Cardamom Date Scones (Vegan)

Cardamom Date Scones

Cardamom Date Scones

As long-time followers of this blog know, I love doing variations on scones. Inspiration has struck again, and with Thanksgiving coming up, I thought now would be a good time to talk about “breakfast breads”. Pastries of various kinds figure into many breakfast menus, and though muffins aren’t a pastry, they’re usually included, but scones often don’t make the list. This is shame because you can do almost anything flavor-wise with a scone, and they’re easier faster and easier to make from scratch than any kind of pastry or muffin (with the possible exception of Every Day Muffins which are a make-ahead thing). So put aside your ideas of scones only for elevenses or late afternoon tea and think about fast easy scones for Thanksgiving morning when you’re up, in the kitchen, and looking for a delicious breakfast that doesn’t require the kind of extensive prep that the holiday meal does. You can browse the scone tag (which includes contributions from all the blog’s authors) or just go with these Cardamom Date Scones I’m making for breakfast on Thanksgiving this year. Flavored with cardamom, orange peel, and dates, these scones need very little added sugar, and the flavor is out of this world!

  • 2 1/2 cups organic flour
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbls sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp dried orange peel (just the usual from grocery store spice aisle)
  • 8 Tbls margarine (1/2 cup)
  • ⅓ cup pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped
  • ½ cup organic soy milk (maybe a little more)

Preheat oven 425.

I used pitted Medjool dates for this. Dried date pieces would probably work too, but they’ll contribute less moisture to the recipe so a bit more liquid may be required.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and spices, then cut in margarine with a pastry cutter or fork. Work margarine in with your hands until evenly distributed and the mixture doesn’t have any conspicuous lumps. Then add the dates. If you used Medjool dates that you chopped yourself instead of dried pieces, you’ll need to break up the sticky clumps with your hands and work them into the mixture until it’s more or less homogeneous. Add the soy milk. The dough should come together with a little kneading and not be too dry. If it doesn’t feel right, you can add a tiny splash more milk.

Divide the dough into two balls, then flatten them into rounds (about an inch or so thick) on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut each round into six wedges. Separate the wedges so they aren’t touching.

Bake in preheated oven 12 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve with a mug of strong black tea. I’ve noticed that the flavor of the spices (the cardamom in particular) seem stronger when the scones are fresh and hot, right out of the oven. But they’re still quite good the next day (assuming you have any left)!

Gingerbread Scones (Vegan)

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A nice cup of tea and a gingerbread scone. Ahhhh….

If my last post, Irish Black Ginger Cake, was a bit too strong for you, try this mellow taste of autumn instead. This is an adaptation of my Ginger Bread recipe (which I also adapted to make gingerbread men). What I did to adapt this into scones was to eliminate the egg (which isn’t needed in any of my scone recipes), increase the flour slightly (because scone dough needs to be less wet than a quick bread), then adjust the levening and amount of margarine to be like my typical scone recipes. Because I didn’t touch any ingredients that contributed to the wonderful autumn flavor, these taste just like my Ginger Bread. Lovely! If you’re curious about how I come up with my scone recipes and how you can do adaptations of your own, check out my Fakin’ It When You Bake It: Scones post. For more scones (mine and others) check out the scones tag.

2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. margarine (1 stick or 8 Tbls)
1/2 c. soy milk
1/2 c. molasses

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in margarine until it’s worked in well and the mixture is crumbly.

Measure milk and molasses and stir the two together. Pour into scone mixture. Stir well until dough starts to come together, then knead a bit with your hands until it comes together into a smooth dough. Divide into two balls, flatten each on baking sheet and cut each into six wedges. Separate the pieces slightly so that they aren’t touching.

Bake 425 for 12-14 mins, or until done. (Your oven may vary.)

Hazelnut Date Scones (Vegan)

Hazelnut date scones, piping hot!

Hazelnut date scones, piping hot!

This is yet another variation on my Hazelnut Scones Three Ways recipe. This is a fourth variation, with an added twist that I used soy milk for the milk. I’m experimenting with substituting soy milk in some recipes and used it recently in Apricot Ginger Scones, so I thought I’d see how it works in this recipe which has ground hazelnuts as half the base. The soy milk worked well and the dates were a good addition to this hazelnut scone recipe. I’m sure that there are some add-ins which won’t go well with hazelnuts, but so far I haven’t found any! If you’d like to browse my other scones recipes (and related articles) check out the scones tag. I’m in the process of testing my various scone recipes with soy milk; as I do I’ll make a note in each recipe if that substitution works.

I’ve used both dried chopped dates and whole pitted dates which I chopped myself. They both make delicious scones. I use slightly more dates than I do add-ins in my Hazelnut Scones 3 Ways recipe.

  • 1 1/4 cups of ground hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1Tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbls sugar
  • 8 Tbls Smart Balance Original margarine
  • 1/3 cup dried dates (I used SunMaid Deglet Noor dates)
  • 1/2 cup Silk Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk

Preheat oven 425.

If you don’t have access to hazelnut meal (which I’ve rarely seen), do as I do and grind hazelnuts into a meal in either a coffee grinder or food processor. The meal will be soft and fluffy so it needs to be pressed down in the measuring cup to get an accurate measure. It only takes seconds to make the small amount of meal needed for the recipe, so this extra step in scone making does not add an appreciable amount of time or effort to the preparation.

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in margarine with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers. Then toss in dates. Mix in with your fingers, breaking up any pieces that look or feel too big. This is especially important if you used whole dates which you chopped yourself, not because you did a poor job of chopping, but because those dates are much stickier and tend to clump. Separate out any clumps and sift through your fingers until the mix looks more or less homogenous.

Add soy milk. Stir until it forms a sticky dough. Form into a dozen balls, about 2 inches in diameter, I’d guess.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 425 for 15 minutes. Your oven may vary. Scones should be slightly browned on top and done all the way through when tested with a toothpick. If some of the balls of dough were bigger than others, test those for doneness.

While the scones are baking, make a pot of tea (or coffee, if you prefer). These scones go particularly well with strong black British breakfast tea blends. Serve the scones hot from the oven. Store cooled leftover scones in an airtight container. They’re good the next day, too! (Assuming you have any left over!) 😉

 

Apricot Ginger Scones (Vegan)

20150331_161943Usually when trying something new I try to limit changes to one thing at a time so I know which new thing is the problem if my “fake it when you bake it” recipe goes awry, but I was pretty sure this was going to work out okay, so I used soy milk to see how vegan would work for scones. I’ve had this flavor combination in mind for a while, but only just recently threw a bunch of ingredients together and tried it out. Oh, wonderful!

I love crystalized ginger. I put it in my tea sometimes, or snack on it. But I realize that its combination of sharp and sweet may not be to everyone’s tastes, and I didn’t want it to overwhelm the other flavors so I used less of it than the dried fruit. More than 1/8th cup, but less than 1/4 cup. The ginger and nutmeg play very well together. Also, because the crystalized ginger is lightly dusted with sugar — and the fruit is sweet, too — I can get away with very little added sugar in this recipe. You might could pare the added sugar down even more, depending on how sweet you like your scones.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbls sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8 Tbls margarine
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup crystalized ginger, diced
  • 2/3 cup soy milk (I used Silk organic unsweetened)

Preheat oven 425. Stir together all the dry ingredients (first five ingredients). Then blend in the margarine with a fork, pastry cutter, or just use your hands, until it’s all worked in evenly. Toss in the fruits and stir in well so that it’s evenly distributed. Pour in soy milk. Stir until the dough starts to come together, then use your hands and knead it until it makes a firm round of dough. Divide into two more or less equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then a flattened round probably 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut each into 6 equal wedge-shaped pieces. Separate the wedges on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until done. (If the wedges don’t come out equal sized, then test the larger ones with a toothpick for doneness when you take them out of the oven.)

This is heavenly! Good as is, or broken apart with a dab of margarine inside. You could put jam on them, but this has so much fruit and flavor that jam might be overkill! 😉

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Fakin’ It When You Bake It: Scones

I thought today I’d give you a behind-the-brain look at how I came up with my scone recipes. There are some general rules of thumb and things to look out for which may help you if you want to create a recipe from scratch or modify an existing one. I have begun to “veganize” some of my scones recipes by substituting soy milk for milk. A note about whether this is an appropriate substitution will be added to recipes after I test them. My Apricot Ginger Scones were my first vegan scone and they were great! (If you want more vegan scones, check out Nancy’s raisin buns and tea buns!)

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

The first thing is the baking powder and salt ratio. You may notice that I tend to use 1 Tbls of baking powder to 1/2 tsp salt. The reason why is that over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of recipes for scones and muffins use these amounts. Not all do, but I’ve noticed this particular ratio more consistently than others. Of course it depends on what you’re making and how much. For a dozen, that seems to be about right. If you want to experiment with the amount of levening, this is a good place to start.

Of course, a lot depends on the amount of flour and other dry ingredients. For a dozen scones, amounts of flour range from 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 cups. I use organic unbleached all purpose flour.

I also add protein powder to some of my baking recipes. A friend recently asked me what it was, what could be substituted, and why it was even in the recipe. I felt foolish for assuming that everyone had heard of protein powder for protein shakes…and other baking needs. I use unflavored because it can be added to other recipes besides shakes. The protein powder is whey protein. Depending on the brand (and your own vegan or vegetarian practices) it may or may not be suitable for you. (Not all powders are made using animal rennet.) My rationale in not going into this in the recipes is that if you’re okay with using low fat milk in the recipes, you’re probably going to be okay with using whey protein, too. But why the heck am I putting this in my baked goods??

Cinnamon Vanilla Scones. They smell amazing hot from the oven!

Cinnamon Vanilla Scones. They smell amazing hot from the oven!

Whey protein has been proven to help stabilize blood sugar, so if you’re diabetic or have concerns about carbs going off like a bomb in your blood stream, the addition of extra protein will help some. (Though limiting the amount you eat will also help. If you stuff yourself with a plateful of scones, the small amount of protein that’s added is not going to save you!) The addition of protein powder also, I’ve noticed, makes the scones brown up nicely in the oven. You can use all flour instead of substituting protein power for some of the flour, but the scones may be still pretty pale when they’re done.

I would caution you about substituting a lot of protein powder for flour. It’s not a grain. It changes the consistency of the dough. I once ran out of flour and ended up substituting protein powder for half the flour…without changing any other ingredient amounts. The dough was a wet sticky mess, which ended up more like drop cookies than scones.

And that’s why you may need to change the amount of liquid in a recipe if you substitute unflavored whey protein powder for part of the flour. The dough will be wetter and stickier than if you use flour alone, so don’t just dump the usual amount of milk (or water) in. I use less milk in recipes since I started experimenting with protein powder.

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

Another nutritious addition to scones is to substitute a nut meal for part of the flour. I’ve only used hazelnut meal (I really love hazelnuts), but it will make the dough wetter and stickier and you just have to more or less go with it…otherwise you’ll just keep adding more flour which will be absorbed and the dough will become sticky again and you’ll add more flour etc. until you end up with a very dense scone. Nuts are a good source of protein, so if you don’t want to use (or don’t have) protein powder, you can add a bit of protein by substituting a nut meal for part of the flour.  My hazelnut scones (plain, chocolate, and cranberry) are a good starting place if you want to try a nuttier scone.

I also use less sugar because I honestly don’t think scones need to be as sweet as candy. They’re supposed to be only slightly sweet, or have enough sugar that they don’t taste flat and un-sweet. If you want something as sweet as a cinnamon roll, then you should probably just go with a cinnamon roll. 😉

Cheese Scones. Warm, dense and delicious.

Cheese Scones. Warm, dense and delicious.

Of course, there’s a whole category of savory scones, of which cheese scones are probably the best known. It’s worth experimenting with different cheeses if you are a mouse. 😉 Here’s my cheesy scones. (Many cheeses are not made with animal rennet these days, so if you’re scrupulous about this, there are quite a few options.)

For the fat in the recipe…and sadly, baking really good things usually does require the addition of fat….this is part of kitchen chemistry. The fat has an essential role in the way the ingredients of baked goods come together, as well as flavor. I use Smart Balance Original. Varying the type of fat can change the texture of scones, but whether you use full fat butter or some margarine substitute, it will probably still taste good. I’ve used a variety of margarines over the years and though I have noticed a difference in the way the scones turn out, nothing has ever turned out bad because of the type of fat I use. (The exception to this is substituting oil for a more solid-ish fat. If you use oil, you’ll need to use less of it, if the recipe calls for butter or margarine, otherwise you’ll end up with something really greasy.)

Flavors…ahhhh…flavorings. As you may have guessed from some of my other posts I like finding a good formula and then swapping off flavor combinations. (An extravagant example of this is my oatmeal and yogurt breakfast improvisions.)  I’ve begun experimenting with flavor extracts and spices in scones as you’ve seen in my recent  Lemon Poppyseed Scones and Cinnamon Vanilla Scones posts. I anticipate doing more along these lines, and hope you will too!

So, you see, I’m not quite the mad scientist in the kitchen that I appear to be. 😉 I hope this peek into my process when doing scone improvisations will help you with your own baking experiments. 🙂

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

Cinnamon Vanilla Scones

Cinnamon Vanilla Scones. They smell amazing hot from the oven!

Cinnamon Vanilla Scones. They smell amazing hot from the oven!

The cinnamon I use for this — and everything these days — is a very strong type usually sold as either “Saigon Cinnamon” or “Vietnamese Cinnamon”. You’ll know it when you get a whiff if it. It smells amazing! It’s not like regular grocery store cinnamon (which is fine if you don’t have access to stronger cinnamons, though you may want to use a bit more).

This recipe is a variation of the Lemon Poppyseed Scones recipe from last week. By the way…the browner look of these scones is due to the addition of the vanilla extract!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbls sugar
  • 1/3 cup unflavored protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven 425.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, unflavored whey protein powder, and cinnamon. Cut in margarine (I use Smart Balance Original) with a fork, pastry blender or your hands. I usually start by breaking up the margarine with a fork and then rub in the margarine with my hands until it’s a nice homogenous mixture.

Measure milk, then add 2 tsp vanilla extract to it. Pour milk and vanilla extract mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Stir rapidly with a fork until the dough starts to hold together in clumps, then use your hands to knead it very gently and briefly into a ball of dough. (Over-kneading will result in a tougher scone.)

Divide the ball into two more or less equal pieces, shaping the dough into two equal flattened disks, about an inch in thickness.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Cut each disk into six more or less equal wedges, then separate the wedges so there’s about an inch at least between them.

Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean…your oven may vary from mine).

The scent of cinnamon and vanilla is a very heady mixture. These scones are amazing hot out of the oven. Serve with strong hot tea.

They’re also good with coffee, if you prefer that to tea. If you really want to take the flavor over the top, and you live somewhere where there’s an HEB or Central Market, look for Lola Savannah Cinnamon Stick coffee. Lola Savannah is a small batch roaster in Houston. Their Cinnamon Stick coffee (also available as decaf) is more cinnamon-y than any other I’ve tasted. This may be overkill with these scones but I thought I should mention it for coffee lovers and cinnamon fiends. 😉

If you have any scones left over, Store in an air-tight container after the scones have cooled.

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

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It took me a long time to get this recipe just right. I ran through quite a few batches with unsatisfactory results first using lemon yogurt, then using fresh squeezed lemon juice, then a few more batches using bottled lemon juice, before I just gave up and went for the simplest flavor option. Lemon extract. Using an extract has a number of advantages. You don’t have to try to balance dry ingredients with wet ingredients, which means that if my recipe doesn’t appeal to you, you can use your own favorite plain scone recipe and add lemon extract to it, without having to substantially alter the existing recipe. Also, it comes in small bottles and has a longer shelf life than yogurt, lemons, or lemon juice so likely it won’t go to waste.

Soymilk can be subsituted for milk, but that won’t make this recipe vegan, strictly speaking, because (as I understand it) most whey is not made using plant-based or microbial enzymes. For more about ingredients and modifying scone recipes, see my Fakin’ It When You Bake It: Scones post.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbls sugar
  • 1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk (or soymilk)
  • 2 tsp lemon extract

Preheat oven 425.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, unflavored whey protein powder, and poppy seeds. Cut in margarine (I use Smart Balance Original) with a fork, pastry blender or your hands. I usually start by breaking up the margarine with a fork and then rub in the margarine with my hands until it’s a nice homogenous mixture. Measure milk, then add 2 tsp lemon extract to it. Pour milk and lemon extract mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir rapidly with a fork until the dough starts to hold together in clumps, then use your hands to knead it very gently and briefly into a ball of dough. (Over-kneading will result in a tougher scone.) Divide the ball into two more or less equal pieces, shaping the dough into two equal flattened disks, about an inch in thickness. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Cut each disk into six more or less equal wedges, then separate the wedges so there’s about an inch at least between them. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes (or until  a toothpick comes out clean…your oven may vary from mine).

The scones are very tender and almost melt in your mouth right out of the oven. Serve with strong hot tea. If you’re not serving them immediately to a pack of ravenous friends, leftover scones are still very good the next day. 😉 Store in an air-tight container after the scones have cooled.

Enhanced Cheese Scones

Cheese Scones. Warm, dense and delicious.

Cheese Scones. Warm, dense and delicious.

Want something a bit more substantial than sweets to go with your tea? You can’t beat cheese scones. I’ve “enhanced” these with unflavored protein powder to add a bit more nutrition. The reason I use Cheshire for cheese scones is simple: it tastes good with a flavor similar to Cheddar (which is the default cheese for most cheese scone recipes) and it’s hard and crumbly. American cheddars usually require grating; you can’t just break off a piece and crumble it up. I’ve tried a couple of different Cheshires and they can always be crumbled. Which saves time and effort. No tools or appliances necessary.

2 cups flour
1 Tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unflavored whey protein powder, not packed
1/2 cup margarine
approx 1/4 lb Cheshire cheese
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven 425.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and unflavored protein powder in a bowl. Cut in the margarine with a fork, pastry blender, or — better still — your hands, mixing it until the margarine lumps are gone and the mixture feels slightly damp and clingy. Crumble in the Cheshire cheese.

Add approximately 1/2 cup water (it may take just a tiny bit more) and knead into a firm dough. You can do this bit right in the bowl. Divide the dough into two more or less equal pieces. Shape into rounds.

Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, flattening them out a bit. (Probably 6 inches in diameter. It’s not like I take a ruler to my scones!) Slice each round into 6 wedges. Try to make them close to the same size otherwise some will be done sooner than others.

Separate the wedges to about 1 inch apart at least.

Bake 425 for 12-15 mins, depending on your oven and how thick the scones are.

Makes a dozen scones. Served with tea or…soup! (Soup tag for blog.) This goes really well with hot hearty soups, sort of a cheesy biscuit (in the American sense of the word).

Hazelnut Scones Three Ways

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

I threw this together because I wanted something a bit different for Thanksgiving morning, but with the variations they’re the perfect yummy scone for any time.  I usually make cranberry scones for Thanksgiving morning, but I had some hazelnuts on hand so decided to use them to make up a new recipe. It took two tries to get it just right. After that I went on to make this recipe without the cranberries, then — because it’s such a natural combination — I made a batch using chocolate which debuted at my Hair of the Dog Brunch this year. So here it is: plain hazelnut scones, hazelnut scones with dried cranberries, and hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips. Easy and delicious. 😀

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

1 1/4 cups of ground hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups flour
1Tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbls sugar
8 Tbls Smart Balance Original margarine
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (optional) OR 1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup milk (Silk Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk may be substituted)

Preheat oven 425.

If you don’t have access to hazelnut meal (which I’ve rarely seen), do like I do and grind hazelnuts into a meal in either a coffee grinder or food processor. The meal will be soft and fluffy so it needs to be pressed down in the measuring cup to get an accurate measure. It only takes seconds to make the small amount of meal needed for the recipe, so this extra step in scone making does not add an appreciable amount of time or effort to the preparation.

Mix dry ingredients, cut in margarine with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers. (Then toss in dried sweetened cranberries or mini-chocolate chips if desired.) Add milk. Stir until it forms a sticky dough. Form into a dozen balls, about 2 inches in diameter, I’d guess.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 425 for 15 minutes. (Your oven may vary. Scones should be slightly browned on top and done all the way through.)

While the scones are in the oven make a pot of tea or coffee. Relax. Enjoy. 🙂

Raisin Buns

raisin tea bunsA childhood favourite of mine, I have adapted this recipe to my grown-up vegan requirements (which was quite easy to do).  Lovely and sweet, these buns go well with a cup of tea or coffee.  They are also a replacement for cookies when it comes to dessert.  You may notice this recipe is similar to my recipe for tea buns.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour (I have used whole wheat and spelt, but also good with all-purpose)
  • 25ml  (5 tsp) baking powder
  • 5ml (1 tsp) salt
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup milk (soy or almond)

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Cut in butter so the consistency is like breadcrumbs.  Add raisins and milk.  Roll out onto floured surface.  As is the family tradition, use a drinking glass to cut out circles.  Whilst I use a small glass for tea buns, raisin buns are so yummy I use a large one!  A large glass will still deliver a dozen buns.

Place on baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let cool…if you can resist that long.