Whole Wheat Almond Scones
I may be the only person who doesn’t like the sugar-crusted, cake-like, sugar bombs that coffeehouses are regularly passing off as scones. They generally taste like overly sweet bricks. Hard, bland and more appropriate for breaking windows than eating for breakfast. Once I discovered that this is not the true incarnation of a scone, I was more willing to give them a try. A proper scone is light, moist yet crumbly and only mildly sweet. That’s my kind of scone.
These almond scones perfectly fit the bill. With only two tablespoons of sugar in a full dozen scones, these only have a hint of sweetness. Toasted almonds permeate the dough and when served fresh from the oven they are moist, flaky and a perfect accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee or tea. Feel free to slather them with butter or lemon curd. We won’t judge you.
The key to achieving the perfect scone texture is to keep the cold ingredients very cold. Before starting the process (scones are very quick to make), I will cut the butter up into small cubes and return the cubed butter to the fridge to let it get cold again. The heat from your hands actually warms the butter up while you are cutting. Also, I like to return my liquid ingredients to the fridge while stirring together the dry ingredients and working in the butter. That way they are ice cold when I’m ready to mix it all together.
To cut the butter into the dry ingredients, you can use a pastry cutter or as Dorie recommends, use your finger tips to work the butter into the flour. I prefer the pastry cutter because my little fingers don’t seem to work fast enough to incorporate the butter before warming it up too much with my hands. Try both methods. See what works for you. It isn’t rocket science. Just scones.
Whole Wheat Almond Scones
Yield: 12 scones
1 cup blanched almonds (whole, slivered or sliced), toasted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup cold whole milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sliced almonds (for decoration, optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Using a food processor, combine half the toasted almonds (1/2 cup) with the sugar until thoroughly ground together. Be careful not to overgrind the nuts and end up with almond butter. Finely chop the remaining 1/2 cup of toasted almonds and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg, cream, milk and almond extract together. Place in the refrigerator until just before mixing with the dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground almond/sugar mixture, baking power and salt.
- Drop in the cubed butter and using a pastry blender (or your fingers) quickly work the butter into the flour mixture. You will want to work the butter into the mixture until it is sandy with some larger pieces.
- Pour in the cold liquid ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or a fork until just combined. The dough will be sticky.
- Stir in the remaining chopped almonds.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes, in the bowl, until it comes together and can be placed on a floured surface.
- Once on a floured surface, divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a flat circle, roughly 5-6 inches in diameter. Cut each circle into 6 wedges.
- Place a few sliced almonds on each wedge, if you are using them. Place the wedges on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown on top. Be careful not to overbake or the scones will dry out. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm with butter or lemon curd.
* Of course you can substitute all-purpose flour for the whole wheat if that is all you have or just aren't feel whole-grainy that day. Not a problem.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours