10 August 2013

Paleo Scones (with Dark Chocolate)

Let me back up a second and offer a bit of explanation as to why the past few baked good recipes on here have been designated "Paleo." No- I'm not turning into a cavewoman and I'm not suddenly against grain. But I'm sure you're wondering why,  just a few months after I posted super flaky, floury currant scones on here and rye tart dough a few weeks ago, almond flour has been dominating the baked goods on here the past two posts.

It's because of love...
It's because of a guy...
Isn't it always? 

My boyfriend has been experimenting with a predominantly grain-free, low sugar diet the past few weeks to address gut flora balance and inflammation through diet. While many come to the Paleo and Specific Carbohydrate diets through fitness inclination alone, many use it as a means to heal intestinal and internal medical problems without medicine. It isn't clear whether gluten intolerance or allergies contribute to these issues but many find symptomatic relief through starving the yeast in the gut by avoiding ingesting it. It does seem to calm things down, and it's not so radical when you think about it.

On the non-sweet front lately, we've been having a lot of fish, eggs, veggies, some fruit, chicken, lentils, yogurt, nuts, seeds and good cheeses. Ed also eats red meat but I don't. Thankfully, this wasn't a huge change for either of us to commit to as I've never been quite into the bread basket, but find small doses of grain to be good for me. Thanks to a great many other blogs out there like Roost, Comfy Belly, Tasty Yummies, Elana's Pantry and Nom Nom Paleo, from where these scones were inspired, I am happy to say that I am on board to experiment as a baker and turn out some tasty treats. Have no fear, I'm still a sucker for a good bran muffin, (in fact I'm planning to post another one soon) but I'm pretty impressed with how almond flour fares in the mix so far. So, by all means, if you're up for a change or Paleo and craving a good scone that that rises and tastes delicious, read on and give these a go.

Scones. Where to start. I'd say this year I finessed a good wheat flour scone and now I had given myself the challenge to use no wheat or grains at all and still turn out something worth it. So, from a baking-nerd perspective, I spent the day before I made these doing a bit of net-surfing and struggled to lift myself out of a deep Pinterest hole, before deciding on a recipe, and then spent morning after I made them, quite curious. I was pleasantly surprised. You'd think, with no flour or gluten, that a scone would fall apart. But this is where technique comes in. Yes, ingredients matter but when you're working with grain/gluten free flours, you still have to employ technique. And what it came down to here, was using the same technique I'd use in a regular scone. Not melted butter or oil, but very cold (frozen and grated) grass-fed butter. And I thank Nom Nom Paleo for that tip.While I was too preoccupied to take photos during the mixing process, Nom has some of the dough coming together if you're interested.

I made a few changes to Nom's recipe but not anything major. I skipped the dried cherries and just used (a little less) chopped dark chocolate. I added a pinch of cinnamon and I halved it. That's it. The dough comes together like this: Almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon are mixed. Frozen butter grated in and tossed a bit. An egg, some honey and apple cider vinegar are mixed and poured in, the two are combined and the chocolate is thrown in. At this point I employed a bit of flattening and stacking of the dough in the shaping process and threw them in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking them off which gives them height like I would a flour scone. It's important as always to cool them for about ten good minutes before digging in. They are ever so slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. And yes, once split, we spread milk jam on these. I'll be making them again.

Paleo Almond Flour Scones with Dark Chocolate

Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo. Makes 4 scones

1 1/2 cups Blanched Almond Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter (frozen overnight, grated on a box grater)
1 large organic egg
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce chopped good dark chocolate (note: I chopped the night before and kept in fridge so it stayed solid as it's hot here)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Grate in your frozen butter, toss with your fingers a bit and work it in just a touch by rubbing (but having grated it allows you to do less of that). Set the bowl in the freezer.

In a small bowl, combine egg, honey, vanilla, vinegar and mix very well. Set that in the freezer for a second too while you line a sheet pan with parchment, set it aside.

Make a well in the center of the dry bowl, pour in the wet slowly while working from the outside to the center, moistening the dough with your fingers. Throw in the chocolate, and mix with your hand until a nice chunky dough forms that holds together. Don't spend too long on this.

Dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use a bench scraper to push the sides of the dough in to form a rectangle and the heel of your hand to flatten a bit. Now cut it in half and stack one piece on top of the other. Repeat. If things get sticky, use plastic on top of the dough as well. Shape into a rectangle again 3/4 inch thick, then place in freezer for a few moments (I cleaned out my bowls during this time : )) Now place the dough on the parchment, cut into four equal slices. If you want you can put the tray into the freezer again. I did so for just a minute.

Bake in the oven 20-25 minutes. They should be brown on top and bottom, have risen a bit and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool a few minutes on the tray, then a few more minutes on a wire rack. Enjoy split with a bit of spread or jam/butter (they are just lightly sweet on their own)

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