Summer Book Stack & Novel-Inspired Cheese Scones

my much-too-ambitious book stack/ summer 2019

Hop straight to the recipe HERE .

Every May I stack up a tower of books for Summer Reading. I never complete the stack, but rather it is my pile from which to pull for the summer. This year it is entirely too large, but there are so many books that I have started that I need to finish, or ones that I have bought and wanted to read, but haven’t had the chance.  Also, additional books that aren’t on my pile are usually added during the summer- as ones are suggested, or enter my life and skip line to the front of the queue. This year’s summer reading list includes many styles and topics from a variety of authors, speaking to my passions (food, the human experience, walking, faith, hospitality, cooking, relationships, care for the soul, etc.).  I can’t wait to learn from these authors! 

  • Afoot and Light Hearted by my Belmont colleague Bonnie Smith Whitehouse
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
  • Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss
  • A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle
  • Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Besset Van Der Kolk
  • Made for Friendship by Drew Hunter
  • Upstream by Mary Oliver
  • Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett
  • Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
  • The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob
  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  • When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher
  • The Deepest Well by Nadine Burks Harris
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  • American Cake by Anne Byrn

I just read Educated by Tara Westover. It is incredible. I am in awe of Dr. Westover and her resilience and wisdom. I want to know her personally and be her friend! I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for her professionally and personally. 

I also read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for book club and adored it. Dave and I got the audiobook and we were reading/listening in tandem. We would ask each other, “Have you gotten to this part?” or “What do you think happened to her?” and “You are going to love this next section”.  I was so endeared to the quirky, honest, complex character of Eleanor and was sad when the book ended, because that meant the end of getting to hang out with her.

Eleanor has a limited food palate, but it includes cheese scones that she enjoyed from a local café. When we had book club I decided to make English Cheese Scones in honor of her. 

dsc_0020I found the recipe on a British blog and it called for “self raising flour”.  I figured that was self rising flour with a fancy extra vowel in the word- like the English do with flavour and favour.  However, as the scones were in the oven (a little too late) I looked up the difference in self raising flour and self rising flour. Well, they are close but not the same. Self raising has more baking powder and omits the salt that we put in our self rising flour.  They tasted good but I have since tweaked the recipe to reflect the proper balance of ingredients.  I also added the quick but powerful folding technique that I learned from The Bread Bible in her scone recipe as well as from In Praise of Leftovers’ mile high biscuits.  This little folding method gives the scones layers of loveliness.



British Cheese Scones

Inspired by Eleanor Oliphant- recipe adapted from The Spruce Eats

(makes a dozen medium sized scones)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 oz (4 Tbsp) cold butter cut into small cubes

3 tsp. baking powder

½ cup grated cheddar cheese + more for top

½ tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. coarse salt

¼ pint (1/2 cup)milk + more for top

Heat oven to 400˚.

Line pan with parchment and dust with a little flour.

In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add butter and rub with fingers until it becomes a crumble like breadcrumbs.

Add grated cheese and dry mustard- mix together well.

Make a well in the center of the bowl and using a table knife, stir in milk to make soft, pliable dough.

Turn onto a floured board or surface, roll out into a rectangle- about 1 ½ inch thick.

Fold the “French door way”

  • With a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll your ball of dough into a rectangle, about 6″ x 11″ and about 1″ thick- though don’t roll it too hard. 
  • Turn the rectangle around so you’re standing parallel to the long end.  Fold the short ends of the rectangle in toward the middle (like a set of french double doors).
  • Now take the folded rectangle and fold the whole thing down toward you in half.
  • Roll that dough out into a rectangle again. 
  • Then repeat the folding pattern one more time. This time rolling it out to 1 ½ inch rectangle and then cut into a grid and then in triangles.

Place on tray, a couple of inches apart, brushing with milk and topping with shredded cheese.

Bake at 400˚ for 15 minutes, or until golden. Let cool for a bit.

Serve as is or split and fill with yummy things: butter, jam, pepper jelly, or a scrambled egg. We have been eating our leftover scones the day or so after, split in half and tucked in the slot toaster to bring them back to life. Also, scones freeze well when wrapped up and sealed tightly.

dsc_0033I’d love to know what is on your book stack this summer and what recipes they inspire!


One thought on “Summer Book Stack & Novel-Inspired Cheese Scones

  1. Joyce Snyder says:

    loving your summer stack! my all-time favorite series is madeleine l-engle’s 4 book series that begins with the circle of quiet. i have read each of the 4 books more than once and they are treasures. reading was like sitting with her over coffee and i felt as though she was truly my friend. i gleaned so much from her life’s wisdom – her words were great comfort during different seasons of my life. love mary oliver as well. i’ve read colwin’s home cooking and have had capon’s supper of the lamb on my list for a long time – maybe this summer is the time to start it! i remember Emily working through when helping hurts – so many challenging insights! intrigued by the gospel comes with a house key and will write for food – both look right up my alley! thanks for sharing from your corner of the world! now i need to go whip up some scones! 🙂


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