DO TRY THIS AT HOME Veronica Eicken's scone recipe was eight years in the making.
A good scone should not be taken for granted. The humble British pastry that Americans love to call their own can make or break a breakfast, and no one knows it better than Veronica Eicken, the energetic force behind Sonoma Scone Company.
Eicken, 34, is a Sebastopol native with a degree from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Ten years ago, after stints in San Francisco, Napa and Lake Tahoe, she realized there's no place like home, and took an executive chef position at the Occidental Inn.
"That's where I first started making scones," Eicken says, "but no recipe I tried really worked, so I came up with my own. About eight years ago I finally nailed it."
Many legendary scones and two daughters later, Eicken now runs a catering company, the Gift of Time. She's also the special events chef for Lasseter Family Winery and, as of March 2015, runs the Sonoma Scone Company. Eicken wants anyone and everyone to be able to enjoy a good scone, no baking skills needed.
The premise is simple and ingenius. Sonoma Scone Company sells packages of one dozen fresh-frozen scones, which come with detailed heating instructions. They can be picked up from the commercial kitchen Eicken rents in Santa Rosa.
Shipping options are limited to Santa Rosa and Sebastopol—with good reason. According to Eicken—who uses local, seasonal produce and biodegradable and recyclable packaging—environmentally friendly shipping for fresh-frozen products is too costly. "But I'm trying to figure it out," she says.
Eicken lets the season dictate how she flavors the scones. In the summer, there are unbelievably moist strawberry scones or blueberry with white chocolate; in the winter, it's eggnog and pumpkin. Other options, such as salted chocolate swirl, orange cream currant and savory sweet corn with bacon and chive, are available all year. The basic, plain scone is appropriately called "Simply Sonoma."
Since her company is California-based, there's also the inevitable—and utterly delicious—gluten-free scone, made from a blend of rice flours that Eicken developed.
"People have been asking for the recipe for my scones, but I worked on it for so long, I won't give it up," Eicken says. "I finally decided to sell them. I just made the time for it, despite being so busy."
Although she's right on track with the trend toward more ready-made delivered foods, she believes her motivation is more traditional. "I just really want people to have a fresh, portable, available product, and to be able to experience a scone they way I loved it."
In the world of cronuts and cruffins and nearby San Francisco looming large with curry scones and miso doughnuts, Eicken only makes food she loves to eat. "I'd try a curry scone, sure, but on daily basis? I want the classics," she says.
And why, of all things, scones?
"When flour meets butter, I'm there!" Eicken says. "They're so much more than the sum of their parts when done right. It's the extraordinary meets the ordinary."