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.
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.