I have sometimes thought about the menu of my own small café. I don't believe it will ever exist outside my imagination, but I enjoy adding to the list something that I think would go well there, like these scones — or the ones with red beet, apple and pistachios I made recently.
I love scones, I always have, from the day, many years ago, when I tasted my first one during my first visit to the UK. They are flavorful and not sweet, nourishing and versatile. They prefer to charm you with their flavor and texture rather than polished looks. I could bake a batch every day. When I do bake a batch, I feel like the day starts on the right note.
The theme of opening a café is present in the book we are currently reading in our Cook the Cooks Club: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe. I wish I could find an elegant way to say this, but I didn't like the novel — and I don't like macarons, which feature prominently in it. The scones were inspired by the novel in the sense that they were a reaction to it. They are unadorned, crisp outside and tender inside, a bit rustic, a bit surprising with their nuanced flavor of carrot punctuated by the small pieces of candied ginger, simply irresistible. Scone are traditionally served with tea and without roses, but I was too excited about cutting the first pink rose of the season from my bush not to share it here.
Today's scones start with two pounds of freshly harvested small carrots, which I prepared using this simple yet lovely recipe by Lynda of TasteFood with a couple of minor adjustments (see below). The result was very much appreciated at the table. As I was putting away the leftovers, I thought about using some to make scones.
The morning after, I had to solve the problem of turning the roasted carrots into a form suitable for scone-making. After some deliberation, I decided to chop them and add them to the food processor after the butter had been cut into the flour. It worked and the scones were a success, so the following week, when I found more carrots in my CSA share, I was ready to repeat the sequence of roasting followed by scone making. As an aside, this time I had a smaller amount of carrots, so I added to the pan a mix of baby turnips (rape novelle) and radishes (ravanelli), a great duo of root vegetables (I will soon share a recipe featuring them).
Ingredients (see my earlier post for additional information on the original recipe and the ingredients; overall, I halved the quantities):
- 3 ounces (85 g) leftover roasted carrots, chopped
- 3 1/2 tablespoons (1.75 oz.) unsalted browned butter (or 4 tablespoon unsalted butter and no ricotta)
- 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour + 1 tablespoon cornmeal + 1 tablespoon teff flour + enough all-purpose flour to make 1 cup OR 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (65 g) whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup finely chopped uncrystallized candied ginger (zenzero candito)
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ultra-fine or granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon ricotta or plain kefir cheese or cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) homemade kefir; original recipe alternatives: buttermilk (latticello), plain yogurt or sour cream (low-fat or non-fat is fine)
How to roast the carrots
The evening before I baked the scones, I prepared the carrots using this recipe with the following minor adjustments:
- I used thyme leaves rather than whole sprigs
- I used only 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- I did not add the sugar in the last step
Since my carrots were more like toddlers than babies, I cut the bigger ones lengthwise and/or crosswise, and it took me some 25 minutes to get them to the tenderness I desired.
You can, of course, choose your favorite method for oven-roasting carrots.
The morning after, weigh the amount of carrots needed for the scones (making sure to incude a nice amount of thyme leaves) and chop them. Set aside.
How to make the scones
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle flour over the surface.
Take the browned butter out of the fridge and let it soften slightly while you prepare the other ingredients. Measure the flours and set aside a tablespoon or so to flour the pieces of candied ginger, so they stay separate when you add them to the dough at the end. Put the rest of the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into the food processor fitted with steel blade. Cut butter into pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse a few times for several seconds until the flour mix resembles coarse meal.
Add the chopped carrots to the food processor and continue pulsing until you see that the carrots have been finely chopped into the flour mix, which will turn into a delicate golden color (see photo above).
Pour dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the floured candied ginger and stir to distribute. In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta and kefir, then add them to the drier mix. Stir with a spatula until ingredients are just combined.
Turn dough onto the lined baking sheet and, with your hands, shape into a 1/2-inch thick square. With a bench scrape, cut into four lengthwise and then crosswise to get 16 small squares. With the help of the bench scrape, separate the pieces, so that they are at least one inch apart. If the corner pieces are much smaller than the rest, join them, so you'll end up with 14-15 scones of comparable size.
Bake for 16 minutes, then check the bottom of one scone: if it is golden brown, they are ready, otherwise, bake for another two minutes and check again. In my experience, these scones take a bit longer to bake than other types of scones I made with the same base recipe, so besides checking the bottom, I also tap on the top to make sure it is crisp, before deciding that the scones are ready and I let them sit for a minute on the baking sheet before moving them onto a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature (temperatura ambiente).
These scones are perfect for breakfast and I like to serve them for
dinner as well, as a bread substitute, with creamy homemade kefir cheese or a spread, like my roasted red pepper and almond dip. As I said above: they are simply irresistible.
Once cooled completely, the scones can be frozen. When I want to serve them, I put them straight in a 350 F oven for 8-10 minutes.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the scone alle carote arrosto audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]