The recipe for these scones comes from Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce’s cookbook dedicated to using the more-obscure whole grain flours to appreciate the vast flavor spectrum whole grains offer. Barley flour is the unusual grain found in these scones. In fact, barley flour proved to be more difficult to find than I imagined: right before my friend Michelle came over to make these scones with me, I ran two blocks down the street to a small health foods store, Real Foods, to buy barley flour. Real Foods carried teff flour, brown rice flour and gluten-free flour but no barley flour. Instead of making a trip to Whole Foods, which probably did carry barley flour, I decided we’d try making the scones with white whole wheat flour instead of barley flour.
As we cut the butter into the flour and delicately molded the dough into round disks (and brushed more butter on top), we realized that these weren’t going to be your typical fluffy British scones; these were on par with the American shortcake-like scone, more fitting for dessert than breakfast or afternoon tea. Nonetheless, very delicious.
For the jam filling, we used the Europe version of Crofter’s Superfruit Spread, a blend of black currants, pomegranates, Morello cherries and red grapes—a lavish filling fitting for our decadent scones.
And lastly, I bid you farewell for two weeks because this evening I am boarding a plane bound for Costa Rica. We’re meeting our friends Katy and Josh and will soak up as much of Costa Rica as we can. We plan on rafting the Pacuare River, exploring the jungle and beaches of Manuel Antonio, relaxing in the hot springs of the Arenal Volcano and eating lots of tropical fruit (and taking a break from our computers). Adios, amigos! See you in two weeks.
Recipe from Good to the Grain (Strawberry Barley Scones, p 67)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour [we used white whole wheat flour]
1cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
½ cup buttermilk 1 egg
½ cup jam or marmalade
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Make the Scones
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Rub a baking sheet lightly with butter. Sift the dry ingredients (barley flour through kosher salt) into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
- Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture. Use your hands to rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is in sizes ranging from rice grains to flattened peas. The more quickly you do this, the more butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until thoroughly combined. Scrape the buttermilk and egg into the dry mixture, and mix until barely combined.
- Use a pastry scraper or a spatula to transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. The dough may be too sticky to handle; if it is, dust it with flour and fold it together a few times. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Flour your hands and pat each piece of dough into a disk about ¾ inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.
- Cover one disk with the jam or marmalade. Top the spread with the other disk and press down gently so that the dough settles into the jam. Brush the dough lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Use a sharp knife to slice the circle into 8 triangular wedges, like a pie. Carefully place the wedges on the baking sheet, leaving a few inches between them.
- Bake the scones for 22 to 26 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The scones are ready when their tops are golden brown and some of the jam or marmalade has bubbled over onto the pan. To keep the scones from sticking to the pan, slide a thin spatula underneath them while they’re still warm and move them to a baking rack. The scones are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day.