It’s 2022, and if you don’t know what a scone is by this point then you’ve basically failed at internetting. But, I’ll explain it using my best blogger writing. These ginger almond scones are just the right symphony of flavors to awaken your sleepy taste buds. A hint of warmth from the ginger paired with that distinctive aroma and flavor of almond. These scones are light and fluffy with a soft inside but the perfect amount of crispness on the outside. How’d I do? Blogger enough? I even used the word symphony for you!
Scones are basically a thicker and better version of pancakes. In terms of ingredients they are identical just the ratio is a little different. The goal of scones and pancakes is to use common baking ingredients before they go bad. At least that’s where these things historically came from. Quick to throw together, unlike a cake or pastry, but a little sweet mixed with a lot of fat and then shaped into something rough and baked. Even though it seems like you can just mix a bunch of shit together, there are easy techniques to make them well. I see far too many bloggers cutting corners and ingredients and it makes me cranky. Cranky enough to write a blog post, which if you know me, you know I really don’t like writing blog posts.
We just need to make a general rule to stop substituting ingredients when we don’t have to. If you’re diabetic then yes sugar substitutes make a big difference. Everyone else? Just use sugar. It makes better baked goods and if you’re going through all the trouble of baking why are you intentionally making something that is just a sad knockoff of a great thing. When sugar is heated it caramelizes and also creates crystalline structures that taste good and also trap in moisture. That’s why when you omit or reduce the sugar amount in a recipe it is crumbly and dry and just tastes boring.
More great recipes on CrowMoonKitchen!
- Baked Apple Donuts
- Shepherd’s Pie Soup
- Gobi Manchurian
- Creamy Curry Potato Soup
- Ginger Almond Scones
Sugar substitutes like monk fruit and stevia don’t bake like sugar. They don’t melt or even chemically change at oven temperatures. Plus, they are hyper-sweet which makes baked goods taste just kinda off. Did you know that stevia is over 200 times sweeter tasting than sugar! It’s no wonder companies keep creating new sugar substitutes and putting them into everything. Our taste buds don’t even register natural sweetness anymore and even the sweetness of stevia has become boring. Sucralose, which is common these days, is 600 times sweeter than sugar, but even that isn’t enough! Advantame is the newest high-intensity sweetener hitting the shelves. It is…20,000 times sweeter than sugar. Basically, if you eat a lot of processed foods and packaged baked goods your taste buds are royally effed. Learning to enjoy the natural sweet of granulated sugar, maple syrup, and fruit is the best thing you can do to enjoy food made from scratch. It also, contrary to diet influencers, helps you to maintain and lose weight because you’re eating food made using ingredients our taste buds recognize and can properly enjoy. When you’re used to baked goods being hundreds and thousands of times sweeter than sugar just think what that is doing to your brain and how to process food enjoyment.
The other part of my baking rant here is fat. AKA butter and oil. If you’re making a dessert then make a dessert. Fat does a few things in baking. In pies and cookies and biscuits/scones the butter basically fries the dough from the inside creating flakey layers. Fat also helps keep moisture in baked goods so that they aren’t dry. Fat inhibits gluten formation because it weakens the bond between the wheat proteins glutenin and gliadin. When you reduce or cut the fat from a recipe the result is tough and bread-like. And, fat assists the Maillard reaction, which is the browning result of heating. A dough with little or no, or poorly incorporated fat, will be pale and sad looking.
We need to stop messing with baking recipes and just enjoy good, well-made food. I’d much rather have a small slice of Herbal Essence shampooing (you know that commercial where she’s enjoying washing her hair just a little bit too much) cake than a large slice of something that is baked sadness and regret. Enjoy real food. Bake the recipes as intended. Stop trying to lighten everything up or make it skinny or healthy. It’s dessert. A treat. So, let it be delicious. Learn to bake with skill, and stop substituting things that just neuter flavor and texture. End of rant. Now let’s actually talk about baking and how to make scones.
Scones are relatively simple to make and it is a very forgiving recipe to explore baking if you’re new to baking from scratch. It’s made with flour, butter, sugar, and flavoring. Like I said earlier, it’s essentially a pancake or cake. Scone dough is between pancake and bread in terms of consistency. It holds a shape but it’s wet and a bit sticky. But, even though it’s simple, there are still certain techniques that make them better.
Use butter and not oil. Oil disperses throughout the dough which makes the baked good soft but not flakey. Butter goes into the oven solid and as it melts and heats up it fries the dough surrounding it. That’s how layers are formed. I know a lot of people really want to cut back on the butter too. Don’t. The amount is intentional to give you the best end result. Sad food makes sad people.
The butter should be cold and cut into thin pieces rather than shredded or pulverized in a food processor. If the butter chunks are too small then they are essentially no different than liquid oil. The butter pieces should be more like gravel than sand. I see a lot of bloggers shred frozen butter into scones and that just needs to stop. It’s messy, requires a grater, and it’s an extra step that isn’t necessary. Use a knife and cut thin pieces of butter and then use a pastry cutter or a wooden spoon to chop the butter up into small pieces. Our ancestors made bomb food and they didn’t have all these gadgets and tools.
Don’t touch your dough too much. It’s the same advice my mom gave me when I became a teenager, but I didn’t listen then. But, when it comes to baking I heed that advice. The more your hot hands touch the dough the more the butter melts. Also, when you work the dough too much you rub the glutenin and gliadin proteins together and you’re left with too much gluten. I really should have listened to my mom more back then.
Freeze the shaped dough before baking. This one might be new to many of you, and it makes a big difference. When you combine water and flour gluten starts to form. It’s the inevitable reaction of those two proteins combining. Don’t get me wrong though. You need gluten so that it’ll rise, but you don’t want too much. One way to loosen up the gluten is to let the dough rest before baking. Freezing the dough for thirty minutes or so let’s the gluten relax, the top of the dough to lose some moisture (helps get the crisp top), and the butter to chill again.
Brush the tops of your scones with milk before baking. This browns the tops more giving them that golden color and it helps hold any toppings in place. I like using large grain turbinado sugar because it won’t just melt into the dough.
Do those things and your scones will go from okay to great!
Here’s one of my favorite recipes I’ve created. So easy to make and it’s made using single ingredient items! Make it and let me know your thoughts.
Ginger Almond Scones
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or GF 1:1 baking blend)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons cold butter (I use Earth Balance vegan butter)
- 1-2 cups nuts and/or dried fruit (I used equal parts golden raisins and sliced almonds)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, corn starch, baking powder, salt.
- In a mixing cup combine the apple sauce, milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and grated ginger. If using ground ginger whisk that into the dry ingredients. I highly prefer the grated ginger though because it has a better flavor. Set the wet mix aside.
- Cut the butter into thin pieces, less than a 1/4" thick, and toss in the dry mix. Use a wooden spoon or stiff spatula to cut the butter into the dry mix so that it looks like pieces of gravel. You can use a fork or a pastry cutter, but I find the spoon works best for this. Stir in the dried nuts and/or dried fruit.
- Pour the wet mix into the dry. Mix to combine so that no dry flour remains. Make sure to get the flour at the bottom of the bowl. The dough should be stiff but a little tacky still.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a mound. Divide the dough in half. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a circle that is roughly 5" around and about 3/4" thick. Place the dough round onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Cut the dough into 6 wedges. Repeat with the other portion of dough.
- Place the baking sheet with the shaped dough into the freezer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. This steps chills the butter again for better layering and lets the gluten relax so that the scones are more tender. You can also start the oven preheating at the start of this step.
- Brush the top of the shaped scones with a little butter and sprinkle some large grain sugar on top. I prefer raw sugar or turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes. The scones should be slightly browned on top. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Enjoy once cooled or freeze for longer storage. Good in a Ziploc bag or covered dish on the counter for up to 5 days.
This vegan yellow cake is probably the best cake you’ll ever make. The crumb is light but full of flavor. When you get finished eating a slice you’ll know you had cake and feel satisfied!
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