I’m sort of desperately clinging to the idea of fall weather — the mornings here have been a tiny bit cooler the past few weeks (OK, a lot cooler; we’re talking low/mid-70s) though as the day wears on the temperature creeps back into the 90s — since it’s November in but a few short days and I’m still wearing shorts. Ah, desert life! I hear in the winter there are days when, gasp!, you might even feel compelled to put on a sweater. It’s hard to imagine. In the meantime I am baking lots of seasonally appropriate vegetable galettes and tarts, roasting root vegetables, and enjoying tea-with-scones in the afternoons because no matter what I love fall.
Does the world need another scone recipe? Arguably not, but here I am to contribute one anyway. It’s probably more interesting than droning on about the weather — the weather! — ad naseum. Last year around this time I was making pumpkin waffles and ruminating in a similar vein, Casa’s endless summer experience the littlest bit more pleasant than the dusty reality we’re living now, although I will admit that the desert has a kind of beauty that does, after all, grow on one.
These scones are a riff on several versions I keep in my scone file, and I’ve included several options for flours, gluten-free and whole grain (gluten) apiece. They’re buttery enough but not so much so that you’d hesitate to split one, warm from the oven, and spread each half with even more butter. Jam, too, if you’d like. They’re also light and flecked with chopped almonds and dried cherries plus a hint of warming spices to keep things interesting.
Scones are perhaps an unnecessary indulgence and yet I prefer them with my afternoon tea much more than a muffin (muffins seem meant for mornings). And they make me think of brilliant fall leaves and winter rainstorms and the wind that used to howl and rattle around the windows of my San Francisco apartment. So — not so unnecessary and indulgence after all, then. I use an egg here, which could keep me teetering on the edge of sacrilege but, I don’t know, I like the slight cakiness it lends to the finished product. If you’re feeling especially decadent swap out the whole milk for cream.
I’ll be the one shoveling scones into my mouth in between swigs of Earl Grey and willing the thermometer to tick down just a few … more … degrees. You’ll be the one winding a scarf around your neck and anticipating a white Christmas. So, you know, same same.
Of course you can switch around the nuts and the dried fruit incorporated here, but this is my current favorite scone iteration and thus I recommend making exactly as written below.
Makes 1 dozen scones.
Gluten-free: 1 cup oat flour + 1/2 cup sweet white rice flour + 1/4 cup almond meal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour + 3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
1 cup dried chopped cherries
1/2 cup chopped sliced almonds
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk plus more if needed
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, dried ginger and cardamom, cherries, and almonds. Cut in the butter and, using your hands or a fork, blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, and egg. Quickly mix in the wet ingredients and gather the dough together. If it seems very dry add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough until it is about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough and with a biscuit cutter or a knife, cut out the scones into rounds (alternatively, shape the scones with your hands). Place rounds on the baking sheet about 1-inch apart.
Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until scones are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm with butter and jam.