PERRYSBURG — Frozen Scones are a quick hot treat that can be made unique for any occasion.
Chris Watson shared his basic scone recipe that is his solution to a baked goods supplier that dropped the item during coronavirus pandemic changes.
“The reason I took over the scones, I couldn’t just get them frozen somewhere. People were used to our homemade treats and people like scones. So I got online and I looked at some recipes and tried a couple out. This is what I came up with. I’ve modified it a couple of times and the thing I really liked about it is the fact that you can freeze them,” Watson said. “Most people, unless they’ve got a bigger family, probably aren’t going to eat six scones, but in 16 minutes out of the freezer, they can have two for breakfast on a Sunday.”
Watson practically lives at The Bard’s Coffee, his shop in Perrysburg. It’s been like that several times since reopening during the pandemic. More than once an employee has had to be off many days in a row, as their family members have been quarantined. He rolls with those punches, because he calls himself a serial entrepreneur.
“Genuine entrepreneurs are going to serve their customers,” Watson said, as he has taken all of this in stride.
Watson has had the coffee shop since April 1 of last year. A big chunk of that has been during the pandemic, and his only food service experience was in high school. His lifetime of job experiences run the gamut from small businesses to the largest employer in the world, the United States government.
Straight out of college, with a faltering economy, Watson signed up for the Navy. His dual major undergraduate degree in math and English was quickly put to use on a nuclear submarine, where he became an electrician and reactor plant operator. He was stationed aboard the USS L. Mendel Rivers, SSN 686, operating out of Charleston, South Carolina. The SSN 686 has since been decommissioned. After eight years, he left and went to work for U.S. Steel as a process engineer.
A couple years into that job a life-changing event happened. A blown disc in his back required surgery. With the possibility of paralysis present, he went through the ordeal of the surgery and the long road back through rehab, emerging as an entrepreneur in the gaming industry.
He became the managing partner of Glass City Games, a successful tabletop gaming and hobby store. He followed up his seven years in that business with four years on the board of directors for the Game Manufacturers Association, with time spent both as their finance director and executive director.
After leaving GAMA, Watson returned to freelance writing, a mainstay background job, but primarily doing work in the new media world of the internet.
That wide array of experiences, combined with the need to innovate during a pandemic, has resulted in efficiencies Watson has been able to utilize in the world of coffee.
A prime example is the gloves he uses to make the scones. For sanitary reasons, he has to wear some kind of gloves, but he insists that the dough must be kneaded by hand, in order to feel the right consistency.
The gloves he prefers are the blue nitrile ones, often used by mechanics.
“It makes it easier to work in the butter,” Watson said. “Work the dough so it’s like gravel.”
He also believes the butter should be cold as it’s worked, and it’s acceptable to have some lumps of butter, because scones are basically a biscuit with added egg.
Also use a bigger bowl. It allows one to work the dough more easily.
For ingredients, he also has advice.
“This is a treat, so don’t skimp,” Watson said.
He likes real butter, whole milk and other quality ingredients.
He recommends using different colors of sugar to match either the add-ins or the season.
He has even innovated with the oven, which is a small table-top commercial-grade convection oven. He doesn’t need anything larger, as he will bake less than half a dozen scones at a shot.
He also scores the 6-inch round of ready dough with a pie cutter, but uses a large knife to cut the dough into the triangular pieces.
“When they are pulled out of the freezer, they are a lot stiffer, so they must be cut with a knife and a lot of pressure. You are basically making your own frozen treat that you can pull out of the oven, making only two or three at a time,” Watson said.
You may have also seen Watson outside of his shop. He is a popular featured speaker across the region, appearing at organizations, clubs, and events, as a longstanding member of Toastmasters International.
Then on weekends, you may catch Watson playing his guitar, during what little free time he has left when not inventing more efficient ways of baking scones. He is half of the acoustic musical duo DCTaylor, which appears across the area playing creative acoustic covers.