Friday, February 5, 2010

Oatmeal maple scones

The tale of oatmeal/maple scones 
It all began with spilled oatmeal. Having cleverly stored an enormous cylinder of Quaker Oats on its side, I should not have been surprised when the lid burst free of its moorings and released a flood of oats onto my countertop.

Like any good mother, I flashed on the various contamination-related scenarios, assessing with a deep maternal calculus whether or not the oats would still be usable after having possibly intermingled with a few breadcrumbs and who knows what else on that countertop. On the pro side, I never work with raw meat or other dire animal products on that counter. On the con side, I've got at least one child who climbs up there frequently to acquire a drinking vessel.

Obviously, heat would be needed. As with many of my cooking adventures, necessity drove me to the index of a large cookbook, desperately seeking to build something around a single awkward ingredient I had available. So, I turned to my new America's Test Kitchen cookbook, a Christmas gift, and looked up oatmeal. Lo', the Test Kitchen came through for me: There, on page 488, it offered up a recipe for oatmeal scones that just happened to call for 1.5 cups of oatmeal, almost exactly the amount I'd just hand-swept from my countertop into a bowl.

The rest of the ingredients
In addition to the oats, the scones required 1/4 c. whole milk, ditto of heavy cream, an egg (large, as usual), 1.5 c. all-purpose flour, 1/3 c. sugar with a bit extra for sprinkling on top, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 10 tbsp unsalted butter. This last had to be cut into 1/4-inch cubes and then chilled. This cubing of butter was by far the most time-consuming part of the recipe.

The instructions
Oven set to 375 F, I dug in. First, I spread the oats on a baking pan to toast for about 8 minutes (I viewed this as a sort of decontamination step); after removing them, I fired up the oven temp to 450 F. Then, milk, cream, egg whisked together, and I added in 1/4 c. maple syrup to enhance the oats with some maply goodness (an option offered on p. 489 of the cookbook). A tablespoon of this milky mixture went on reserve for brushing on top of the scones. After I food processed the dry ingredients, I added in the cold butter cubes and processed again until it all looked like light cornmeal.

In a medium bowl, I combined the flour mixture with the toasted oats and added in the milk mixture. At this point, I could tell that I needed more flour, so I added in another quarter cup or so to give the dough a decent stiffness.

Shaping and baking scones
There are a couple of ways to shape scones. You can use a cakepan, pushing your dough into it to make a nice circle and then cutting out the triangles. Or, you can shape it into a circle yourself on some wax paper and then cut it into triangles as you would cut a pie.

Place each triangle on a cookie sheet prepped with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the reserved milk/egg/syrup mixture and then sprinkle to your tastes and desire with the reserved sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they look pretty much like golden brown scones. You can eat them after about 10 minutes of cooling, or you can have them over the next three days for breakfast, which was what I did. My three-year-old, the world's choosiest consumer, ate only the sugar-crispy, shiny tops and pronounced them acceptable.

Some scone tweaks
If I were to do it again, I think I'd add in more maple syrup into the milk mixture for an increased maple enhancement. And I also put in about a quarter cup of wheat germ because I add wheat germ to just about everything I bake.

The calorie/fat count on these remains a mystery. I can only imagine that with 1.25 sticks of butter, it's fairly robust. In my mind, that's an excellent reason to eat these flaky, maply little triangles for breakfast--that gives you the rest of the day to burn off that butter. Happy baking!


  1. I got the ATK book for my birthday last month (if you mean the 10th anniversary one)...and made a chicken recipe from it last night! Are you, too, waiting anxiously for the 10th Season CDs to come in June?

    I love ATK and Cook's Illustrated. LOVE.

  2. These look so good, Emily. And I always thought scones would be more complicated. This seems like something I can manage. Can't wait to try them!

  3. *sigh* And I imagine the house smelled SOOOOO good while they were baking, too! Yum.


  4. Thanks. Glad to be here. Got a dairy-free chocolate cake thing coming next.

    Yes, I'm loving that cookbook. And yes, the house did smell good, and they weren't as complicated as I thought they'd be.