Friday, January 8, 2010

Honey & Lemon Oat Scones . . .

Walking past the pristine and pricey merchandise, their aroma was evident well before they were actually in view. Scenting the air with the warmth of toasted nuts, melting chocolate, fresh berries, and citrus--they could only be scones. Casually displayed and generously portioned, Britt's cafeteria produced dozens of them day in and day out. Office workers and attorneys, parking attendants and bankers alike beat a weekday-morning path to procure them. Intent and determined, Britt's customers bore the expression of pilgrims on a crusade--they weren't fooling around. Once having obtained the object of affection, they'd scurry back out of the big glass doors, each one securely clutching a small paper bag, an expression of modest accomplishment on every face.

That's what I thought of this morning as I was trying to remember when I'd tasted my very first scone. I was in my twenties, and working for a publishing company in downtown Detroit. Britt's was a small restaurant of sorts, tucked oddly into the far corner of an upscale office supply store. It was a quick walk from my desk to the elevator, down eight floors, out the door of the historic Penobscot Building, then right around the corner.

Britt's scones were not necessarily traditional. Made from dough that was neither rolled nor cut, they were obviously prepared quickly, like drop biscuits, thus their irregular shape and often varying size. But, oh, were they good. Floury and soft within, crumbly and tender crisp on the outside. My favorite was the strawberry scone, plump with rosy chunks of fresh ripe berries throughout. If memory serves correctly, they also offered currant, chocolate chip, blueberry, and lemon poppy-seed. I must have tried them all.

No one was pleased when Britt's, after several years in that location, closed its doors for good. It was a shame in every way, but at least that unique little place left a firm and fond impression.

And so began my love affair with scones . . .

These particular scones don't fall into the fluffy and tender category. They're more along the lines of substantial and chewy. Definitely on the healthier end of the vast scone spectrum. (Recipe attribution info is included further down, under Recipe Full Disclosure!)

Honey & Lemon Oat Scones

(For a printable copy of this recipe, click here)

2 cups All Purpose flour (bleached or unbleached is fine)
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used quick)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, very cold, and cut into small chunks
2 tsp. fresh lemon zest

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup honey (I used wildflower honey)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
2 tsp. sanding, or granulated, sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Add in the lemon zest and stir it in with a fork.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter chunks well, until there are no large pieces left.

In a small bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, honey, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Pour the liquid mixture into the well, and mix together with a spoon just enough to evenly moisten the dry ingredients and form a soft dough.

With floured hands, gather the dough into a clump and dump it onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a circle roughly 9" in circumference.

Using a sharp knife or a pizza wheel, cut the pieces into 12 triangles, like you would a pie.

Place each piece about an inch apart on the lined cookie sheet. Melt the 1 Tbsp. of butter, and brush some of that on the top of each piece. Sprinkle a pinch of sanding sugar, or granulated sugar, on top of each buttered piece of dough.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just lightly browned on the top and bottom. They bake quickly, so check on them early.

Serve warm or cold, with honey, of course!

Recipe full disclosure!
I adapted this recipe from this link, at The Herb
It called for lemon verbena leaves, which I have never even seen let alone used, so I left those out. It also called for the use of more lemon zest and juice than I thought expedient. Yogurt was included but I had none on hand so I decided to substitute buttermilk. I added in the part about brushing melted butter and sprinkling sugar on the top of the scones before baking. I rewrote the directions, too.

P. S. If you liked this honey & lemon oat scone recipe, you might also like the recipes in these past posts:

Apple Oat Scones

Cream Scones with Sweet Dried Cherries

Strawberry Scones

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