Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Scones

I make scones about every other week. I like to keep them in the freezer for my husband’s DIY breakfast. A microwaved scone, a blob of unsalted peanut butter or cream cheese, and he’s got himself a pretty good breakfast. I usually make the Quaker Oats Scottish Oat Scones recipe. I leave out the salt, use Featherweight sodium free baking powder, unsalted butter, and between ¼ – ½ cup of white whole wheat flour. I also always use old fashioned rolled oats and never add the sugar topping.

But I was hankering for some 100% whole wheat scones. I searched on the King Arthur Flour website and found several good candidates. I decided to start with the Pot o’ Gold scones recipe. If it didn’t work out, I’d try another and keep trying until I had either found a good recipe or had just given up the quest.

Well, I may never get beyond the Pot o’ Golds. They’re made with white whole wheat flour. I’m able to find King Arthur’s version at all my local grocery stores now, and Trader Joe’s also carries their own store brand. I’ve made the scones a couple of times now, and both my husband and I really enjoy them. Because of the whole wheat flour, they’re very hearty. A real stick-to-your-ribs type of breakfast treat. They’re also not overly sweet – another point in their favor. They are, however, chock full of dried fruit and nuts. You get some sweetness from the fruit and some extra protein from the nuts.

The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of orange juice. It’s used to counter the bitterness that 100% whole wheat baked goods may have. Since I don’t always have orange juice on hand, I keep a “can” of frozen orange juice concentrate in my freezer just for baking. I make up small quantities of just the amount needed for recipes. For this particular scone, I used 1 tablespoon frozen concentrate & one tablespoon water. (I also often use True Orange packets.)

Because of the orange juice, the recipe does call for ½ teaspoon of baking soda, and I use the regular stuff from the grocery store. (I know there is a salt free baking soda available, but I’ve used it in the past and have not been pleased with the results. You need to use double the amount called for in the recipe. I found I could detect a strange metallic taste, and I wasn’t pleased with its leavening power or the texture of the finished products.)

If you’re worried about the baking soda, King Arthur has a similar recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones that uses just 1 tablespoon orange juice and 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder. My guess is that in the Pot o’ Gold recipe you could substitute an additional ½ teaspoon of baking powder for the baking soda.

I did make some changes: I left out the salt, used Featherweight baking powder, and unsalted butter. In addition, since neither my husband nor I are raisin fans, I used dried Montmorency cherries. I love their tart-sweet flavor. They are much larger than raisins, so I only used 1 cup. I think any similarly sized dried fruit would work, including dried cranberries and blueberries, maybe even chopped dried apricots. I used pecans rather than walnuts and completely omitted the course sugar topping.

I formed an 8 inch dough circle and cut eight wedges. I laid the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them uncovered in the freezer for 20 - 30 minutes. King Arthur Flour recommends freezing scones and biscuits before baking. They claim that “…30 minutes in the freezer relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones a bit flakier.” While the scones were chilling, I preheated the oven. I’ve been doing the freezing step regularly for quite a while now, and I think it makes a difference. I start with chilled butter and cold liquid ingredients, but sometimes just the kneading warms the dough and overworks the gluten. Also, sometimes I’m interrupted and the ingredients lose their chill.

Needless to say, I really like these scones. I may also try the cranberry orange recipe because I enjoy that flavor combination. As I said before, they make for a hearty breakfast with just the right touch of sweetness. Perfect with a cup of hot coffee in the morning.

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