Growing up in the Midwest, the weather was far from what I’ve come to expect in California — weeks of snow, sleet, hail and rain. Early on I began to pass the time indoors indulging in one of my first loves; baking. With one of those little blue boxes of Jiffy cake mix, I would have a sugary production line moving through my Easy Bake oven that would’ve had even a Keebler elf envious. Decades later, there’s something completely relaxing about a quiet morning of baking rewarded with a fresh-from-the-oven treat and a warm cup of tea. Nothing to do but read a book and watch the clouds move through. So today we have rain and we make scones!
If you aren’t familiar, the scone is a traditional English breakfast or tea time treat that resembles a sweet biscuit. While there is some sugar to the mix, most of the sweetness comes from your choice of mix-ins. I prefer something a little less sweet and often opt for a dried fruit variety, while my daughter is a never-fail chocolate chipper. In addition to just about any dried fruit or chocolate, scones are also welcome hosts for a variety of chopped nuts and spices.
In general, scones are a pretty straightforward baking project, especially if you’ve ever made biscuits. If you’re still honing your baking skills, there are a few tips that might help you avoid a stone like scone. First, when mixing in the butter I like the larger bits of butter to be about pea-sized. This will ensure a nice flakey texture. From there you’ll be adding the non-dairy milk. Mix lightly into a shaggy dough and don’t be afraid to use your hands to bring it all together. A light touch prevents a tough scone. And finally, bake until just barely golden. They tend to darken much faster on the bottom (at least in my dumb oven), so pull them out of the oven at the slightest hint of golden brown on the top.
As an aside, I know baking isn’t everyone’s thing, so I seldom include baked goods on the meal plans, give or take a few muffins. Instead I tend to introduce you to baking projects here on the blog. And while I recognize a major goal of most vegans is healthy living, we all need an opportunity to indulge! Also, it doesn’t mean you need to eat every tasty morsel you bake, spread those goodies around. If I bake two dozen cookies, no more than half remain in the house. Friends, neighbors and coworkers are all the delighted recipients of my efforts. Psst, this is also an excellent tactic for lobbying converts! Once your vegan baking skills have been sharpened, there’s nothing like a tasty little treat to give an omnivore pause and maybe, just maybe consider that a plant-based diet doesn’t have to sacrifice anything at all. It’s about finding new ways to reinvent old friends and finding satisfaction without sacrificing flavor or values. Enjoy, and I hope there’s a rainy day in your future too!
From The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Makes eight to ten scones
- 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg replacer
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup Earth Balance
- 1 cup currants or raisins
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- extra soy milk and flour as needed
- sugar for sprinkling on top
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet or use a parchment paper to line it.
- In a food processor or by hand, whip the egg replacer and water together until creamy and white. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut into small pieces using two knives or a pastry blender. You want a coarse, crumbly mixture with pea-sized chunks of butter. Stir in currants.
- Add the egg replacer and non-dairy milk to the bowl and mix lightly until just combined. Over mixing will make for tough scones.
- Gather the dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 8 or 10 pieces. Place them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet, brush the tops with non-dairy milk and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until lightly golden brown on top, about 12-14 minutes. Cool on a rack or serve warm.