I've scarcely seen the sun in the last month. Thick clouds obscure the light, turning day into reflections of night. Even though my body aches for a good dose of vitamin D, the overcast skies and foggy mornings lend a beauty all their own. Mother Nature's dreary mood makes it easy to stay at home, buried underneath blankets, sipping hot black tea. Comfort food fits the character of the weather. Earlier this week I made a batch of homemade chicken noodle & barley soup; half a dozen hot meals later, I can say with certainty that I'm glad to have used the biggest pot.
Though the leaves have left the trees bare long ago, fall weather is still in the air.
With gloomy skies outside the window, it has become increasingly difficult to pull myself out of bed in the morning. In the summer, when the sun rises bright and early, I feel awake and ready for the day, afraid I may miss out if I linger in bed any longer. In the fall, I'm lucky to see the other side of eight in the morning. The dark, sunless skies make me want to bury myself in the warmth of the blankets and stay in bed for hours, cozy and comfortable. Despite how I'd rather spend my mornings, responsibilities never stop calling. I allow myself to hit the snooze button once or twice, using it to prolong the inevitable first steps out of bed.
With sleepy eyes and an aversion to brightness, I slowly find a way to face the day.
The long, dark weather makes it difficult for me to get any real work done. In between watching television and reading books, I'm drawn to the warmth of the oven and sweetening the air with the scents of autumn. Dark, moody days are my favorite for photography. I know most photographers prefer to shoot by the bright light of the sun, but I adore how the somber light brings sharp shadows and a rough texture to the food. The food somehow feels more raw to me, making the food appear less overdone (but no less appetizing).
These scones were photographed on the dreariest morning of last week. With a rain streaked window and only a hint of light coming in through the panes, I feel like I managed to capture the essence of the morning.
Chai Pear Scones is where the love of scones meets the enchantment of a cup of tea. The chai spices complement the complexity of a ripe pear in this simple breakfast pastry. A good sprinkling of sugar on top of the scones before they go into the oven ensures they will develop a thin, sweet crust which adds great texture to an otherwise tender scone. The scones themselves are not very sweet, so the subtle nature of the pears is truly able to shine through. I've said it before and I'll say it again—scones and overcast skies are meant to be enjoyed together.
Chai Pear Scones
Yields 8 scones
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (55 grams) granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, cut into small pieces
3 large ripe pears, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender or your hands until mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in pear chunks. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat together egg, vanilla, and heavy cream. Pour over the scone batter and lightly mix until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface, form a circle, and flatten it until it is about 1-inch thick. Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut 8 equal pie wedges (the dough will be slightly unmanageable, but not adding additional flour results in tender scones). Transfer scones to a baking sheet using a flat spatula and sprinkle the tops of the scones with a little granulated sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Serve warm or at room temperature.