Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Irish Foods Week: Basic Brown Scones Edition

No exploration of Irish foods would be complete without a bread of some sort. Irish bread is legendary and my love of soda bread in particular is complete and everlasting.

I'll never forget my first bite of brown soda bread. The year was 1977 and my family was traveling through Ireland for the first time. That trip marked the first plan ride for all four of us and the flight seemed endless. It was a bumpy trip. As I said in my post about soda bread last year, we were all fairly green around the gills upon landing and it was only the small meal of brown soda bread and good strong tea that saved us. I'm convinced Irish brown bread has magical, healing properties.

Since I've already posted two recipes for brown soda bread in the past, today I thought we'd try some scones. And, I'll be honest, these aren't the scones of my dreams. They look gorgeous and have a lovely, tender crumb, but the flavor is rather simple. Not bad, mind you, but they didn't knock my socks off either.

This recipe comes from the Irish Baking Book by Ruth Isabel Ross - the same book from which I adapted my Hearty Brown Bread recipe. I've mainly changed the method of preparation and technique here, providing more instruction than as does the book ... because I think its necessary. I decided to top the second batch with a bit of coarse sugar and this proved a wonderful improvement indeed.

Think of this recipe as a starting point, a place to jump off, a basic template. Add in some raisins, currants or nuts if you like, and perhaps a bit of sugar if you prefer a sweeter scone. The original recipe contains no sugar, but I will add an option for those who wish.

Basic Brown Scones:
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons of steel cut oats (pinhead oats, not rolled oats)
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, if desired (alternately, you could use 1 tablespoon of honey)
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz.) of cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk
  • some additional buttermilk for glazing
  • some rolled oats for topping
  • some coarse sanding sugar for topping
In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, steel cut oats, and sugar, if using. (If you choose to add honey, do not add at this point, that will come later.) Whisk well to combine. Add the cold butter and using your hands, or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms a coarse meal. (I like to use my hands.)

Add the buttermilk, and honey, if using, and stir to combine. The mixture will be dry. Use your hands to knead the dough while still in the bowl and knead until the mixture can be formed into a ball. Turn out onto the counter and knead well, until the dough becomes smooth, about 3 minutes or so.

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 1/2 hour. Working with one half of dough at a time, knead until smooth then roll out, using a rolling pin, into a 1/2 inch thick circle or square. Use a small biscuit cutter or drinking glass to cut out scones. Place cut scones on a cookie sheet and brush the top of each with a bit of buttermilk. Dust the wet scones with some rolled oats and some coarse sugar to coat the tops. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 425 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown and cooked throughout. Serve immediately with some butter and jam.

As written this recipe will yield 24 to 26 scones, depending on size.

They are excellent with the butter and jam. I suggest KerryGold butter and some lovely strawberry jam.

Do you have a killer scone recipe? If so, link it up in the comments. Hungry Diva wants to know!

Bon appetite!


Mo Diva said...

diva, this looks fab. I am dying to try to make my own soda bread this year since my Challah came out so good! I think i can do it! i think this recipe looks easy enough too for a first timer like me!

Molly said...

I'm loving your Irish foods week...I posted a photo of my Aunts Irish Soda bread this week, but that recipe is under lock and key!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Mo Diva - thanks! If you're looking for a more traditional Irish bread, try my link to the Hearty Brown Bread recipe, its super easy!

Molly - ooh, family secrets! Must go check it out. Thanks!

Sook said...

I'm not too familiar with Irish food so I'm glad that you posted this. Thank you!

Charmian @Christie's Corner said...

Ooooh, I have steel cut oats at hand (ready to go to my mom's for baking) and buttermilk. This sounds like a wonderful and flexible recipe that would make a nice side to the Guinness stew.

Barbara said...

Looks good to me!
I think the best scones I've ever had were in Scotland in a country home we were staying in. Melt in your mouth.
When I make them, I usually make cranberry scones, although you can use any dried fruit.

Daily Spud said...

Ah, soda bread - I could live on the stuff (that and spuds of course :D).

And you can find my brothers' formula for killer white scones here

Wilma said...

Auntie, these look scrumptious, but I'll pass them along to Brigitte, bread products are her wheelhouse. I'll stick to the meat, so guinnes stew for me, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Those scones look fantastic! Loving your Irish foods week!

Tangled Noodle said...

No need to convince me of the magical properties of Irish breads - whenever we stopped for a light repast during our Irish tour, tea and brown bread were all I wanted. I should have simply toted a loaf with me the entire time. I'm craving these scones, especially while they're still warm from the oven and the Kerrygold butter just melts into them . . . [drooling]

Lentil Breakdown said...

Nice blog, Diva! I bought buttermilk the other day and am a little late for my Irish soda bread experiment which will take place tomorrow. Am a fiend for scones, and these look delish!