Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) Scones

The classic flavor combination of rich, aged cheese and robust black pepper delivers a punch of umami flavor; that unctuous, savory taste that makes you say "yum" after one bite. Known as "cacio e pepe" by Italians, the cheese and pepper pairing is something we can all get behind, especially when folded into buttery scones.

Prep
10 mins
Bake
18 to 23 mins
Total
58 mins
Yield
12 scones
Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) Scones

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and baking powder.

  2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

  3. Add the grated cheese and mix until evenly combined.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  

  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Using a bowl scraper or a large spoon, stir until everything is moistened and holds together. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle in additional milk about a teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together.

  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don't have parchment, just use the pan without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

  7. To shape the scones: Scoop the dough by the 1/4-cupful onto the baking sheet. (A scone scoop is helpful here.)

  8. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and sprinkle with additional cheese and a bit of black pepper, if desired.

  9. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Chilling the scones relaxes the gluten in the flour, making the scones more tender and allowing them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which makes the scones a bit flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the upper third.

  10. To bake the scones: Bake the scones in the upper part of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they're a light golden brown.

  11. Remove the scones from the oven and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm; they're delicious as is and extra-tasty with a pat of salted butter on top.

  12. Storage information: When the scones are completely cool, wrap and store them at room temperature for up to several days. To reheat room-temperature scones, place them on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Why the range in milk? Flour is like a sponge; it absorbs liquid during humid weather, and dries out in dry weather. In summer or when it's hot and humid, use the lesser amount of milk in this recipe; during winter, or when it's very dry, use the greater amount. Either way, start with the smaller amount, and drizzle it in until the dough is the correct consistency.

  • Want to make scones well ahead of time? Simple. After the unbaked scones' 30 minutes in the freezer (or whenever they're frozen solid), place them in a zip-top plastic bag. Return to the freezer, and store for up to a month. Bake as directed (without thawing), adding a couple of extra minutes in the oven if needed.

  • Step up your scone baking game by checking out the tips and techniques in our Scone Baking Guide. It has everything you need to know — from details on shaping to add-ins to glazes and more — to make scones like a pro.