High Country Baking: Oat scones
High Country Baking
High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
The holidays are over, it’s time for simpler meals, but we still want foods that make coming to the table pleasurable. So, I made these oat scones for breakfast. Wholesome, whole-grain goodness, flavored with raisins and cinnamon, and boasting a light, tender crumb, they make the morning special.
These scones aren’t the type the Brits nibble at afternoon tea. Made without eggs or heavy cream, these aren’t as rich — more like a sweetened biscuit than scones with a higher fat content. They come together quickly in a food processor and they freeze well. You can make them days before you’ll use them and simply defrost and rewarm them when they’re needed.
Light handling is the key to the success of these little jewels. So, pulse the ingredients sparingly in the food processor and only until a shaggy dough develops. Stop way before the dough smooths out or makes a ball on the blade. Once you remove the dough from the processor bowl, handle it like a newborn baby, gently turning it on itself and patting it into a disc. When you cut the disc, push your knife straight down, don’t saw or twist it or the dough will compress and toughen.
- Makes 6 scones; the recipe can be doubled
- Adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above
- Bake on a shiny metal baking sheet
- ¾ cup plus 1 teaspoon bleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup regular oatmeal (not instant)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
- ½ cup milk, preferably whole or 2%
- ¾ cup fresh, moist raisins
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line an insulated baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. If you don’t have an insulated cookie sheet, make one by stacking two cookie sheets on top of one another and lining the top one with parchment or foil. Check your raisins, if they aren’t pliant and moist, put them in a bowl, cover them with water, and microwave briefly until they are softened but not cooked. Dry them with a paper towel.
Step 2: Place all the dry ingredients (flour, oatmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in the bowl of a food processor and pulse five or six times (short bursts) until just combined. Cut the butter into six pieces, add it to the dry ingredients, and pulse again until the mixture looks like fine meal.
Step 3: Add the half cup of milk and the raisins and pulse a few times until the flour mixture is completely moistened. The dough should be very shaggy and soft. Don’t pulse until the dough comes together and is smooth.
Step 4: Dump it out on a well-floured sheet of waxed paper and gently fold it over itself a few times, until it is less sticky. Lightly form it into a seven-inch disc. Don’t overwork the dough, it will toughen the scones. Transfer it to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Using a bench scraper or a floured thin sharp knife, cut the disc into six, equal-sized wedges and arrange them with at least two inches between them.
Step 5: Make the topping: Combine the sugar and cinnamon, brush the top of each wedge with milk, and sprinkle the combination generously over top. Bake the scones for about 10-14 minutes, until they are firm and the tops and bottoms are golden. Don’t overbake them or they’ll dry out.
Step 6: Remove them from the oven, let the cool and firm up a little, then serve. Or cool them completely, wrap them airtight and freeze them. To defrost, cover them loosely and let them sit on a counter at room temperature. Reheat them in a 350-degree oven. If you warm them in a microwave they’ll lose their flaky texture.
This recipe is a variation of one published in Malgieri’s How to Bake. Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She’s lived in the mountains since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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