We live up in the “North Country” of Vermont. Trees everywhere, a big river or two, some peaks and a few valleys. At this time of year, this all means cold days…and even colder nights. We keep our woodstove burning most all of the time between November and April and gather around it to stay toasty. As a result, we are a tangle of drying boots and mittens, homework, bodies, and cats and dogs for about six months of the year. It is a bit crowded but it’s also cozy. Baking helps to keep us snug, too.
So I’ve been baking a lot lately, trying to take the edge off. It’s about 25 degrees as I write which provides pleny of incentive to stand by a warm oven. My attention has been focused on a particular scone I’ve been craving ever since tasting it on a hot Saturday morning at the farmers market back in July. It’s infused with flavors I associate with this area: maple, oats, and butter (but not too much). The talented bakers at Bella Biscotti inspired me to figure it out – and judging from the long lines at their market stand, they’ve inspired many others as well – and I think I’ve finally got it. The secret is in the maple glaze and in not making the actual scone itself too sweet or fatty. Technique is important here as well. Make sure to follow the directions in the recipe below for working the butter into the flour with your fingertips.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy these scones and their pure New England flavor in the festive weeks to come. Or year-round, perhaps, and wherever you are – in a warm, sunny climate with a cupboard stocked with maple products from New England or up here in the North Country, with visions of sugar plums and snowstorms dancing in your heads and dreams of lush, green summer and vibrant farmers markets right around the corner (of the woodstove).
A dusting of flour makes everything look better.
Flour blended with visible “curls and coins” of butter, some prepped cubes of butter.
A trip to the Christmas Tree Farm… with a batch of warm scones packed for sustenance.
Still Life with King Arthur Flour and Kitchen Aid.
Whole Wheat Maple Oatmeal Scones
I’ve fallen in love with these scones and have baked them several times since I “cracked the code” on this perfect recipe. It used to be that I made scones using the paddle attachment of my Kitchen Aid so that I could produce them more quickly but I became a “slow scone”convert earlier this spring when I attended a bloggers workshop at King Athur Flour. It changed forever how I will mix them. For really flaky, tender morsels, you need to use your fingertips to work in the butter. Have fun getting your hands messy. These also make for a tasty gift. Oh, and I know – there’s white flour in the recipe.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 12-18 (depending on the size cutter you use).
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 32 cubes
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water for egg wash
For the Glaze
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla exract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Now take half of the butter cubes (16 pieces) and cut them into the dry ingredients until they resemble coarse corn meal/pea sized pieces. Take the remaining 16 butter cubes and add them to the flour mixture. With the tips of your fingers, massage and press the butter pieces into the flour so they resemble coins or flat strips (the object is to have the moisture in the “coins” of butter release steam into the dough when baked and create flaky layers in your pastry). Now combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and then quickly add them to the flour and butter. Mix until just blended.
Place the dough – it may be sticky- on a well- floured surface, making sure that it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should still see your “coins” of butter layered in the dough. Cut 1 1/2″ inch rounds out with a cutter (I prefer smaller scones as they are less filling and more delicate) and place them on your lined baking sheet.
Brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 15-20 minutes – until the tops are crisp and the insides done.
To Make the Glaze: Combine the confectioners sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Let the baked scones cool for at least five minutes (they should be cool enough that they don’t melt the glaze) then drizzle each one with about 1 tablespoon of the glaze. For an extra pretty effect, sprinkle the top of the glazed scones with oat flakes.