Yes, I’m still in Paris and hope to be for another month, maybe a bit more. And so, if you’ve got something Paris on your mind, let me know.
For today, it’s scones two ways: chestnut and buckwheat.
I’ve been on a chestnut binge, as those of you who read Tuesday’s all-things chestnut edition of xoxoDorie already know. While I was shopping for ingredients for the Chestnut Soup that’s in that newsletter, I was seduced by chestnut cream (I’m still not sure what it will become) and a 1-pound sack of chestnut flour with a pretty label. Yes, I’m that kind of person.
Chestnut flour is gluten-free, subtly sweet and an appealing shade of pale brown. It’s also expensive and, depending on where you live, it can be hard to find, which is why after I made a batch of chestnut scones, I tweaked the recipe so that it would work with buckwheat flour. I love both versions.
Scones and biscuits are first cousins:
they’re both members of the quick-bread clan – they get their puff from baking powder (not yeast)
they’re both best made by hand – messy and satisfying work
and they both benefit from benign neglect – the less you fuss with them, the better they’ll be
While scones are often patted or rolled out and cut into wedges, for these, I decided to just scoop out the dough and make roughly round, not at all perfect, craggy topped scones. It’s a win-win: less work for you and less work on the dough. And, because I couldn’t resist, I glossed the bumpy tops with a sugar-and-milk glaze.
I also went a little sweet on these, putting both honey and sugar in the dough. It was nice to play up the underlying sweetness that you find in both chestnut and buckwheat flours. Glazed, the scones fall squarely in the realm of morning or teatime treats. But without the glaze, I love them with soup. And even though both the scones and the Chestnut, Celery, Root and Apple Soup from Tuesday’s xoxoDorie are naturally sweet, they were naturally delicious together.
If you’re itching to fiddle with the recipe, here are a couple of things you might try with either the chestnut or buckwheat versions.
Think about soaking some currants or raisins (yellow raisins would be good here) in whisky (or brandy or cognac) and then adding them to the dough just before scooping. Or add some finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips to the dough – chocolate is a great partner to both chestnut and buckwheat.
I thought that adding candied chestnuts/marrons glacés to the chestnut scones would be a good thing – but I was wrong. The taste was terrific, but every few bites, I’d hit an overbaked chestnut that was tooth-breakingly hard. Skip that idea. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a candied chestnut or two in the house, you might want to chop them into bits and scatter them over the still-wet glaze.
If you make the buckwheat version, you might want to put a couple of (really, only a couple or five) kernels of kasha (roasted buckwheat groats) on the glaze before it sets.
Hoping you have a sweet weekend. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday. Bring a friend – there’s always room at the table.
Makes 9 scones
For the scones
1 1/4 cups (170 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (75 grams) chestnut flour OR 2/3 cup (90 grams) buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (180 ml) cold heavy cream
1 large cold egg
1 1/2 tablespoons honey (if you have chestnut or buckwheat honey to match the flour that you're using - go for it)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the glaze
1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Whisk the all-purpose and chestnut or buckwheat flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
In another bowl – or in the glass measuring cup you used to measure the cream - whisk the cream, egg, honey and vanilla together until the egg is broken up and the ingredients well blended.
Drop the butter into the bowl with the dry ingredients and, using your fingers, toss to coat the butter pieces with flour. Still working by hand, press, mash and rub the ingredients together until you’ve got pieces of butter that range in size from flakes to baby peas.
Pour the cold cream mixture into the bowl, grab a fork and toss and stir until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t’ overdo it – it’s better to have a few dry spots than a dough that’s mixed too much.
Divide the dough into 9 portions and put the mounds of dough onto the lined baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. I usually use a large cookie scoop for this job, but a spoon is good too.
Bake the scones for 15 to 18 minutes or until their tops are golden and firm. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack; leave the scones on the baking sheet while you make the glaze.
To make the glaze: Put the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and gradually pour in 1 tablespoon of the milk, stirring with a spatula until all the sugar is moistened. If the glaze isn’t fluid enough to fall slowly off the tip of the spatula, stir in more milk drop by drop. Brush the glaze over the warm scones and let set for 5 minutes before serving.
Storing: The scones are best served soon after they’re made, certainly the same day. Wrapped well they’ll keep overnight. If you’d like, you can scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray and freeze the mounds. When they’re solid, wrap them airtight – they’ll keep for a month. When you’re ready to bake, arrange them on a lined baking sheet and let them sit on the counter while you preheat the oven. Bake a couple of minutes longer, if needed.
THANK YOU MARY DODD for the beautiful images in this post.