Good Morning Edgartown

Famous Pastries

by Remy Tumin

Famous Pastries

Elizabeth Patterson

It’s only fitting that the epitome of country elegance on the Vineyard is met with a baked good made famous by England’s Queen Victoria.

Tucked away off Main Street Edgartown, behind the wrap-around porch and past the wicker furniture, through the kitchen door and into the pantry lays the secret to the perfect scone.

“Heavy cream,” baker Paul Donnelly said on a recent summer morning.

Every morning at the Hob Knob hotel, guests receive complimentary scones with their breakfast. Scones have a reputation for being dense and tasteless, crumbly without whim or hard as hockey pucks. But at Hob Knob, replacing buttermilk with cream allows the scones to break effortlessly, with light flakes and a thin, crisp outer shell.

Maggie White, the former owner of the Edgartown hotel, first developed the recipe. A scone fan herself, Maggie travelled the world looking for the perfect components of a scone—and Paul was right there with her for the first batch in 1994. “They’re different because of the heavy cream. It has a different flavor to it,” Paul said. “We also use high quality ingredients and dried fruits.”

Scone flavors vary, but include some combination of dried blueberries, strawberries, apricots, cranberries or, if he’s feeling “really adventurous,” dried blackberries. His favorite combination is strawberry and blueberry.

Paul has baked these scones on and off over the years since the Hob Knob opened more than 20 years ago. The original recipe still lives on a piece of paper in a binder with the rest of the hotel’s recipes, stained with years of sugar and butter.

Paul’s tips for making the scones at home are spoken like a true baker: adhere to the recipe. “Baking’s not like cooking where you can deviate,” he said. “If you follow the recipe, it should turn out the same way every single time.” Try it for yourself; the Hob Knob packages up the dry ingredients and sells the scone mix at the front desk. (All you have to
do is add the cream). No equipment required–the scones are mixed by hand, shaped into balls and baked in the oven. “We call it an idiot proof scone,” Paul said with a smile.

And Paul’s not the only Hob Knob scone fan. Over the years, these utterly delicious pastries have drawn praise, from newlyweds and celebrities alike.

“We had a couple here on their anniversary who wanted to learn how to make them, so we showed them step by step,” Paul said. “The husband never baked in his life. The wife wanted to show him he could do it, he was a loud and proud kind of guy. He had a blast.”

Even Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader has been a fan. Hader stayed at the hotel for co-star Seth Meyers’ wedding in 2013, and later recalled his love for the small treats on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Many of the wedding guests got fogged in for several days trying to leave the Island, but Hader was happy to return to the Hob Knob and enjoy his scones).