Reading about the referendum on Scottish independence last week really made me think about the big questions. Independence. Secession. Democracy. The Loch Ness Monster. Scones. I’m sure you’re not surprised. Besides thinking about the United Kingdom and whether or not it should stay united, I’ve been thinking about how much I like British pastry. Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish pastry, equally.
Ok. I don’t actually know that much about British pastry. I went to a French cooking school and I’ve only worked in American kitchens. But I do have some family in the England, and I’ve learned a thing or two from them. First of all, the most obvious of observations: dessert is called “pudding” in the UK and that in itself is a testament to their genius. What sounds tastier? Dessert or pudding? The answer is clear to me.
Second, at a party in England, someone once suggested that I pour double cream over my chocolate cake. Double cream. I don’t even think we can buy that stuff here. It’s probably worse for you than any number of illegal drugs. But it’s outstanding. Super thick heavy cream. Not whipped. Just creamy and luscious poured over already decadent, delicious treats. What’s not to like? So smart, UK.
Third, Dickens-esque Christmas pudding, a kind of steamed fruitcake, is right up my alley. Fruitcake is always a good place to start. Soft, fruit and nut-studded, rum-drenched perfection. Steamed it becomes a revelation. Tender and moist beyond compare. And it’s fun to unwrap a hot cake like a present.
And, of course, the UK gave the world scones. I think about scones all the time. I want them often. They’re humble and cozy. Just sweet enough but not too sugary for breakfast. Craggy, crunchy edges hiding that tender, soft and buttery interior. Perfect with a cuppa. Bloody genius.
The other day I received a package from Deborah. Ten pounds of almond flour. Two pairs of wool socks. That’s my dream care package and my mother-in-law knows it. Parcel perfection. Once I had the socks on, I could get into baking some gluten free scones. I made them with almond flour and sweet sorghum flour. I probably could have gone with just one type of flour, but apparently a slight majority believes they’re "better together".
Gluten Free Apricot Almond Scones
Makes 6 scones
3/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 large egg
1/3 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
sanding sugar, for sprinkling
sliced almonds, for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, almond flour, oat flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal with some larger pea-sized pieces. Add the apricots and gently toss to combine.
2. Whisk together the egg and the cream. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork just until a dough forms. Tip the mixture out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Form the dough into a 6-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 equal triangles. Spread the triangles out evenly on the sheet. Freeze for 10 to15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°.
3. Brush the tops of the frozen scones with cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar and almonds. Bake the scones until golden brown, puffed, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 18 to 20 minutes.