Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Your scones are scrumptious

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

As it happens, my cookbook obsession has not abated.  I have a problem.  In the garage stands a bookshelf fully loaded with cookbooks.  Stacks of them line the bottom of our garage storage shelves.    In the house, I have finally cleared a messy pile of them into an organized row 25 strong that are propped into the huge space behind my sink.  There are approximately five more on my Amazon wishlist.  Just recently, Luisa Weiss of Wednesday Chef (another famous food blogger that I am growing to absolutely love) referred to herself on Instagram as a "cookbook magpie."  THAT IS TOTALLY ME.

I had been eying Huckleberry, a cookbook out of Santa Monica's Huckleberry Cafe, for quite some time after seeing posts about it on a few blogs and Instagram accounts that I shamelessly stalk.  I showed some restraint at first by adding it to my Christmas wishlist and sharing it with all my family, hoping that surely someone would just pick it up for me.  Unfortunately, my family is entirely too thoughtful to simply go off a list, and all preferred going the "original" and meaningful gift route.  I was, of course grateful, but the minute the holidays were over I decided I had waited long enough for my book.

Almost everything in Zoe Nathan's book sounds amazing. I felt confident that I would start with a tart or something decadent.  However, as of late, my pint-sized "boss" has been starting the day with the refrain "More scones, please!", so I thought I might surprise him with a plate of these.  I happened to have everything on hand, which is actually a great selling point for this recipe, and I was eager to try a new version of scone.  I am wedded to Molly's scone recipes, and can practically whip them up in my sleep, but branching out can be good.

Whole-Wheat Raisin Scones, adapted from Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan and
(makes 10 scones)

3/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup cold buttermilk
1 batch Egg Wash (2 egg yolks, 2 tbsp heavy cream, pinch of kosher salt whisked together until homogenous.  This yields around 1/4 cup and can be refrigerated for up to 2 days)*

1. Plump the raisins in 1 cup warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and finely chop.
2. In a very large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt and toss well.  Throw in the cold butter and work it with your fingertips until the pieces are pea- and lima-bean size.  Add the buttermilk and raisins.  Lightly toss to distribute.
3. Immediately dump everything onto a clean surface with more than enough space to work the dough.  Using only the heel of your palm, quickly flatten out the dough.  Gather the dough back together into a mound and repeat.  After two or three repetitions, the dough should begin holding together.  Be sure to avoid overworking.  You should still see some pea-size bits of butter running through it.
4. Shape the dough into a 12-inch long cylinder.  Lightly flatten the top and cut into ten triangles.  Transfer to an ungreased sheet pan and freeze for at least 2 hours before baking, or up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.
5. Preheat your oven to 375ยบ.  Remove the scones from the freezer.  Space them with plenty of breathing room on two ungreased sheet pans, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle liberally with sugar (I skipped the sugar).  Bake from frozen until baked through, nicely browned, and easily lifted off the plan, about 25 minutes.

*Zoe Nathan notes that the egg wash recipe is quite flexible.  If you have no cream, for example, whole milk is fine.  A whole egg can be used in substitute for two egg yolks.  I didn't have any cream and knew that I was only making one batch of scones, so I opted to use the single egg and not waste a second one.  

My little guy, whose love for scones, by the way, began after many readings of James Marshall's Yummers, gobbled these delicious, craggy scones right up.  In the intro to the recipe, Nathan describes what she wanted when coming up with it, something "as close to graham crackers as I could manage", and I think that'a perfect description for what they taste like.  Hearty, barely sweet, and so very warm.  I don't particularly love raisins, myself, but didn't mind them at all as we shared our breakfast.  I'm already planning for another batch.