My dearest favorite scones,
You are so fluffy and light, and I love your for it. I really do. You always put a smile on my face on a grey day, or a sunny one. You play well with my favorite fruits. My friends comment on how great you are, and ask me to share you with them. I still remember the giddy first days of loving you, when I brought you to my friend’s going away to London party. You fit in so well, and I just wanted to gobble you all up. I couldn’t keep my hands off of you.
But I have a confession. Over the past few years, my eyes have, on occasion, strayed. To scones with a little more substance. Scones that are a bit more hardy. Scones with a depth of flavor. Scones that are a bit less simple.
The moment I saw these certain buckwheat cornmeal scones and I was taken in. I must have had too many spoonfuls of the strawberry rhubarb jam that was simmering away on the stove top. I didn’t know what I was doing. Before I could come to my senses, my hands were sticky with dough. I had crossed the line.
I should regret my actions and beg for forgiveness. But, you see, these scones filled a need in me I didn’t even realize I had. I didn’t know how riveted I would be by their subtle nuttiness. How tantalized I’d be by the grain. I simply can’t stop nibbling on them. And they make me happy. Right now, they are just what I need.
So, dear scones, I just need some space. I jumped in far too early with you, declaring myself yours before I really even knew who I was as a baker. I need to experiment. To try new grains and new flavors. Perhaps, once I know myself a bit better, I will return to you. Until then, I wish you the best. I will always think of you fondly.
Buckwheat Polenta Scones
This recipe comes from Alice Medrich’s wonderful cookbook, Pure Dessert. As it turns out, I was out of cornmeal but had some coarsely ground polenta on hand. The polenta holds up quite well and gives a nice little crunch to the scones. I had to add a bit more all purpose flour to get a workable dough though, perhaps because of the difference in the texture of the polenta. If you use cornmeal, start by adding only 6 oz of flour.
1/2 cup milk, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1.5 oz buckwheat flour
1.5 oz course polenta
1/3 cup sugar
1 scant tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 tablespoon raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Whisk the egg, milk and cream together and set aside.
Combine the flours, polenta, sugar, baking powder and salt, and add the butter, coarsely chopped. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand, with some slightly larger clumps than others. Slowly add the milk mixture, and fold in until the dry mixture is just wet (you may not use all of the milk mixture). The dough should be rough and sticky, but hold together in a ball when lightly kneaded. If it is to wet, add a bit more all purpose flour.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, turn once, and press to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into equal pieces (I used a 3.5 inch cutter… you can recut any scraps, but don’t work them much before recutting). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Brush the tops of each scone with a bit of milk, and sprinkle with a bit of raw sugar if desired. Bake for only 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are a lovely golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, and serve immediately, ideally with some lovely strawberry rhubarb preserves.