Cold ingredients, especially the butter, make for flakier scones. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Cold ingredients, especially the butter, make for flakier scones. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Her scones are perfectly flaky. The secret? Ice-cold butter

Donna King, owner-chef of the Cama Beach Cafe on Camano Island, shares her signature dish.

The beginning of the Great Recession — 2008 — wasn’t a year many people would choose to open a new restaurant.

Yet that was the year Donna King opened Scandia Coffeehouse in Stanwood.

She wanted it to be a community meeting space. And she didn’t like a lot of the pre-made food offerings often found in coffee houses.

So she began making her own food, testing a few recipes. She started out with coffee, pastries and panini sandwiches.

Then people began asking for more, wanting her to add soups and salads and sandwiches to the menu. The menu expanded, with two homemade soups every day, custom and hot sandwiches, homemade pastries and desserts.

Then, customers started asking if she could cater events.

Donna King opened Cama Beach Cafe in 2011. (Andy Bronson/ The Herald)

Donna King opened Cama Beach Cafe in 2011. (Andy Bronson/ The Herald)

In 2011, King heard about a new building opening at Cama Beach Historical State Park, on the west side of Camano Island about 12 miles from Stanwood.

The building was designed to house a restaurant, and King was awarded the right to operate it.

The fifth generation Stanwood-Camano resident said she wanted the cafe to offer the kind of food she likes to make at home — “fresh, local, and a little more of the healthy, homemade side.”

Since its opening, the Cama Beach Cafe has earned a reputation for producing sumptuous breakfasts and brunches from a spot that overlooks the beach the cafe is named after as well as Saratoga Passage.

“We’ve had people say, ‘I can’t believe there’s good food at a state park. I was expecting greasy fries out of a freezer,’” King said.

The cafe is known for its scones and homemade jam, which is made in a copper pot. Staff help prepare Swedish pancakes, pies and brownies. The sausage served at the restaurant comes from Silvana Meats; the eggs come from a farm about 2 miles away.

The cafe typically isn’t open for dinner, due to the high demand for its catering services.

For that you’ll have to make reservations for one of Kristoferson Farm’s five-course canopy meals, catered by Cama Beach Cafe. Those events are scheduled in July, August, September and October.

“It gives us a chance to be creative,” King said. “We work with what’s available seasonally.”

Cama Beach Cafe’s blueberry scones

The secret to these scones is cold ingredients. Much like pie crust, you can get a good flake in scones if you gently mix in large chunks of very cold butter. The butter will melt in the oven and create steam, lifting and separating the layers.

The beauty of this recipe is you can make the scones and then freeze them raw, before baking. They will last for a couple of months in the freezer, and bake directly from freezer to oven. Do not thaw. When you want scones for breakfast, just take out one or two and pop them in the oven.

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, grated with the large hole on a grater; freeze at least 15 minutes before using it

1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (see note)

½ cup whole milk, cold

½ cup sour cream, cold (yogurt works, too)

2¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on the top

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grate the cold butter, if you haven’t already, and keep in the freezer until ready to use. Put fresh blueberries in the freezer for at least 15 minutes while preparing the scones. Do not thaw previously frozen berries.

Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed. Whisk the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest in a medium pre-chilled bowl. Add the frozen butter and toss with the dry ingredients until the butter chunks are thoroughly coated. Use your fingers. Don’t let the butter soften.

Add the chilled milk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until it just comes together. Pour the dough onto a well-floured counter. Lightly dust the dough with flour and, with floured hands, work it until it just holds together in a ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Put some flour on a rolling pin and roll into a square about ½- to 1-inch thick. (If you want, you can play with this step by putting your dough in the fridge, then bringing it out and folding it in thirds twice to make a square, and rolling it out again, to emulate puff pastry.)

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the dough, then press them in lightly so they stay. Using a bench scraper or pancake turner, lift one end of the dough, and roll tightly into a log. Lay, seam-side down, and press the log into a 12 inch by 4 inch rectangle, no more than 2 inches thick.

Using a sharp, floured straight edge, start to make cuts, alternating diagonal and straight lines, to get roughly triangle-shaped scones. Brush each scone with a little milk or cream and sprinkle evenly with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.

At this point, you can bake the whole batch, or freeze all or part. If you’re going to freeze them, put them in the freezer on a flat surface, not touching, and transfer into bags later.

Bake for 5-10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn your oven down to 350. Check them again in 10 minutes. If they seem like they’re getting really dark, reduce your temperature by 25 degrees. Bake another 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Frozen scones will take a good 15 minutes longer.

Note: You can substitute nearly any ingredient for the blueberries. The cafe makes cranberry orange by soaking cranraisins (dried cranberries) in orange juice, and using a generous sprinkle of fresh orange peel. Or try making lemon ginger, using candied ginger and lemon peel.

For savory scones, cut the sugar in half and sprinkle with kosher or smoked salt instead of sugar. Mix in ham and cheddar, or bacon and brie.

You can even make them with no filling, and top with butter and homemade jam. Or omit half the sugar and make biscuits.

— Recipe adapted from one by America’s Test Kitchen at www.americastestkitchen.com.

If you go

Cama Beach Cafe & Catering, 1880 W. Camano Drive, Camano Island, is open daily 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from mid-June through Labor Day. Call 360-387-5807 or go to www.camabeachcafe.com for more information.

Kristoferson Farm, 332 NE Camano Drive, Camano Island, hosts Dinner in the Barn July 20, Aug. 24, Sept. 21 and Oct. 19. Dinners are priced at $125 each. For tickets, go to www.facebook.com/pg/KristofersonFarm/events.

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