We have been baking for the last two weeks in school and only have a few more days until we are finished with the module. Even though I have been baking since I was a little girl I learned a lot in this class. Mostly I learned that baking takes practice. Through repetition you learn when something has cooked enough, when a dough is wet or dry enough, and when you have kneaded a dough long enough. I also decided that gluten free items are mostly not worth the trouble, and vegan is not necessarily healthy. Don't be fooled just because something is labeled vegan - it can still be full of sugar, white flour, unhealthy fats, and processed ingredients. There are a few gluten free things we made that I thought were good, but most just don't have the right texture. They are kind of spongey and just a bit odd. To get texture to replace gluten you have to add things like xantham gum. I would rather not eat that kind of weird thing. If you don't need to avoid gluten for a real health reason, just eat good quality bread. Along the lines of the Food Rules that I aspire to, baking with real ingredients like butter, whole grain flours, real dairy yogurt I think is the way to go. Remembering to eat in moderation, and make them at home and you are all set.
We made a version of these in class, and also have them on our practical test this week. The school version calls for dried apricots, pistachios and candied ginger. I am not a fan of candied ginger and decided at home to make a version I would like better. I used cranberries rather than apricots, pecans instead of pistachios, and orange zest instead of candied ginger. I also used real butter instead of Earth Balance.
If you look at ingredients, the butter wins for me! Organic and pasture raised is the way to go. Local butter if you can find it. These scones are really easy. You cut butter into a mixture of dry ingredients, add some milk, and stir in the fruit and nuts. Pat into a round and cut into wedges. Simple. The ratios here give you a chunky, somewhat dense scone. You could easily substitute other dried fruits and nuts, and use whole wheat pastry flour instead of the spelt. I used the coconut palm sugar which has a lower glycemic index (i.e. less impact to your blood sugar) but you can use brown sugar. There is an option to add a glaze or icing. It adds extra sugar but it also adds extra flavor. Your choice, with or without. For the ones I didn't glaze I added a little raw sugar to the top before baking for a little sparkle and crunch. These taste like Christmas to me. Perfect for Christmas morning or for gift-giving to a teacher, a boss, a neighbor. Easy, delicious, and festive. It's a keeper!
Whole Grain Orange Cranberry Scones
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: bake bread breakfast snack cranberries Christmas Thanksgiving
Ingredients (8 scones)
- 2 cups whole spelt flour or white whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp cold butter or vegan butter
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 2 Tbsp orange zest (from two oranges)
- 2/3 cup milk (2% or almond milk) plus a little more for brushing
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- coarse raw sugar (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 - 3 Tbsp orange juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the chilled butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla extract to the milk, and then add this to the flour mixture. Mix well. Stir in the pecans and cranberries. Do not over mix.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Pat into a 1 inch thick circle. Cut like a pie into 8 wedges. Place wedges two inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little more milk. If not using the glaze sprinkle with the coarse raw sugar.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the scones are golden brown and no longer appear moist. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
If using glaze, put the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add 1 Tbsp of juice and mix well. Add more juice a Tbsp at a time to get the desired thickness. 2 Tbsp will yield a thicker icing and 3 Tbsp or more will give a thin glaze. Spoon over the cooled scones.