I delved a little further into the world of baking this weekend.
I already mentioned that I had picked up this book from the library and Saturday I marked the 3rd recipe I've gotten to try from it. I have to alter 90% of the recipes to make them vegan, and most of the flours I don't already have on hand, but I'm still contemplating outright purchasing this book. I love how it stretches the limits of what you can do with both typical and atypical flours and grains. Since I can modify most any of the recipes to fit what my pantry actually contains it allows you todecide how ordinary or extraordinary I want to make each recipe.
I had gotten some fresh rhubarb from a coworker this week and have been trying to decide how I wanted to use it. I haven't been brave enough to try a pie just yet, and didn't feel like the dainty, showiness of making tarts so when I came across a recipe for Strawberry Barley Scones it hit a foodie taste bud. Since I recently splurged on a bag of quinoa flour, and I have plans to buy some bread flour for another recipe in this book I opted out of using the barley flour it calls for, instead swapping in some whole wheat flour.
The real highlight of yesterday's cooking was actually the strawberry rhubarb compote. After I did a midpoint taste test I actually said (to no one in particular, mind you) "Oh Wow!" I've never made any sort of jam or compote before and it's so infinitely better (even from a novice's standpoint) that I can't ever imagine justifying using the store bought stuff in the future. In all these created a great and filling breakfast scone. Don't expect a copy of the uber-sweet versions Panera sells. This is better.
So, for the recipes! First, as you can expect, the batter for the scones is adjusted to be vegan, but I noted her [Kim Boyce's] original ingredients in case you want to go that direction. Second, I used the last of my non-frozen strawberries in the compote and added a touch of balsamic vinegar thanks to a suggestion made in Good to the Grain. Third, if you'd like to try the barley flour, just replace it 1:1 for the whole wheat flour I used.
Since is should be sufficiently cooled off now, I'm off to have a slice of homemade lasagna! And when I say homemade I mean homemade. 3 1/2 hours homemade. Recipe to follow...
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
7-8 rhubarb stalks, rinsed
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinsed and stemmed (sliced if strawberries are larger than 1")
1 + 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
Slice the rhubarb in half lengthwise and cut on the diagonal into 3/4" chunks. Put 3/4 of the rhubarb in a large pot along with the 1 cup of brown sugar. Hold the rest of the rhubarb to the side for later.
Turn heat onto medium-low and stir to mix the sugar and rhubarb. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until the rhubarb starts to release most of it's juices.
Remove the cover, add in the strawberries and increase the heat to medium. Stir the sauce regularly for the next 15-17 minutes until it thickens up enough that your spoon can leave a trail at the bottom of the pan. Add the last of the rhubarb and balsamic vinegar and let cook just 1-2 minutes more. About now is when you should taste test to see if you'd like it sweeter; if so add the last 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
Pour the compote into a bowl to cool. This will be much more than you need for the scones recipe. The rest (roughly 2 cups) will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Scones
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces cold Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (or 4 ounces unsalted butter)
1/2 cup soy milk mixed with 1/2 Tablespoon vinegar (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tablespoons hot water (or 1 egg)
~1 cup Strawberry Rhubarb Compote (or store bought jam)
1-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, spray lightly with non-stick spray and set to the side.
Sift together all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut the "butter" into 1/2" pieces and add them to the dry mixture. Use your fingers to break the butter into the flour until it's the size of grains of rice to flattened peas. As Kim notes, the more quickly you do this, the more the "butter" will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe. I actually stuck my "butter" in the freezer for a bit so it was less likely to melt in the bowl.
In one small bowl mix the soy milk and vinegar, stir and let sit for ~10 minutes, in another combine the ground flax and HOT water and let sit for ~3 minutes so it can thicken up (see picture above...it really does have the same thick/emulsifying affects of an egg). Once they've set up, combine the two mixtures into one bowl, stir well, and then add to the dry mix. Mix the batter until all the ingredients are just barely combined.
Transfer the batter onto a well-floured surface. If it's too sticky to handle, add a little more flour until it's more workable. Divide the dough into two pieces. Flour your hands and pat each of the two pieces until they're 3/4" thick and approximately 7" in diameter. Make sure they aren't sticking to your work surface once you're done, otherwise you'll have some troubles moving the finished scones to the baking sheet!
Cover one disk with the compote and top with the second disk, gently pressing them together so that the dough settles into the jam. Sprinkle the top with sugar then use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 slices - just like a pie.
Move the scones to your baking sheet and bake for 22-26 minutes, making sure to rotate halfway through. You'll know when the scones are done because they're tops will be golden brown and some of the compote will bubble over onto the pan. Eat while they're still warm or later the same day for best taste.