“I asked the maid in dulcet tone~ Punch Magazine, 1912
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.”
There are few things lovelier on a rainy morning, than a still-warm scone to crumble with your coffee. It’s basic, nothing complicated, and absolutely satisfying. If you have everything to hand, they can be warm on your palm 20 minutes after you first thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice…”
In France they don’t really do scones, and are not quite sure what to make of them. If confronted with them over brunch or alongside a morning café, they will regard them quizzically, nose crinkled, and opt for the brioche. If pressed to try, they will call them…‘interesting’, like so many other imports from a few leagues away across the channel.
So, if I have a craving (if it’s raining, if my kids are clamouring, if my wife suggests…) I have to make them myself. Years ago, before I cooked, I liked scones, thought it would be fun to try and make them, cracked a few books and found all the options a bit more complicated, a bit heavier on the cream and butter than what I was looking for. So I improvised, tinkered, shifted and balanced.
This version is a second cousin to soda bread, and a good base to throw all kinds of options into, several ‘interesting’ combinations are listed at the end. The odd ingredient out here is malt powder, not typically found on your baker’s shelf (try looking over in the breakfast aisle, nestled with the Nesquik and Ovaltine), but I believe it adds a lightness and background taste that elevates.
Your 20 minutes start…now:
Easy Chocolate-Orange Scones
2 cups (250g) Unbleached Flour
1/2 cup (70g) Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsps Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 Tbls Malt Powder (slightly heaping)
1/4 tsp Salt
3 Tbls Sugar
3 Tbls butter or margerine
Zest of one Orange
Just shy of 1 cup Lowfat Milk (or any vegan milk) @ 4/5 cup(200ml)
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 450° F/220° C. In a mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, malt and sugar. Mix well. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, add the orange zest and mix well. Add milk and mix to form a soft dough. Fold in chocolate chips. Knead briefly on a floured surface (do not over-knead, no more than 1 min.). Form into a ball,
and flatten into a disc @ 1″/2.5cm thick in the centre and tapering slightly to the edges, @ 8″/20cm across.
Cut into wedges (8) and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for @ 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and roughly doubled in height. Delicious warm, always, but keeps well in an airtight container for several days, if they last that long…
Variations on a Theme…
The basic recipe stays the same (and the orange/dark chocolate combo is hard to beat), but you can throw in almost anything. Here are a few variations we’ve tried over the years…
Candied Pear, Crystallized Ginger, and White Chocolate:
Leave out the orange zest and dark chocolate, add in appropriate amounts of the new ingredients, to taste. Delicious, looks like this…
Apple Oatmeal Scones:
- substitute 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced for the chocolate chips
- subsitute 3/4 cup apple cider for the Lowfat/vegan Milk
- add 1/4 cup rolled oats
- add 1 tsp cinnamon
Cherry Vanilla White Chocolate:
Skip the orange zest, swap out white for dark chocolate, throw in 3/4 cup dried cherries, and add a Tblsp of Vanilla to the milk.