03 November 2013

In the Morning, Scones

Last night we found ourselves at a lively, tiny vegan dinner party hosted by my friend Laryssa. The entire evening left me dwelling in that lovely old-timey spirit that you don't always have to go out to bars and restaurants and events to connect. Crowded around a little table, nine of us learned, discussed, debated, drank wine and ate plant-based morsels for a few short hours. It was that kind of night where you don't know where the time went. When we got home past one, it was a ripe moment to kick off shoes and fall into bed. And as I closed my eyes, I thought, in the morning, scones. I fell asleep thinking of cinnamon and nutmeg, of warmth and cold butter.

I've said it once and I'll say it again; almond flour is a different animal than grain-flours but nonetheless delicious in it's own right. I'm on a seemingly endless rotation with what I put into this basic almond flour scone recipe and today, it was about pears and sliced almonds. It was also about making biscuit shapes with a cutter instead of cutting them into wedges with a bench scraper as I'd normally do.
It's the little things, literally.

Two things take these biscuits up a notch: toasting the almonds and "dry" roasting the pears, a trick I picked up from Kathryn in London that both dries them out and concentrates their flavor. Trust me, a semi-dehydrated pear bud holds its shape and moisture much better than a juicy, raw, steamy one when it comes to scones.

And it's also a step to do the night before. Simply dice, bake, cool a little and store in the unheated (or cooling down) oven overnight. In the morning, the pear buds, as I call them, await.

Warm spices are thrown into the batter too, but just to hint, not overwhelm, and they are baked as usual, cooled in a little cloth, and split for spreading. We topped ours with a little clotted cream (from the top of a new milk bottle!) and some local honey from Ed's mom.

Pear Spiced Almond Flour Scones
Makes about 7 biscuits

1 1/2 cups Blanched Almond Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch cloves
Pinch nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter (very very cold and diced into several chunk)
1 large organic egg
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Small handful chopped toasted sliced almonds
2 small pears, roasted and dried overnight**

The night before: With your oven at 350, dice up and peel (I peeled some but not all pieces) 2 little pears. Place on parchment lined sheet, bake 15-20 minutes. Turn off oven, let pear cool a bit. When you go to bed, place the sheet pan with the pear on it in the oven and store there.

Toast some sliced almonds if you haven't got them already.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, spices. Cut butter in with a pastry blender until it resembles both cornmeal and peas. Toss in almonds. 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 or a spatula. Throw in pears and mix lightly 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 fold it in half over itself. 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 a bowl during this time : )) Now cut out as many circles as you can with a biscuit cutter (don't twist the cutter) re-scraping scraps together lightly and using all dough, and place on parchment-lined sheet. Sprinkle with a shake of turbinado if desired. Bake about 20 minutes (My cutter was 2 inches or so). Cool and enjoy.

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