These short, squat and homely scones will get tall and puffy once baked.
It started to rain in earnest last weekend, waking me up at 6 am, much earlier than I would like on a Saturday. Spring rain always makes me dream of hunting for morel mushrooms. Lots of rain followed by lots of sun is a recipe for morels popping up all over the valley floor.
The rain also made me crave a warm Maple Oat Scone, fresh from the oven and dripping with a maple syrup glaze, and of course a big pot of coffee, and some strawberry smoothies.
Fresh strawberries blended with almond milk and a bit of honey remind me of the liquados you can get in Latin America.
Maple is the key word here. Real maple syrup goes into the scone dough, along with buttermilk and quick oats. The maple syrup is then whisked with confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract to glaze the tops of the crusty still-warm scones. Normally I would skip the glaze, but here it is crucial to this not-too-sweet scone.
The oats look nice sprinkled on top, but if you are feeling lazy, skip it. You could also skip the brushing with egg wash before baking, but it does give them a nice sheen.
Getting to the bottom of my last jug of real maple syrup reminded me that I'll need to order more. For the last few years I have been ordering directly from the Hamilton family in Maine, the parents of a girl who used to nanny for me. Once Amy gave me a jug of their dark amber syrup, and I was hooked.
To order from the Hamilton family in Maine, you just have to send Tom an email. He sends it flat rate through the post office to minimize shipping costs.
I wondered how important it was to seek out an organic product, or did that just increase the already high cost? I asked Tom Hamilton, my source for organic real maple syrup from Maine.
Tom explained that organic maple trees are grown without pesticides, although they are rarely needed. The syrup is processed without formaldehyde, a practice that was once used. More importantly it seems, the labor-intensive process is more kind to the environment with an organic maple syrup: no synthetic defoamers are used, only organic oils are use in processing, and only 3 taps per tree are allowed.
To order from the Hamilton family, see Sources below. Their syrup is pricey but worth it, and having a few extra jugs around provide many impromptu hostess gifts.
Perusing the aisles of a Whole Foods Market in Colorado, I found that the 365 Whole Foods brand of Grade A dark amber maple syrup was a steal, and almost as good as my longstanding favorite from Rockwall Maples Farm, although theirs is darker and richer.
A friend of mine gets her real maple syrup fix by ordering from Amazon.com. She has found that if you set up regular shipments, the cost is reduced and the shipping is free. See Sources, below.
After the rain stopped, the backyard moose came out of the bushes to bask in the weak sunshine.
This has nothing to do with maple syrup, but this luscious Tajarin pasta with duck egg, pancetta, fava beans and summer savory I had last week at Frasca in Boulder, Colorado proves that it really is spring somewhere.
Real maple syrup is not just for pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, and maple oat scones. It is also the key ingredient in my favorite salad dressing: Maple Soy Vinaigrette. If you make a pint jar of this dressing, it will keep in the back of your refrigerator for at least a month. Use it for salads, especially those with apples or pears, walnuts, and goat cheese. Toss a bit of this dressing with roasted root vegetables (parsnips are my favorite) for a warm vegetable salad.
This also has nothing to do with maple syrup, but serves as a gentle reminder to plan your garden. I had planted these carrots last June, and forgot about them until November, which was perfect timing. They were the sweetest carrots ever.
Since I'm going on and on about maple syrup, I'll also mention that it is so easy to make maple syrup butter like Marion Cunningham does in The Breakfast Book. A blending of maple syrup, water and butter "is not just economical, it actually enriches and rounds out the pure maple taste." I would not argue with Marion Cunningham, an authority on breakfast and all things good to eat.
Another sure sign of spring: strawberries are cheap, sweet and plentiful.
Throw the overly ripe, not too pristine berries into a smoothie.
So because it is a rainy day, I will post all three of my favorite recipes that showcase real maple syrup. Grade A dark amber or Grade B real maple syrup (see definitions below) are worth the splurge.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Maple Oat Scones
This recipe comes from Ina Garten, "The Barefoot Contessa". I have downsized the scones a bit, and cut back on the frosting. These scones are so hearty and filling that they just don't need to be any bigger than an iPhone.
No adjustments were made for altitude. Grade A amber or Grade B syrup would be good choices.
Makes 14 large or 20 small scones
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water, for egg wash
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Check your oven thermometer to make sure your oven temp is accurate. Make your egg wash. (Mis en Place!)
- Cut the butter into small dice, then put it in a bowl and stash in the freezer while you get everything else ready. It helps if it is really cold.
- Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
- Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs (I use a 4 cup measure to measure and beat the eggs, so as not to dirty another bowl), and add quickly to the flour/butter mixture.
- Mix until just blended. (Over-blending makes for a tough scone). The dough may be sticky. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.
- Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and mix by hand to make sure all is combined. Flour a rolling pin and your hands, and roll out the dough to 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick (for Ina's version) or 1/2 inch (for my down-sized version).
- Cut into 3 inch rounds, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 17 minutes for the smaller scones, 20-25 minutes for the larges ones. The tops should be crisp, but do not overbake.
- Combine the glaze ingredients, and drizzle on the cooled scones. Sprinkle each scone with a few more oats, if you like, or skip this part. The extra glaze keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also cut out the scones, and hold them in the refrigerator to bake up fresh a few days later. I like to bake all the scones, then freeze some unglazed, and then glaze after defrosting. So many choices!
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Maple Soy Vinaigrette
My favorite salad dressing is known around here as "Emily's Dressing", after a local private chef who has since moved on to bigger and better things. This recipe has been requested by just about everyone I have ever served a salad topped with this yummy dressing. I like it tossed with roasted vegetables too...Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots and parsnips come to mind.
- 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin or pure)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic (average size), minced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a blender, a food processor, or with an immersion blender until smooth. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.
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Maple Syrup Butter
If you need breakfast inspiration, I highly recommend Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, where I found this recipe. I don't really care for cooking breakfast, although I find myself making breakfast for my family every day. I don't even like to eat breakfast unless it is served to me in a fancy hotel or a good Mexican restaurant.
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Put the syrup, water, and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Stir to blend.
Serve on your pancakes and waffles.
Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the back corner) and reheat as needed.
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Maple Syrup Sources:
Rockwall Maple Farms: Grade A dark and extra dark amber maple syrup. 207-474-3973, mailto:Hamilton@hciwireless.net
Brown Family Farm Grade A amber maple syrup through Amazon.com
Coombs Family Farms Grade B dark amber maple syrup through Amazon.com (ordering regularly scheduled shipments through Amazon will save you on the cost of each jug and on shipping).
Maple Syrup Grading
Real maple syrup is not to be confused with "pancake syrup", which is high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavor, and not allowed by law to have the word "maple" on the label.
Maple syrup is graded according to flavor and color. The US grading system is as follows:Fancy or Grade AA: a light amber colored syrup with a mild flavor
Grade A: a medium amber syrup with a mellow flavor
Grade B: a dark amber, hearty flavored syrup, great for baking
Grade C: a very dark and robust, molasseslike syrup
Warming maple syrup not only keeps pancakes and waffles warmer but makes the syrup more flavorful. Heat maple syrup in the microwave on high for 30-60 seconds.
From The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst