Monday, July 4, 2011
I wasn't sure just how I was going to feel about these scones, never having used spelt before, but I'm pleased to report that they exceeded all of my expectations. Strange word, spelt. What the heck is it anyway? Sounds like something you'd find piled on the ground in a greenhouse, doesn't it? "Just dump that load of spelt over there, right next to the cedar mulch."
The first thing one tends to hear about spelt flour, it seems to me, is that it's an ancient grain dating back to the 5th millennium BC and, secondly, that it's quite nutritious. Made from the whole grain, spelt flour is uniquely mild and subtly sweet. It works well in recipes mixed with some white flour, and it doesn't add nearly the same heaviness as typical whole-grain wheat flour.
Spelt's flavor doesn't come on strong. If regular whole wheat flour struts up to your taste buds like a muddy paratrooper, spelt flour saunters up slowly, like a waiter in a white jacket who doesn't want to interrupt the conversation.
I actually made two slightly different batches of scones using this recipe. First, the wedge-shaped scones that are pictured with chopped, dried, tropical fruits (kiwi, mango, papaya, and pineapple; I didn't end up liking the taste of the dried star-fruit, so I left that one out).
And then, pictured below, I made a softer dough (I added in a bit more cream) to make drop scones; for those I used only dried, sweet, Michigan (of course!) cherries. I brushed cream on the top of all the unbaked scones and sprinkled them with sanding sugar. Both varieties were very good. All of my males (that would be the hubby, the almost-15-year-old, and the 18-year-old) liked them a lot.
Like all scones--well, all the scones I've ever had the pleasure to meet--these are definitely best the first day, as they tend to dry out quickly. Second day, they benefit from being warmed before serving. Warmth revives them.
About this recipe . . .
From the 2010 book, Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce, this recipe is one of many from that source I'd love to try. Cleverly organized by flour type, it recently won the James Beard Award in the baking and dessert book category. I changed the recipe slightly (it originally included only currants, and wasn't patted out and baked in wedges, among other things), and reworded it to reflect exactly what I did.
Spelt Scones with Dried Tropical Fruit (Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, and Pineapple)
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
Yield: 8 or more good-sized pieces, formed either as wedges (cut pie-style) or as drop scones
1 and 1/4 cups spelt flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand.)
1 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar (Doesn't sound like much, but the sugar on the dried fruit, along with the fruit itself, lends sweetness as well.)
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
2 oz. cold unsalted butter (1/2 of one stick), cut into 1/2" chunks
1/2 cup (Or add a little more if you like!) mixture of chopped, dried, tropical fruits (I used chopped, dried kiwi, mango, papaya, and pineapple; or, try sweet dried cherries instead.)
1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus a couple extra tablespoons for brushing on the unbaked scones
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the first five ingredients, putting back into the bowl anything that didn't sift through (like, perhaps, some of the kosher salt).
Toss the cold butter chunks into the bowl, and begin pinching the butter into the dry mix with your fingertips. Keep doing this until it's the texture of fine cornmeal (Or, if you're squeamish, do this with a hand-held pastry blender, or even an old-fashioned potato masher. I've done it all three ways for scones, and it always works!)
Pour in all of the dried fruit and stir it in evenly. Make a well in the center and, if you want your dough to be quite moist for drop scones pour in all of the cream.
If you want your dough to be slightly firmer in order to pat out a circle and make wedges, hold back 3 to 4 Tbsp. of the heavy cream.
Stir just until the dry mixture is more or less evenly moistened.
For drop scones, simply drop 8 large spoonfuls onto your parchment covered baking sheet, being sure to leave adequate space between each one. (No need to tidy up each "drop" but you certainly can if you wish. Might want to flour your fingers first.) For wedge scones, first dust a sheet of parchment lightly with flour. Plop the entire amount of thick, doughy batter onto the center of the parchment, and flour your hands well. Pat the dough into a circle about 10" in diameter.
Using a sharp pizza/pastry wheel (or a very sharp chef's knife) dipped first in flour, quickly cut the circle into 8 wedges, pie fashion.
Using a thin metal spatula if needed, gently lift each wedge and place it evenly on the parchment lined baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush heavy cream onto the tops of the scones and then sprinkle them with coarse/sanding sugar (granulated sugar will do fine as well, but the coarser sugars look more sparkly once baked).
Bake the scones at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or so, until the scones are golden on top and bottom.
Let them cool a few minutes on a rack before diving in. (Excellent served warm with butter--you heard it from me.) Best eaten the day they're made.
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