Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal Scones

The only scone that I've ever had has been a scone from the cafeteria at my work. I'll  freely admit that that is not the best concept of a scone to base an opinion on. So what exactly is a scone then? According to Wikipedia:
The scone is a small British quick bread (or cake if recipe includes sugar) of Scottish origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdom, the United States,Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, but are also eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea.
Given that the scone recipe is found within the Quickbreads chapter of Baking Illustrated, that certainly makes sense. The next question I had about scones was their shape. Every scone I've ever seen has been wedge-shaped, but Eric pointed out that the scones he's had in the UK in the past have been round. Wikipedia says:

The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a medium size plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in Scots), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones. In Scotland, the words are often used interchangeably.[3]
I guess that settles that! I made scones, and not a "bannock."

Mmm, delicious scone!
In order to achieve a rich, full oat-y flavor for the scones, the oats were toasted until they were light brown and fragrant. The kitchen smelled wonderful while these were toasting, but you all know I have a serious oat addiction.
*drool* oats!
While the oats were toasting, I took the time to whisk together the wet ingredients until they were light and frothy.
I was actually a little surprised by the use of the food processor to combine the butter into the dry ingredients, but I am not going to complain. I detest using a pastry cutter (or knives!) to cut butter into dry ingredients. It's also important for this recipe to ensure that your butter is cold, not room temperature when you combine the ingredients. The cold butter helps achieve a flakier, more tender texture when it's baked.  This is similar to homemade pie crust, which I will be tackling (and presumably mastering) later in this year.  There are about a billion pie recipes!

Cold, cubed butter ready for processing.
The mixture should resemble a coarse meal once
the butter has been fully incorporated into the
dry ingredients.
Once the butter-flour mixture is combined, it needs to be transferred to another bowl to combine the wet ingredients. Before the wet ingredients get added, any extra mix-ins get added. In this case, I've added some golden raisins and some cinnamon. Note that I used my medium Pyrex mixing bowl but I should have used the large one.  It's very difficult to correctly incorporate the wet ingredients in too small a bowl.  Oops.

Bowl is too small!
Mix-ins & oats
Once the mix-ins and oats are thoroughly combined with the flour-butter mixture, the wet ingredients are folded in. The wet ingredients are supposed to be folded in just until they form a cohesive mass and then mixed by hand.  I opted to continue mixing with the spatula because my hands tend to be very warm and I didn't want to melt the little butter clumps before baking.  Once the dough is mixed, it's turned out onto the counter and shaped into a round mass, then cut into wedges using a pizza cutter or dough knife.

If you don't use parchment paper or a baking mat,
spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray.
I tossed this recipe together in a very short amount of time before my parents arrived on Saturday to celebrate my birthday with me. The scones were moist and flavorful, the oat flavor wasn't overwhelming but was definitely present.  However, at almost 400 calories a scone, I think I'd like to tinker with the recipe a bit to attempt to achieve a lower calorie scone with equal flavor and moistness. Perhaps I'll document the process with a future blog post. However for now I'll keep to the many, many more Baking Illustrated recipes I have to tackle this year.