Scones. I love them. Something about them feels luxurious, as if having them around also means you've got plenty of time for a lazy breakfast, or an afternoon visit with a friend, or even a festive brunch event, held outside and attended by ladies wearing hats.
It might not come as much of a surprise, then, to hear that I haven't been making them very often. As pleased as I am with the course of my life at the moment, I must admit that it is not exactly overflowing with the luxury of lots of spare time right now. So I was especially pleased when this month's wonderful host, Lauren of Celiac Teen, chose scones for our third round of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally. Because it reminded me that, all my illogical associations aside, scones really are incredibly quick and easy to make.
When it comes to scones, I'm all for simplicity. I like the flavors to be relatively straightforward, no glazes or accessories necessary (although I certainly wouldn't turn them down if offered!). I like a scone that can stand on its own. And I like a method that isn't tricky to master, doesn't require any fancy kitchen tools, and can be made equally well two months in advance or in spur-of-the-moment haste. And, because I'm me, I also require my scones to not only have incredible flavor and texture, but also to be completely indistinguishable from their gluten-full counterparts. (Easier to accomplish than you might think!)
Luckily for me, I'm a cream scone girl. A year ago, I told you why I think cream scones are, hands down, the best scones out there. But that was before I started down the ratio path - before I realized that they could get even easier.
When you're talking about baking with ratios, the major players are flour(s), liquid, fat, and eggs. For baked goods that contain all four, even a "clean" ratio can be a little hard to remember, hard to keep straight. But as you eliminate ingredients, so do you reduce the obstacles to remembering the formula. When you reach cream scones, with only flour and heavy cream (which represents the liquid and the fat - hooray for efficiency!) to worry about, "easy" begins to sound like an understatement. Two parts flour to two-and-a-quarter parts cream, by weight? Yes! I can remember that!
And since you're working with a ratio, one that is quite beautiful in it's simplicity, you can scale the recipe up or down with confidence, knowing that you'll get great results every time. For the record, I have made scones using this ratio (although I didn't always think of it in ratio terms) to yield as few as 8 scones, all the way up to a batch that yielded 216 scones, with identical outcomes every time. (The latter yield being in a commercial setting, obviously.) It really does work. This is the joy of ratios: freedom and movement and confidence.
These scones are also a great example of how easily you can customize a recipe that is based on a ratio. Maybe you want to use a different blend of flours. Go ahead, just measure by weight and stick to two 'parts' of whatever you choose. A 'part' can be any amount, really. Maybe you want to bake a really small batch - make your 'part' equal 100 grams, giving you a total of 200 grams of flour. Or you need a really large batch, because you're preparing for a morning-after-the-wedding breakfast (there I go with my illusions of luxury again), so you scale the recipe up to make one 'part' equal 840 grams, meaning a total of 1680 grams of flour. Either way, you're good. Adjust the heavy cream (or the non-dairy substitute of your choice) proportionately, and the scones will be perfect and delicious.
You can also switch out the crystallized ginger in my recipe for any other flavor - dried fruit, candied orange peel, toasted nuts, chocolate chips - whatever you want in a scone. Add as little or as much as you want. Or decide that savory scones are really more your style, leave out the sugar completely, and mix in pieces of prosciutto and grated parmesan. Since sugar has nothing to do with the success of the recipe, omitting it doesn't mean worrying that you've got a flop on your hands. It means you've just doubled the already practically infinite variations available for this recipe! See what I mean about freedom?
I do need to mention one thing, however: the xanthan gum is crucial to these scones. Unlike the rhubarb coffee cake in my previous post, you can't just leave out the xanthan gum, continue on your merry way, and hope that what you pull out of the oven will be edible. Not if by 'edible,' at least, you have in mind something you can pick up in one piece, and chew without tiring out your jaw and drying out your mouth. Trust me on this one - me and my disappointed brunch guests who watched as I deposited a dozen pitiful specimens into the trash Sunday morning.
Replacing the xanthan gum, though, with a flax or chia seed slurry, might work. I didn't have the time to try. I'd be interested in hearing about anyone's experience doing that. Also, adding an egg would provide some binding power as well, although in my opinion you would no longer be making cream scones. However, there is certainly more than one way to make a scone! Which leads me to . . .
Everyone Else. This is the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, after all, and there are a lot of other delicious scone recipes being posted today. Really incredible-sounding scones, in fact. Lavender Earl Grey Lemon Scones? Red Velvet Scones? Jalapeño Cheese Scones? Yes, please, all of them! Lauren has the full round-up on her blog, but I'm giving you the list of participants here for your convenience. Be sure to make the rounds, and then make scones! I know it's the middle of the week, but I'm telling you: scones can be quick, easy, middle-of-the-week food. Now that's a luxury.
For Twitter fans, you can follow (and join!) the Ratio Rally discussion using the hashtag #gfreerally.
Gluten-Free Ratio Rally May Participants:
Amie of The Healthy Apple
Britt of GF in the City
Brooke of B & the Boy
Caleigh of Gluten-Free[k]
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten-Free
Caroline of The G-Spot
Charissa of Zest Bakery
Claire of Gluten Freedom
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure
Gretchen of Kumquat
Irvin of Eat the Love
Jeanette of Jeanette's Healthy Living
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine
Karen of Cooking Gluten-Free
Kate of Katealice Cookbook
Lauren of Celiac Teen
Lisa of Gluten-Free Canteen
Lisa of With Style and Grace
Marla of Family Fresh Cooking
Meaghan of Wicked Good Vegan
Melanie of Mindful Food
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty
Morri of Meals with Morri
Mrs. R of Honey from Flinty Rocks (and another recipe!)
Peter and Kelli of No Gluten No Problem
Sea of Book of Yum
Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
Silvana of Silvana's Kitchen
TR of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Wendy of La Phemme Phoodie
Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen
Crystallized Ginger Cream Scones
yields 12 scones
This recipe is based on a 2:2.25 ratio of flour to liquid.
350 gr Tara's gluten-free pastry flour
160 gr Tara's gluten-free all-purpose flour
130 gr granulated sugar
130 gr crystallized ginger, chopped into small pieces
50 gr teff flour
6 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fine sea salt
630 gr heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine all but the heavy cream in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the heavy cream and mix until fully combined (the dough will be quite sticky - resist the urge to add more flour).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and, with lightly floured hands, pat it into a circle, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 12 wedges. (At this point, the scones may be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to two months. Frozen scones can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before baking, or, if you don't mind a slightly longer baking time, they can go straight from the freezer to oven.)
Transfer scones to baking sheet, allowing room between them for rising, and brush the tops with heavy cream. Bake for 35-40 minutes (longer for frozen scones), or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Scones keep, wrapped airtight at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Posted by Tara Barker at 8:00 AM