09 September 2013

Simple Scones

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret of mine.  You know how baking seems so much more intimidating than other kinds of cooking?  It's actually kind of easy once you get your head around it.

Start with my Star Biscuit recipe.  Roll those guys through a pasta maker or really flat by hand and you get crackers.  Add some onion and rosemary and use olive for your oil and you get these delightful herbed biscuits (I've also added sliced olives to these -- so good!).  Add a little more liquid and your biscuits become fluffier and less dense.  Add even more liquid and they become drop biscuits, where you literally drop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking tray before popping them into the oven.  Even more liquid and things start getting cakey and you are treading on soda bread territory.  Are you following me?

In this recipe, we adapt the Star Biscuit recipe to make scones.  It's so easy.  At the bare minimum, you just need to add a few tablespoonfuls of sugar and a little more liquid.  Want things a bit more fancy?  Add some flavouring, dried fruit, and maybe some nuts.  Check it out:

Preheat your oven to 450°F/225°C -- very hot!

2 cups self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour sifted with 1 tbsp of baking powder)
4 tbsp sugar
a handful or two of raisins or chopped dates
1/4 c sunflower seeds or chopped nuts (you can grind them, too -- I do that in my coffee grinder)
(1 tsp cinnamon)

Add in 3-4 tbsp of a neutral tasting oil (like grapeseed, canola, or sunflower oil) and work it into the flour, either by hand or with the back of a spoon.

Add a splash of vinegar (I usually use cider vinegar) or lemon juice and a splash of one or more flavouring extracts (I recommend vanilla, maple, or almond) to 1 cup of soy milk (or some other liquid -- I've even used OJ).  Mix this into the flour.  Your dough will be sticky, not so runny that it is a batter or anything and not so dry that it won't stick to the sides of the bowl.

Flour your hands and rip or spoon off pieces of the dough and plonk them onto a flour/cornmeal-dusted or greased baking tray or cast iron skillet -- they will rise and kind of stick together (in a pull-apart roll kind of way) if you cram them all together into a cast-iron pan, but that's perfectly fine.

Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the scones.  I usually cram 8 or 9 into a cast-iron skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes, but if I am making them the size of my star biscuits, they only need about 10-12 minutes.  You want the tops to be a nice golden brown and usually when they get to this point, they are done or close to being done baking.

You see?  Baking is a bit more forgiving than you thought.

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