Friday, May 6, 2011

Brown-Is-Beautiful Brown Butter Scones

Brown Butter Scones
In her book Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce presents a thoughtful collection of recipes that showcase a variety of whole grains. Going well beyond whole wheat, she introduces grains that may be less familiar, situating them in recipes that highlight its best characteristics.

Her recipe for Brown Butter Scones features teff flour (of Ethiopian injera fame) and rolled oats along with unbleached all-purpose flour. I love the texture of a simple oat scone, but it was the brown butter that really attracted me, thanks in no small part to Boyce’s description.

This scone is about the journey and the destination. As the butter browns, it perfumes the kitchen with the aroma of toasted hazelnuts. The resulting scone, too, is infused with this nutty warmth and flavor. (Side note: Brown butter is called beurre noisette in French. Noisette is the word for hazelnut.)

Because I selected this recipe on the fly, a few substitutions were necessary: Whole wheat stood in for teff and, finding no dark brown sugar in the pantry, I used light brown to replace the equal parts of dark brown and white sugars.

I also altered the process a bit. The original recipe calls for freezing the melted brown butter, then cutting this butter into the dry ingredients as one would normally do making scones or biscuits. Not knowing how long it would take this brown butter to re-solidify, I fell back on the dispersion technique I often use when making fruit crisps. This calls for adding the melted butter directly to the dry ingredients, stirring well and placing this mixture in the freezer to chill. I’ve used this method many times with success. By dispersing the butter throughout the dry ingredients, it will solidify quickly.

My multi-adapted scones were tasty and the kitchen smelled great for hours. Next time I will use teff to see how they were intended to taste.

Brown Butter Scones
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

1 stick of butter
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c light brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1 1/4 t salt
1/2 c heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract

heavy cream for brushing on scones
sugar for sprinkling

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until everything is well incorporated.

Stir the egg, heavy cream and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and set aside.

Put the butter in a high-sided saucepan and bring to medium heat. The butter will melt and turn to gold, then it will get foamy and eventually quite bubbly. You’ll start to see little dark flecks settle to the bottom of the saucepan. When the bottom of the pan seems covered with these little flecks, and when the kitchen smells delicious, you’re done.

Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir slowly and deliberately, ensuring that all the dry ingredients become coated with the melted butter. The flour will resemble cornmeal and the rolled oats will become coated with butter and flour. Now put the bowl in the freezer and allow to chill for about 15 minutes, until the butter re-solidifies.

While you are waiting for the ingredients to chill, preheat the oven to 350.

Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the liquid ingredients. Stir or mix by hand until the dough comes together. Turn it out onto a floured board and bring it together into a round disk about 1 inch thick. With a knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer the scones to a parchment lined baking sheet, taking care to leave an inch or so between each one so that they will brown well on the edges. Brush each scone with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 28 to 34 minutes, or until the scones take on a brown color. Kim Boyce notes that these scones are best when slightly over-baked rather than under-baked.

More recipes with brown butter:
Brown Butter Scones from White on Rice Couple
Brown Butter Biscuit from Playing with Fire and Water
Buttermilk Browned Butter Scones from The Pioneer Woman
Brown Butter-Toasted Oatmeal with Roasted Pears from Simple Bites

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