24 October 2013

Buck Up







I'm no stranger to self-imposed ingredient fasts. Unlike juice fasts, which would probably result in me unintentionally harming someone, I think ingredient fasts or "deals" are great for managing budgets, cleaning up shop and staying creative. I like to think of it as building with the pile of leftover wood I have in front of me even if it means manicuring it a bit, before going off and buying new wood. Simple. This is also the way I get us to eat up the things that can often get buried in the fridge: like beet greens. Just pick out the prettiest ones, chop and sautee and...free greens!

But lately, I've been opting to impose this ritual onto baking supplies. Last week, I finally picked up a bag of buckwheat flour. I've been dog-earing a few recipes with this "gluten free flour that's not a grain but a seed related to rhubarb" to play with, so it'd been an anticipated purchase, but not before I made myself finish both the whole wheat and spelt flours in the freezer. 

 

And as far as I can tell, we're going to have a nice time together: this buckwheat affair deserves the clean slate. Because boy do I like buckwheat. Aside from it's smoky color, lack of gluten and unmistakably nutty taste, it beckons moisture from good butter and cream in baked goods, while asking for little else, and that, to me, is striking a balance: super-healthy super-foodish seed/grain and rich/potent/pure dairy. I sort of felt the same way when I made these jammy rye scones.

I probably don't have to tell you, this recipe comes from Kim Boyce. I made one small change: I switched out the fig butter she has you make for quick apricot butter I made with a small bag of some Turkish apricots my mom gave me and added a smidge vanilla to the cream because, why not?  The quick stove-top apricot butter/filling I made is this one, designed for Hamantaschen, but great for scones too. Though I have no doubt fig butter is awesome in these buckwheat scones, I really liked the apricot butter, for both taste and color contrast. Also, due to an obsession with small batches, I quartered the original recipe. Since there's lots of full batches out there already on the web, I'll write up my quarterly one below, in case you, too, only have a few mouths to feed. And as always, I recommend a scale for easier clean-up and accuracy.


The best thing about this dough is you can and should, make it the day before. Boyce has you rest it chilled for a half hour and up to 2 days, before baking off anyway, so why not just let it rest overnight? Then it's just a sleepy walk to the fridge and distracting yourself for the 35 minute bake. There is half the dough, having slept in plastic, on the table at 8 am ready to be baked. Because we all know scones are best having been just baked that day and slightly cooled. Another option is to freeze a few after cooling and reheat in a low oven.


One thing I've learned from working with Boyce's various whole grain flours recipes is that different flours react differently, as do different doughs, and she's done lots of testing to know the ins and outs. Because of the nature of patting out, rolling up and chilling this dough, for example, you don't have to worry about plopping warming scone dough onto a sheet pan and hurrying it in the oven. The dough is also eggless and thick, similar to a shortbread cookie dough but because of it's thickness, butter ratio and shape, the interiors will stay soft and scone-ish.


And the verdict? Yes. Delicious. Boyce does not back away from the buckwheat here. Nearly  half the flour ratio is buckwheat, the other half all purpose. And even that's a lot for a scone, but it's really great here. She pushed the envelope as far as possible with the buckwheat flavor to really let it shine. If you do try this, know that pretty much any fruit butter could be subbed for the fig. But you want it to be a thickish butter, not a drippy jam.

Have a great week everyone : )


Apricot Buckwheat Scones
Barely Adapted from Good the the Grain
Apricot Butter from Shiksa

Makes 4 scones

1/4 cup / 34 g buckwheat flour
1/4 cup + 1 T / 40 g all-purpose flour
2 T / 20 g natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ounce / 29 g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
1/4 cup + 1 T  / 75 ml heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup / 2 oz fruit butter
 
Whisk all dry together.

Add butter to the dry mixture with pastry blender/ fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is coarsely ground and feels like grains of rice/peas. Work fast.

Add the vanilla to the cream and gently mix it into the flour with a spatula until the dough is just combined.

Dump it onto a barely floured piece of plastic wrap, press and fold it over itself once or twice. Dust hands with a smidge flour,  lightly press the dough into a rectangle hitting a bench scraper against the sides, so it is about 3 inches wide, 5 inches long, and 3/4 inch thick.  I did not find a rolling pin necessary.

Spread the fruit butter over the dough then roll into a tight log, so the seam is on the bottom and the weight of the roll seals the edge. Slice the log in half, wrap loosely with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (The dough can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.)

When ready to bake preheat to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice one or both pieces of dough in half again. Bake 30-33 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.

The scones are ready to come out when their undersides are golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a bit on a rack 6-10 minutes at least. They are best eaten slightly warm from the oven or later that same day.

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