Saturday, November 19, 2016

Scottish Oat Scones

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Scones

I made some maple/pecan/oatmeal scones for my husband's breakfast. He gets up about 2 hours earlier than I do, so I like to have an assortment of things in the freezer for him.  I used my favorite scone recipe from Quaker Oats.

I like that particular recipe for several reasons. For one thing, it contains old fashioned rolled oats. So the scones make a very substantial breakfast, a good way to start the day. Also, they’re not too sweet. Neither one of us likes overly sweet stuff, so I omit the cinnamon sugar topping and don’t put on a glaze. Finally, they’re leavened with baking powder. I use Hain Featherweight sodium-free baking powder. I’ve been using it for over 10 years and have found that it works just as well as regular baking powder. (I avoid recipes that call for more than ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of baking soda. When I first started baking low sodium, I tried sodium-free baking soda but was not pleased with the taste and texture of the baked goods. So I quickly reverted back to using regular baking soda, when necessary.)

The oatmeal scones are neutral in flavor, so they lend themselves to any number of variations. Add some vanilla, or orange peel, or almond extract. Maybe maple flavoring. Use brown sugar or maple sugar instead of white. How about some cinnamon or cardamom? Add nuts instead of dried fruit. Or change the dried fruit every time you make them. Celebrate Autumn and use apple pie or pumpkin pie spice. Add some finely chopped crystallized ginger. Use your imagination because the sky’s the limit!

I usually make the scones with either dried tart cherries or Craisins. Sometimes I’ll add orange peel (dried or fresh) and a bit of orange oil. This time, however, I was hankering for maple and pecans. So I added a ½ tsp of maple extract, ½ cup of toasted chopped pecans, and brown sugar. Delicious!

Tart Cherry & Orange Oatmeal Scones

Scottish Oat Scones

1½ Cups all-purpose flour (I use 1 cup AP flour & ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 Cup oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
¼ Cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder (I use Featherweight)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
½ Cup currants, diced dried mixed fruit, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries
⅓ Cup milk
1 Egg, lightly beaten

Topping (Optional):
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
⅛ Teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper. In large bowl, combine flour, oats, ¼  cup sugar, and baking powder; mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in currants. In small bowl, combine milk and egg; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with fork just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix.) Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat dough into 7 - 8 inch circle about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with combined remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon. Cut into 8 wedges; place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm.

I combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in my food professor. I cut the butter in cubes and also process them until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs ‒ with some larger chunks of butter still visible. Then I mix the oats and flour crumbs in a large bowl and add the liquid ingredients. I try to avoid over mixing, so I don’t really knead the dough other than to combine ingredients. If the mixture seems too dry, I’ll spritz with water from a spray bottle.

I pat the dough into a 7 or 8 inch circle and cut into 8 wedges. I place 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 are chilling, I preheat 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 combining the ingredients warms the dough and overworks the gluten. Also, sometimes I’m interrupted and the ingredients lose their chill.

Usually I brush the scones with heavy cream. I bake for 12 minutes on the middle rack, and then 2 - 3 minutes directly on my oven stone (I dislike undercooked scone, muffin, bread, cookie, pie bottoms).

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