Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Brunch: Maple Oatmeal Scones

For the brunch I hosted a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try something new. You see, when I get to play hostess I like to make one or two things that are predictable - like the quiche or a pretty fruit platter like above - but I also like to work in something new to the mix. After reviewing all my starred recipe items in Reader and leafing through my recipe books, I decided to make maple oatmeal scones.
You see, lately, I have been a little obsessed with oatmeal. Irish steel-cut oatmeal to be precise. I think it is amazing stuff. I eat Irish steel-cut oatmeal nearly every morning. And very recently I have been making it in the crock-pot over night and so I don't have to rush in the morning or default to buying it on my way in to work. But somehow oatmeal for breakfast isn't quite enough, so I've been playing with adding it to cookies and toying with the idea of where else I can toss them into my baking. A word about baking with steel-cut oats. I have used McCann's steel-cut in cookies, but I don't use very much because I don't want the cookies to turn into lead. But this isn't about cookies. This is about scones. And for these scones, I used McCann's quick-cooking Irish oatmeal which is closer to the look and texture of regular Quaker's rolled oats. Use whatever you have on hand but just be sure they are quick-cooking.

So, the morning of the brunch I thought I had everything well under control. The brunch was scheduled to start at 11 am, my groceries were delivered around 830 am and by 930 or so my quiche was in the oven so I jumped in the shower. Well, somehow whatever else it was I was doing kept me engaged until about 1020 when I realized I needed to start making these scones! But then, as I was pulling ingredients out of the cupboard, disaster struck:
My bottle of expensive fancy vanilla leapt off the shelf and crashed to the floor. I stared at it for a few minutes trying to decide how on earth to proceed with cleaning it up. Pungent vanilla took over my kitchen and teeny, tiny bits of glass were everywhere along with sticky, staining vanilla! Of COURSE the bottle was practically new!

Anyway, after I managed to clean it up, I decided - for who knows what reason - that 20 minutes was plenty of time to make a new recipe . . . and still take photos along the way. So with that excessively long intro, here it is:

First step, heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next up, in a medium bowl, combine the 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup whole-wheat flour, 1 cup quick-cooking oats, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Toss them all together until combined.
Next step, you need a pound of butter. That is 4 sticks. Yes, two whole cups of butter. I always use unsalted real butter when baking because Martha told me and I have no better reason other than to say you may want to adjust your salt if you use salted butter. Cut the butter into little cubes. You want to make sure the butter is cold when you do this or it will melt instantly in your hands. Toss the butter into the flour-oat mixture.
Using a hand mixer (or if you have a stand mixer that probably works even better), blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed until the butter is in very small pieces.
Next up you need some buttermilk. For whatever reason I deleted buttermilk from my grocery list so I had to resort to my old trick of milk and vinegar as a substitute. You only need 1/2 cup but I was clearly frazzled and measured out 1 cup (use 1 TB of vinegar for each cup of milk).
In a smaller mixing bowl, lightly beat 4 extra-large eggs. Then add the buttermilk - but only 1/2 cup!
then add 1/2 pure maple syrup. Please, please, PLEASE do not try and substitute Mrs Butterworths or some other fake imposter maple syrup. Go for the good stuff from Vermont. Mix that all together.
Then add it to the flour-and-butter-and-oats mix. The recipe says to do so quickly, so I'll throw that in. I'm guessing they want you to not look at the semi-gross color of the egg-maple-syrup mix for too long. Mix this together until just blended. The dough will be pretty tacky.
Therefore, it is essential that you have a nice clean and heavily floured surface at the ready with plenty of extra flour near-by.
Dump the dough (or a portion of the dough) onto your floured surface and make sure you flour your hands and rolling pin as well.
Then roll it all out to about 3/4 to an inch thickness. Don't worry about the lumps of butter in the dough, they are supposed to be there.
Cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or a round cup.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil. I spaced the first batch out pretty wide since I wasn't sure how much these would grow. I learned they don't grow much at all so you can squeeze in a dozen on a tray.
In a small bowl beat one more egg with 1 tablespoon of milk for an egg wash. Brush the tops of the unbaked scones with the egg wash and then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.
In case you were wondering, it was pretty much 11 am by this time and I was just praying the guests were fashionably late enough to give me a chance to get rid of the flour that was coating everything!

Luckily, they were just late enough that I managed to clean everything up and bake two batches. The rest of the dough refridgerated well until I baked them the following Saturday.

Before they come out of the oven though, you might want to make the glaze which is comprised of 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Well, I didn't follow those proportions at all because it seemed like far too much for my purposes. Plus, I no longer had vanilla. So I just mixed powdered sugar and maple syrup until I had the right consistency. I dribbled the glaze onto the scones while they were still on the wire racks and immediately topped them with a few more oats. Delicious!

maple-oatmeal scones
from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes
Allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes or so before adding the glaze.


Tiffany said...

I want one. Now.

P.S. I bet your apartment smells AMAZING! And look at all that money you saved on expensive candles!

michele said...

i agree with tiffany about your apartment probably smelling amazing. at least it wasn't the vinegar that spilled all over, but sorry about your new bottle of vanilla.

Dani said...

These look SO DELICIOUS! *droll*

Vanessa The Scientist said...

I love the recipe posts! I've refered to TWO of your recipes so far.

Alisa said...

Oh Yum! Right now that sounds delish. I will have to make this.

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