried currants and a small amount of sugar in the dough complement the minerally, vegetal notes of the kale and counterbalance the saltiness of the cheddar and pecorino, while a good dose of black pepper adds an undercurrent of spiciness. Either lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale) or curly kale will work; you will need an average-sized bunch to obtain the amount of chopped stemmed leaves for the recipe.

Don’t allow the buttermilk and butter to lose their chill before use. Keeping them cold helps ensure that the dough will remain workable and won’t become unmanageably soft during shaping. When rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time, work quickly so the oven doesn’t lose too much heat.


  • 80 grams (½ cup) dried currants
  • 87 grams (4 cups) stemmed and finely chopped lacinato or curly kale (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 455 grams (3½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
  • 115 grams (4 ounces) sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes (1 cup)
  • 15 grams (½ ounce) finely grated pecorino Romano cheese (¼ cup)
  • 1½ cups cold buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 36 grams (¼ cup) raw shelled sunflower seeds


Heat the oven to 375°F with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment. In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the currants and 2 tablespoons water. Microwave uncovered on high until warm and plump, about 30 seconds; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss the kale and lemon juice; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.

To a food processor, add about half of the flour mixture and scatter all of the butter over the top. Pulse until the butter is in pieces slightly larger than peas, 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer to the bowl with the remaining flour mixture. Add the currants and any remaining liquid, the cheddar, pecorino and kale. Toss with your hands until well combined. Add about ⅓ of the buttermilk and toss just a few times with your hands, making sure to scrape along the bottom of the bowl, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining buttermilk in 2 more additions, tossing after each. After the final addition of buttermilk, toss until no dry, floury bits remain. The mixture will be quite crumbly and will not form a cohesive dough.

Lightly dust the counter with flour, turn the mixture out onto it, then give it a final toss. Divide it into 2 even piles, gathering each into a mound, then briefly knead each mound; it's fine if the mixture is still somewhat crumbly. Gather each mound into a ball, then press firmly into a cohesive 5-inch disk about 1½ inches thick. Using a chef's knife, cut each disk into 6 wedges. Place 6 wedges on each prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with the sunflower seeds, pressing lightly to adhere.

Bake until the scones are deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer directly to a rack and cool.

Double Chocolate Cake with Honey-Rosemary Syrup

Start to finish: 1 hour 40 minutes (40 minutes active), plus cooling

Servings: 12

This unique syrup-soaked chocolate cake is the brainchild of Briana Holt of Tandem Bakery + Coffee in Portland, Maine. Floral honey and piney, resinous rosemary combine for a surprisingly delicious match for chocolate, their flavors and aromas complementing and lifting the dark, bittersweet notes. The cake has a fine crumb similar to pound cake, yet is tender and light, and the syrup makes it extremely moist. If you can, plan in advance and make the cake a day ahead; its texture improves as the syrup slowly soaks in. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Don’t measure the ¾ cup water and then bring it boil it or too much will steam off as it heats. Instead, boil a larger quantity of water in a kettle or saucepan, then measure the ¾ cup. Don’t underbake the cake or it will sink as it cools. When testing doneness, make sure the toothpick comes out clean and dry from the cake’s center. Finally, to ensure even absorption, drizzle on the syrup in four applications, with a brief rest between each. If applied all at once, the syrup will pool on the surface and turn the top soggy.

INGREDIENTS For the cake:

  • 130 grams (1 cup) plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 113 grams (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 40 grams (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 214 grams (1 cup) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the honey syrup:

  • 71 grams (⅓ cup) white sugar
  • 113 grams (⅓ cup) honey
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • Pinch of kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour the boiling water over top, jiggling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth; set aside.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 214 grams (1 cup) sugar on low until just combined. Increase to medium- high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl once halfway through. Reduce to low, then add the chocolate mixture and vanilla; scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, then scrape the bowl. With the mixer running, add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then finish with the remaining the flour mixture. Fold the batter by hand to ensure it is homogenous. The batter will be thick but pourable.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cake forms a thin, crisp center crust and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, rosemary, salt and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and cool to room temperature.

When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary from the cooled syrup, then drizzle about a quarter of the syrup onto the warm cake. The syrup will not be immediately absorbed; let stand for about 5 minutes to allow it to soak in. Drizzle on the remaining syrup in 3 more applications, allowing a 5-minute rest between each.

Cool the cake completely in the pan, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight (if storing overnight, wrap the pan in plastic and store at room temperature). To serve, run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into wedges.

© 2020 Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. All Rights Reserved.