The Most Perfect Morning Pastry

April  9, 2015

Every other Thursday, we bring you Nicholas Day—on cooking for children, and with children, and despite children. Also, occasionally, on top of.

Today: The wholesome, Official Cooperative Bakery Pastry of the Bay Area—and why you should add it to your regular breakfast rotation. 

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A decade ago, I had a corn-cherry scone at the Cheese Board in Berkeley. It was delicious. A week later, I had a corn-cherry scone at an Arizmendi bakery in San Francisco. It was delicious. I think of the corn-cherry scone as the Official Cooperative Bakery Pastry of the Bay Area. That may not be a state-recognized designation, though. 

It is the perfect morning pastry, or at least the perfect morning pastry from a decade ago—an innocent time—back before new pastries came with trademarks and formerly obscure delicacies like kouign amann started showing up in the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s. As far as I can tell, the morning pastry of our new era is designed to blow out all your neural circuits immediately after coffee has restored them. 

I like kouign amann as much as the next dissolute hedonist, but sometimes a scone will do. 

The Official Cooperative Bakery Pastry of the Bay Area is uncomplicated; you can make it with children, even your children. It is just sweet enough, and just savory enough that the sweetness of dried cherries is a perfect counterpoint. It is also just gritty enough. Grittiness is not a subject that gets a lot of play in baking cookbooks—it gets more play in developmental psychology papers—but medium-grind cornmeal is perfect here. It gives the scone texture and wholesomeness; it makes the scone feel earned. Did you earn it? Probably not. (Can you still make it with fine cornmeal? Yes, you can.)

Fair warning: It is extremely crumbly, and if you are eating with people whose fine motor control is somewhat uncontrolled, your floor will need to be swept afterward. But crumbs are an inevitable consequence of enthusiasm. And your floor needed to be swept anyway. Doesn’t it look better now? 

Cornmeal-Cherry Scones

Makes 14 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (medium grind, but fine is fine too)
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup dried sweet cherries
1 cup buttermilk

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here. 

Photos by Mark Weinberg

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ali
  • fiveandspice
  • Fairmount_market
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.


Ali July 8, 2015
This recipe looks interesting, but it would be so much more interesting and I would try it if actual weights were given for the ingredients, instead of cups of flour and sticks of butter.
fiveandspice April 12, 2015
This is my favorite scone from the Cheese Board too. Though usually if O find myself at the Cheese Board I get a chocolate thing instead of a scone. Also, I've discovered in discussing cornmeal in baked goods, if you call grittiness "nubbly-ness" instead, nobody questions your baking skills, and you feel like maybe you sound a bit like Nigel Slater, which is a very good feeling. :)
Fairmount_market April 9, 2015
I'm certain I ate just such a scone about a decade ago at the Cheese Board! A wonderful flash from the past. More recently (last weekend) I made yogurt scones from Chocolate and Zucchini with my son, and the dough was very forgiving and not too crumbly. I substituted about 1/4 of the white flour for corn meal, because great minds think alike.