Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sourdough-Oat Scones with Cherries and Dark Chocolate

Scones vs. Biscuits
Both are quick breads with baking powder as a leavening agent.  The basic dough of both is quite similar - the difference is in how they are baked and served.
Scones are sweet, served with hot tea (Harney strongly recommended) or coffee.  They often (and in my opinion, should always) contain fruit, nuts, or spices.
Biscuits are typically unsweetened and best served warm with butter or honey alongside a meal, like Vegetarian Chili, for example.

I was inspired to bake a sourdough scone after reading this recipe on Wild Yeast Blog's YeastSpotting.  Some of the ingredients were measured in weight (fortunately, we have a kitchen scale) and so I changed them to volume (cups, teaspoons, etc) along with my modifications to the recipe.

Sourdough-Oat Scones with Dried Cherries and Dark Chocolate
Yields 16 scones
Bake time 23 minutes

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour
5 tsp nonfat milk powder
1/4 cup sugar
5/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon zest
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chopped
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup sourdough starter
coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
In a large mixing bowl, blend the flours, milk powder, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest.
Press in cold butter* until it is in pea-sized chunks.
Mix in the dried cherries, dark chocolate, and rolled oats.
Add sourdough starter and mix lightly until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and pat into a long rectangle.
Cut** into four squares and then cut X's into squares to get four triangular scones, each.  Sixteen scones total.
Place scones on parchment lined baking sheet - brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake 23 minutes or until golden brown.

*Why cold butter?  And freezing scones/biscuts...
Cold butter makes biscuits flaky.  Fat coats the proteins in the flours preventing them from forming long gluten strands.  In this way, the butter buffers the layers between the flour-liquid matrix -- as the biscuit bakes in the oven, the butter melts.  Ta da, flaky texture!
Scones/biscuits that use the combination of flour, liquid, baking powder, and solid fat can be frozen for 30 minutes before baking.  After shaping and placing on the cookie sheet, freeze for 30 minutes.  You get a flakier texture because the fat stays solid longer in the oven, holding together the structure as the biscuit rises and bakes.
**It is important to cut biscuit and scone dough with sharp dough cutters.  Cutting with dull knives or glasses destroys "side walls" that freely expand as biscuits/scones bake allowing them to rise to their optimum height.

A side note, directed at my father, on white whole wheat flour.  My dad said, "White whole wheat doesn't make sense to me."  So, here's an explanation: White Whole Wheat flour is made from an albino wheat rather than a traditional red wheat.  It is a milder, lighter 100% whole wheat flour and in recipes it acts a lot more like all-purpose (i.e. you don't need to add as much liquid to compensate if you are substituting).  It's a great compromise between taste and nutrition because it doesn't get a whole-wheaty texture/taste yet it supplies the nutrients of 100% whole wheat.

In my scone research, I found that The Wandering Eater posted on The Best Scones in New York City in 2006.  It's been four years and these  Cherry-Dark Chocolate Scones could at least give Eli's a run for a place in the top 5.

- Sar

No comments:

Post a Comment