Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pear, ginger and chocolate scones

I have a bit of a disastrous track record when it comes to sweet scones. Cheese scones, those I can do quite well, and have gone through a number of recipes to find my favourite. Which funnily enough doesn't contain butter at all, it's a vegetable oil based recipe. But it was my favourite out of several that I tried. And some day I'll get around to post it here. Although, truth be told, my absolute favourite cheese scone I have ever eaten is at our workplace cafeteria. Raisin scones there are nothing special, I have had much better ones at cafes and tearooms around the UK. But oh mine, those cheese scones. They are fluffy and big and absolutely beautiful. Although, it will remain a mystery to me why some days they are the fluffy and amazing things they are, and other days, they are just hard lumps of dough you could use to kill somebody. I can see no other explanation for this than two different bakers. But there doesn't seem to be any kind of pattern to which days you get the really great five star cheese scones and which days you get the hard lumps. Which was ok back in the day when I ate them every day, there were good days and bad days. But now, when I only have them once in a blue moon, I'm really disappointed if it's hard dry lumpy scone day on the day I have allowed myself the indulgence of all those extra calories and carbs.

But this post is not about cheese scones. This is about fruit scones, which I have had notoriously bad luck with. Last time I attempted a sweet scone, it turned into a horrible disaster. Of all days, it was my birthday, and I had decided to spoil myself with some berry scones for breakfast. I was making the batter according to the instructions, and despite it being a bit on the runny side, I got the scones made and into the oven. Ten minutes later I had a peek, and the scones had not changed colour at all, which I found strange. But this was the first time I was making the recipe, so I thought maybe it's just some weird thing with this recipe that it bakes really slowly. The scones had started to flatten in the oven, forming more of one giant scone flatbread instead of pretty individual scones. After another ten minutes I found it very odd that the scones still didn't look at all baked, and there was no smell of baking strawberry and blueberry scones in my flat. Well, after a while I figured out that I had only turned on the fan in the oven, but not the heat. A bit hard to cook scones in room temperature. When I finally figured this out, I didn't have individual scones left, but just one big flat scone. It was edible, but not particularly delicious. So I decided to stay away from fruit or berry scones in the future.

I'm still struggling with my overload of fruit from my grocery shopping order last week. Particularly, my pears are starting to look like they rather be used up now or not at all. And totally coincidentally (I swear!!!) I ran into this recipe from Smitten Kitchen on Pinterest. And if there is something in you kitchen which is about to go off, and you happen to just stumble upon a recipe which contains said ingredient, you are pretty much obligated by the baking gods to try it out. Especially if you have all the ingredients at home, which is very unusual for me. So no need for a visit to the grocery store, I could just get home from work and start baking. With the small added complication of actually having to go to the gym in between. 

I made some small alterations to the recipe, such as not roasting the pears before using them as they were starting to be rather ripe, and didn't need to get any softer in my opinion. Also, the original recipe didn't contain any ginger, but I just bought a pack of candied ginger, and couldn't wait to be able to try it out in a recipe. I also switched cream for skimmed milk, as I didn't have any cream at home.
Pear and chocolate scones (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, makes 6-8 scones):
190 g plain flour
50 g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (plus one optional egg for the egg wash)
1/4 cup milk
85 g butter in small cubes
50 g dark chocolate chips or chunks
3-4 big pieces of crystallised ginger
2 pears

One scone (1/8 of the recipe) contains 250 kcal (12 g fat, 32 g total carbs and 4 g protein).

The howto:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Chop the pears into small cubes. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt a bowl. Add egg, milk and butter, and mix using a electric or handheld mixer. Add chocolate, finely chopped ginger and pears and mix. The dough was so thick that I found it easiest to use my hands for mixing. Pat out on a sheet of parchment paper into a circle, and cut into six or eight wedges depending on the size of scones you want. Brush with egg wash if you want to (I couldn't be bothered...), and bake for about 20 minutes for smaller scones and 30 minutes for larger ones. 

The verdict:
I finally managed to make great scones!! I wasn't too hopeful when I had made the dough as it looked a bit strange, but they baked beautifully. I was assured by my culinary consultant that they were exactly as scones should be, crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. And he should know, he is British, and the Brits do love their scones. They didn't quite rise as much as I would have liked them to, but they were still quite fluffy.

The pear made the scones wonderfully moist and gave the scones great flavour. And the ginger went perfectly together with the pear. The chocolate was a nice addition, but to be perfectly honest, the pear and ginger alone would already have worked great. So if you don't have chocolate, don't worry and just go ahead with the pear and ginger. I was going to eat one scone when I was baking them, and save one for the next day. Good thing I gave the rest of the scones to my culinary consultant, as I know he will be able to eat them in a more responsible fashion, as I ended up eating three straight out of the oven. I just couldn't resist them. I guess my never ending weight loss project is officially on hold again. At least I did an hour at the gym before inhaling the scones. Now I'm trying to convince myself I really shouldn't bake anything else this week, but I have two over ripe bananas on the table. And everyone knows over ripe bananas only mean one thing... banana bread! 

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