Molly is right to be fumbling around in her pantry at this time of year. It’s that funny bridge between the seasons, when the weather can’t decide if it wants to be winter or spring, and neither can the farmer’s market. All of the winter staples are looking tired and pale, while the first of the spring produce looks underripe, sad, and in some cases, downright wimpy. Twice I’ve bought strawberries, hoping the glory that we’ll see in a month has come early this year, only to be disappointed with berries that are flavorless and white on the inside.
I, too, have retreated to the pantry, with one of Molly’s prized recipes clutched in my hand (ok, ok, it’s just on my computer screen, but I do have a laptop!). I’ve made her sister’s scones three times this week, using up dried fruit and flour from our stash. The recipe is perfect: wide open for flavorings and adaptations, simple to make, and extremely reliable in delivering a moist, tender scone. No hockey pucks here. So far I’ve made dried pear and crystallized ginger, mixed berry, and simple lemon thyme varieties. All have been outstanding, and my freezer is now happily stocked for afternoon snacks and breakfasts on the go. I don’t have any pictures for you this time, though, since Henning is away for the week with his camera, and mine has decided to incessantly tell me to format every memory card I put in it. You’ll just have to make do with a wonderful, flexible recipe for scones. Poor you!
One more recent pantry discovery: NutritionData.com. I’ve known about this website for years (it was the first to tell me that brie has less fat than cheddar!), but only recently have I discovered its “Pantry” tool. This tool allows you to add ingredients to your virtual pantry, then enter quantities of them to create a recipe. It then gives you a complete nutritional analysis of the recipe. Molly’s scones fare far better than, say, Ina Garten’s, though that’s not saying much, since pretty much anybody’s recipes are healthier than Ina Garten’s recipes. I’m giggling to myself right now thinking of Deb’s post about Ina’s pecan bars. Oh, Ina I do love your recipes but my hips certainly don’t. But I digress. Molly’s sister’s scones are relatively healthy as far as starchy breakfast items go. They have fewer calories and much less fat than your standard biscuit, plus you can perk them up with dried fruit and nuts, adding not only flavor but nutritional goodness as well. So get to it!
Molly’s sister’s Scottish scones
From Molly’s blog, Orangette
1/2 c milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 tbs sugar
Flavorful additions of your choice, to taste*
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat together the milk and the egg and then set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Using your clean hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar and whatever additions you choose, and stir or toss to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries, reserving just a tad of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it until it just comes together, but not long enough to develop the gluten, no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a round approximately ½-inch thick, and cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat, if you have one. Using a pastry brush, glaze wedges with reserved milk-egg mixture. If making a sweet scone, you might want to sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar for a nice shine and a sweet crunch.
Bake for about 13 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack, and eat them as soon as they are cool enough to handle! They are best warm out of the oven, but are also still good after a day or two at room temperature. Longer than that, and I would freeze them.
*Ideas for flavorings:
Dried pear and crystallized ginger
Lemon zest and fresh thyme
Mixed dried berries
Dried cranberries, orange zest, and sliced almonds
Dried figs and anise seed