Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

Usually, my trips to Traders Joes are surigcal.  I’m there right when they open.  I have a list. And, I follow the list with tunnel vision.  I do not stroll.  I do not look around me. This is because  I have to do my TJs run on Saturday mornings.  Just like everyone else.

A couple of months ago my parents were in town for a visit.  They live outside of Bozeman Montana.  And while it has a lot going for it, Bozeman does not have a Trader Joes (I think the closest one is in Salt Lake City).

My parents have lived there full-time for nearly 10 years.  My mom still hasn’t gotten over the lack of a local TJs.

For this reason, California visits by my parents involve multiple trips to Trader Joes.  I was out and about with them for one visit.  Because it wasn’t Saturday morning, my local TJs was actually hospitable.  So, we worked our way up and down every single aisle.  By aisle two I had to abandon my basket for a cart as treasures like I’d never seen were revealed to me.  Pancake bread?  Yes please.  Mushroom umami salt?  Sign me up.  Dried hibiscus flowers?  Sure–I know I can come up with a way to use them.

I am a collector of “things I’ll figure out how to bake with.”  I have two bins full of wonders like honey powder, freeze dried corn and dried blueberries.

This time, I actually already had something in mind when I picked up the dried hibiscus flowers.  Whole Foods makes a fantastic ginger scone.  They’re crumbly, spicy and just sweet enough.  I don’t eat them very often but every time I do I think “I gotta make these.” I then immediately forget until the next time I eat a Whole Foods ginger scone.  You know how it goes.

Luckily, I’d just had one the week before so the pump was primed.  Hibiscus flowers are aromatic, slightly sour (but in the good way) and at least to my taste buds, reminiscent of citrus.  I thought they might be good friends with candied ginger.

I used buttermilk in this recipe as opposed to the traditional cream because I already had it. I worked.  But, cream would work too.

And instead of traditional pie wedges, I decided to go with cut-out rounds.  That’s how Whole Foods does them.

But, I give instructions for both shapes in the recipe (and, next time I make them, I’ll do the wedges–these looked too much like biscuits to my eyes).

My guess was correct–ginger and hibiscus do pair well together.  The same combo would also be great in a muffin or loaf.

Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

adapted from Ginger Scones by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes

makes 12-18 scones depending on size

Ingredients

  • 3 C (400 g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C (160 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C (110 g) candied ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 C (73g) dried hibiscus flowers (found at Trader Joes)*
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, grated
  • 3/4 C (200 ml)  buttermilk at room temp
  • 10 TBS (140 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 TBS coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • 1 egg + 2 TBS water (for egg wash)

* There are multiple kinds of hibiscus flours.  For this recipe, I used the kind that are similar to dried fruits like these dried eatable hibiscus flowers.  You can also get hibiscus flours that have been dried for tea.  This version is more desiccated like these organic hibiscus flowers.  The latter would work as well but the result would be more like adding dried tea to the dough rather than a dried fruit.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (or 200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in the gingers and hibiscus flowers until combined.
  4. Add-in the cold butter pieces. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture until the “dough” resemble wet sand with larger pea-sized pieces of butter.
  5. Create a well in the center of the flour, pour in  the buttermilk. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until the flour mixture is just moistened. The mixture should look very shaggy.
  6. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface.  Give the dough two or three kneads (to just barely pull it together).  You have a couple of options here.  To make triangular scones, divide the dough into two and form each into a round disc.  Cut each disc into 6 pie parts.  You could also use a biscuit cutter.  To do this, flatten the dough into a disk.  Using biscuit cutter, cut out rounds.  Once all rounds that will fit have been cut, push remaining dough together and cut again. Repeat until you cannot cut any more rounds.  Do remix dough as you go.  Just squish together.
  7. Place triangles or rounds on baking sheets with a couple of inches in-between each.  Bruch the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until scones are lightly browned on top (start checking at 15 minutes).  Cool on cooling rack.  Best served the day-of but can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container (you just lose the crunchy texture).

Even Mr. Collins couldn’t ruin these: maple pecan oat scones

One of my goals with this blog is to use it as an excuse to try new things.  Expand my culinary arsenal.  Master some mad kitchen skills.  Oh?  You got it the first time? Good.  In this spirit, the next couple of weeks will be all about scones.  Now, I’m a big fan of the idea of the scone.  Just the thought of this crumbly, slightly sweet treat brings to mind images of delicate china cups, green moors kissed by a slowly tumbling fog and Mr. Darcy. Oooooh,  Mr. Darcy (no TD, not Mr. Willoughby…I keep explaining to you, he’s a bad guy…and he’s from a different story).

In reality though, it never occurred to me to try making my own until I discovered that Starbucks appears discontinued my favorite scone (at least in my neck of the woods). Apparently novelty isn’t motivation enough for me…scarcity plays a role as well.  Which brings us to my take on the pecan maple oat scone.

Dorie Greenspan does a fantastic job of laying-out her scone philosophy in her book Baking, From my Home to Yours. Here is the gist: cold butter, all ingredients ready to go in advance, touch everything as little as possible. Understood.

Very cold cubed butter is added to a sifted mixture of sugar, flour, old fashioned oats (not sifted of course) and some levaning agents.

Then, with clean fingertips or a pastry blender (I used my fingers), the butter gets gently incorporated into the dry ingredients until you’ve got a sort of sandy mixture with little peas (while apt, not a particularly palatable description).

Cream and an egg are added and the dough gets a couple of turns until it just comes together.  I then added about a cup of roughly chopped candied pecans.

The tender dough then gets turned-out onto a floured surface and shaped into a disk.

Then cut into six wedges (I realize eight wedges is easier and will do this next time).

Into the oven for about 20 minutes where they expanded slightly and turned golden brown.

Once cooled, I topped these babies with a maple frosting.  Dorie doesn’t use a frosting in the original recipe but, I have to admit, my favorite part of the discontinued Starbucks version was the frosting.  I know, making scones with frosting is sort of like saying you are a wine drinker who prefers white zinfandel.  Whatever.

Mmmm…almost as good as Starbucks. And, if served for tea,  they just might get you a clandestine but very appreciative cut of the eyes from Mr. Darcy.

Oh, and one more thing.  More of an observation on a coincidence.  Unlike Mr. Darcy’s affection for Ms. Bennett, I’ve made no secret of my own love for the Smitten Kitchen.  I love her like a fat boy loves cake.  Which is why I feel the need to point out that she also has a scone recipe up this week.  What is funny is that this isn’t the first time we’ve had similar posts within a week.  More like the third or fourth.  It would be one thing if each time the recipes had recently appeared in the popular press or periodicals. Nope.  Another entirely if it weren’t for the fact that I suspect she, like me, often cooks and photographs a recipe weeks in advance of posting.  So really what I’m trying to say here is that I swear I’m not copying!   Not to go all quantum physics on you all (doing so would first require that  understand the topic), but I do sort of believe that just maybe perhaps there is a baking stream of consciousness and that at least when it comes to pastry, there is some rhyme and reason to the chaos.

Maple Pecan Oat Scones

Adapted from Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones, by Dorie Greenspan, Baking, From my home to yours, Houghton Mifflin Company

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C cold buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 C old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick plus 2 TBS (10 TBS) cold unsalted butter, cult into small pieces–leave in fridge until ready to use
  • 1 C roughly chopped pecans (I used candied because it’s what I had–use whatever you have)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, placing rack in center.  Line bake sheet with parchment

  1. Stir egg and buttermilk together, set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into oats. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Drop-in butter and, using your fingers,  toss to coat the pieces of butter.  Working with your fingertips or pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly and sandy.
  4. Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until just blended and the dough comes together. Add-in pecans.  Then, gently need the dough by hand 8-10 times.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and gently shape each piece into a 5-inch disk.  Cut each disk into 6 wedges and place on baking sheet (I had to do some creative placement to get all 12 on the sheet with distance in between.  You could easily do in two batches, just be sure to refrigerate the second batch while the first is cooking).  Dorie notes that at this point, you can freeze the dough–when working from frozen scones, don’t bother defrosting, just add two minutes to the cooking time.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and firmish.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

for frosting

  • 2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • water to consistency

Preparation

  1. Using a hand mixer (or by hand), add syrups into sugar and beat until combined.  Add-in extract and then slowly add-in water until you reach your desired consistency.  Top scones cooled scones.