Monday, May 08, 2023

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Berry Scones

scone after a trip through the toaster oven
While I wasn't going to get myself out of bed at 5am to watch the coronation of King Charles III, I did think it would be nice to recognize the occasion with a batch of scones. Scones, like biscuits, can be made with butter and cream, or with cream alone. Being lactose intolerant and somewhat lazy, not wanting to get my hands all buttery, I opted to make cream scones using only coconut milk. And because a large bag of gluten-free flour had been staring at me from the pantry for a few months, I thought I'd use that, too. 

Cream scones are easy-peasy, and using gf flour means there's no way to eff them up by overworking the gluten in the dough. I still remember the very first scones I baked. My family had recently come back from a trip to England, where we had devoured many of the clotted-cream-and-jam-smeared, currant-studded, biscuit-like baked goods that often came with a pot of tea. We were a little obsessed, but found there were few places to purchase scones in Baltimore in the mid-1970s. That problem could be solved if we made our own, which we attempted with a recipe sourced from who-knows-where. Clearly my mother and I had overworked the dough, as the resulting objects--though pretty and pleasantly-scented--would more aptly be called "stones." They all went into the trash except for one, which we deposited into a lidded container and shelved as an experiment. Occasionally we'd take off the lid and poke at the stone to see if it had gotten any harder. It appeared to have reached maximum rigidity during baking, because it remained the same texture during its entire tenure in our house. We kept it around for a number of years before tossing it out, though it still smelled fine and never got moldy. 

Anyhoo...Mom and I were wary of attempting scones after that, though at some point I discovered that they could be made with very little handling. Gentle patting is really all that's required; drop scones are even more stupid-simple. 

scones immediately after baking
I briefly considered making drop scones on this occasion, but the dough produced with coconut milk and gf flour proved very sticky. A test drop produced something that resembled an albino hedgehog more than a baked good. I had a hard time scraping the dough off the spoon and my fingers; attempting to do so formed little spikes all over the sad blob on the baking sheet. After I plopped the hedgehog back in with the rest of the dough, I thought a short stay in the fridge would firm up the dough a bit. It works with cookie dough, so why not give it a try? About half an hour later, the dough was firm enough to divide into two blobby balls and pat into disks. I dampened my hands a bit before patting them down, which left enough moisture to help the gold-colored coarse sugar I sprinkled on top to adhere. 

Because I chose not to brush the tops with cream, the scones didn't brown very much. I think this is also a result of the gluten free flour. Again, I was lazy and didn't want to have to wash a pastry brush (we don't have a dishwasher). They scones did brown very nicely after a trip to the toaster oven, which I recommend, particularly if you are eating them the day after baking, as we did. The texture of gluten free flour is not the same as of wheat flour. It doesn't have the same springy crumb, and it's also a little, hmm...mushy? Easily squished? I am hard pressed to describe the interior texture accurately. This is why I chose to add almond meal to give the scones a tiny bit more interest. 

Overall, I think these scones were pretty successful. They were simple to make, and delicious with a smear of vegan butter and a dollop of lemon curd. If you try them, please let me know in a comment.

No-Gluten No-Dairy Berry Scones

1 cup canned coconut milk (don't use the "lite" stuff)
1 1/2 cups gluten-free 1-for-1 (cup for cup) flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, or a mix
grated rind of 1 lemon or half an orange, optional but tasty
1 tsp vanilla
Sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 425F.

Shake the can of coconut milk well, to mix in the cream. (If you don't shake it, you'll find a layer of coconut "cream" on top of a thinner liquid.)

Combine the dry ingredients, including the dried fruit, in a large bowl. Add the citrus rind, if using. Stir in most of the coconut milk to form a somewhat sticky dough. If the dough seems dry, add the rest of the milk. If it seems too sticky/wet, add a little more flour. With damp hands, form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into two equal balls. Place them side-by-side on a large, parchment-lined, baking sheet. Using your hand, flatten each ball into a disk about 1-inch thick. Cut each disk into four wedges and pull them apart from each other. 

Bake at 425F for 20-22 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. (They won't get very dark.) Allow to cool to room temperature before serving with butter-like spread of your choice, jam, and lemon curd. 

Makes 8 scones.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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