Summer Scones

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I love Kim Boyce. I went to see her at Omnivore Books and basically told her as much. I wrote a review about the cookbook, and I've featured a fabulous cookie recipe from it on my blog. I've convinced four friends to buy the book and I occasionally stalk Kim on Facebook and twitter. I did a little soul searching to try and identify the cause of my almost-obsession. After all, I own a heap of cookbooks--many of which inspire me daily. But Good to the Grain opens up a whole new world for those of us who love to bake and are also interested in whole grain flours, but have been stuck at the whole-wheat sign post, afraid to move on. Kim tested these recipes within an inch of their life and gave a tremendous amount of thought to which particular spices, fruits, and flavors would compliment each flour. The recipes are like jewels, really.

And that brings me to these scones. Ironically, after going on and on about Good to the Grain and the tried and true recipes, I'm going to go ahead and do something odd. Change the recipe. And not because the original printed recipe for Strawberry Barley Scones isn't absolutely heavenly--because it is. I didn't make huge changes. The flour and butter ratios remain the same. But I wanted a little crunch so I toasted hazelnuts and added them in, and I love the flavor of cherry and hazelnut so I used black cherry jam instead of strawberry. Last, I used turbinado sugar on the top more for aesthetic reasons than anything--it browns up beautifully and leaves the top of each scone especially rustic looking.

Spreading black cherry jam onto the bottom layer

If you've never worked with barley flour before, get ready for a treat. It's a light, rather fine flour that lends a certain nutty, almost creaminess that would be otherwise impossible using 100% all-purpose or whole wheat flour. The bits of butter make the scones nice and crumbly, and the jam baked into the center practically caramelizes around the edges. They're lovely to look at and even lovelier to eat. With coffee. With tea. Alone. With friends. At midnight. You get the picture.


Sprinkling toasted hazelnuts, buttering the top, slicing, and baking

Another thing I admire about Kim Boyce is her absolute excitement about each grain, but also the encouraging way she asks you to experiment on your own. This isn't natural for bakers: we tend to be big measurers and followers. So while I think you need to get to know how the flours work first (each works well with a certain amount of liquid and a certain proportion of another kind of flour to balance its gluten content), have some fun. As Kim says, "Once you are comfortable with the recipes, use them as your guide. Be creative. Experiment." So that I did. And Kim (and I) would encourage you to the same.

Black Cherry and Hazelnut Scones
Adapted from: Good to the Grain
Kim likes kosher salt in baked goods. It truly brings out the flavor. While you may find the quantity a bit more than you're used to, jump on the bandwagon. These scones are best right out of the oven or eaten the same day. Store in an air-tight container if you plan to keep them until the next morning.

Dry Mix:
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Wet Mix:
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

To Finish:
1/2 cup black cherry jam (or any jam of your choosing)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 Tbsp. turbinado (or raw) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray or rub lightly with butter.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Pour back into the bowl any bits remaining in the sifter.
3. On a separate baking sheet (not the one you buttered for the scones), toast the hazelnuts for ten minutes or until fragrant. Let cool and slough off majority of skin. Place in plastic bag; crush with a mallet or back end of a metal spoon until they're in small pieces.
4. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture. Use your hands to rub the butter between your fingers and the dry mixture, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue this until the butter is in sizes ranging from rice grains to small peas. Work quickly so the butter doesn't warm (important to this recipes).
5. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk and egg, adding to dry mixture and mixing until barely combined.
6. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. If the dough's too sticky to handle, dust with flour and fold a few more times.
7. Flour your hands, divide dough into two pieces, and pat each piece into a disk 3/4 inch thick and 7-8 inches in diameter.
8. Cover one disk with jam, then sprinkle toasted hazelnuts on top of this layer. Top the spread with the other disk, and press down gently so the dough settles onto the jam.
9. Brush the dough lightly with the melted butter and sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top. Use a sharp knife to slice into 8 triangular wedges and place on a baking sheet leaving a few inches between each.
10. Bake for 22-26 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The scones are ready when they're golden brown on top and some of the jam is bubbling through the center. Let cool on a baking rack.

Makes: 8 scones