Scones are all over the map taste- and texture-wise. Sickly sweet with sugary icing, heavy with whole grains, cake-y, bread-y, crumbly, plain-jane, or studded with add-ins. I haven’t made scones very many times in my life because I always felt that scone’s close cousin, the muffin, was a little more reliable in taste and texture and doesn’t require all that rolling and cutting, an act which has never been my forte.
For some reason that I’m unable to pinpoint (possibly Pinterest), I got the idea in my head that I really wanted to give scones another go this weekend. Shortly after, I stumbled across Megan’s recipe for whole wheat maple walnut scones just published on Friday. I’ve found Megan’s recipes (both on her blog and in her new book, Whole Grain Mornings) to be reliably wholesome without going so overboard that they’re too “healthy” to enjoy.
I made some substitutions and additions to Megan’s recipe. I also rejiggered it a bit so that I could bake the scones in my barbecue. Megan’s recipe gives full instructions for shaping and cutting, but I happen to have a divided cornbread skillet that works perfectly for making scones without the fuss of handling the dough. I got my cornbread skillet (with eight wedge spaces) at the Coburg Antique Fair two years ago, but I see vintage ones pretty regularly at thrift stores and such. If you want to shell out $20 or so, they’re a pretty handy implement to have. Especially if you’re big on making scones. I’ve been rubbing mine with a little beeswax after every use, and now it’s seasoned to perfection. The scones came right out without sticking at all.
Scones baked in a cornbread skillet are a little crustier on the outside than those baked on a sheet pan because of the contact with the hot metal. I like ‘em that way.
Whole Wheat Chocolate-Hazelnut Scones
These scones are hearty, and their healthfulness is apparent. They definitely fall on the less-sweet end of the scone spectrum, but the addition of chopped dark chocolate adds enough sweetness and decadence to keep them from tasting TOO healthy.
Back when I whipped up some homemade hazelnut butter, I also ground a couple quarts of hazelnut meal that I’ve been subbing into a variety of recipes that call for almond meal ever since. I used David Lebovitz‘s method for whizzing almond meal in a food processor with a little sugar to keep it from overheating and releasing too much oil. The final product has about 2 tablespoons of sugar blended into each cup of hazelnut meal. It would be fine to use store-bought nut meal in this recipe, but you’ll need to stir in an extra two tablespoons of sugar into the flour blend.
If you’re like me and never have buttermilk on hand, a little plain yogurt mixed with milk is a decent substitute.
I give some guidelines for baking in a gas barbecue, but there are so many different grilling apparatus out there that you’re going to have to evaluate your own system and be observant and flexible during baking. This method works for me using my equipment, but I can’t make any guarantees about how it will turn out with your tools and equipment.
yeild: about 13 small, cornbread-slice scones1 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup hazelnut meal or other nut meal mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar–see note above 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon a few fresh grates of nutmeg 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks 1 1/3 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts or other nuts 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate or whole chocolate chips 1 cup buttermilk or 1/3 cup plain yogurt mixed with 2/3 cup milk 1/3 cup maple syrup ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the flours, nut meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Quickly cut in the chunks of cold butter with a pastry blender or your hands. Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate.
In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk/yogurt mixture, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just mixed. Set aside and let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the barbecue on medium-high with three or four firebricks set on the grill. Preheat a cast iron cornbread skillet in the barbecue.
If your cornbread skillet isn’t well seasoned, brush it with a little oil or rub it with beeswax when it warms up.
Fill each wedge space with dough and lightly press the dough into the corners. Reserve remaining dough for a second batch.
Place the skillet in the barbecue over the fire bricks. Close the lid tightly. Check after baking 18 minutes and rotate the pan if some areas are browning more quickly than others. Bake another 7-12 minutes until the top surfaces are golden brown. Remove the skillet from the barbecue (with appropriate heat-proof gear!). Carefully remove the scones and allow to cool on a rack.
Bake off the remaining dough.
Some other things I’ve been cooking/baking this weekend:
Yossy‘s “Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies” because they’re my sister in law’s favorite, and she just had a baby last night (Side note: My sister in law, an incredibly healthy person in general, was in labor for more than three long, excruciating days when my niece was born two years ago. This time, she labored less than four hours and ended up calling an ambulance to take her to the hospital because they weren’t sure she would make it in time. She did, and now I have a healthy new nephew whom I won’t be able to visit until I get over this stupid cold.)
I think this afternoon, I might try out Natalie Levin’s Tahini and Almond Cookies (shared on David Lebovitz’s blog), but I’ll sub in hazelnut butter and hazelnut meal instead of the tahini and almond meal.