I have been reading about Kim Boyce’s cookbook Good to the Grain for a few months now, and lo and behold, I got my very own copy for my birthday this past week. The concept behind these recipes is baking with whole grain flours not (only) for health reasons, but to enjoy the specific flavors each grain brings. I’m sold!
The first recipe I aimed to try was the one for scones with a layer of jam in them — perfect Saturday breakfast fare. Alas, my stop at the grocery store yesterday didn’t yield barley flour, only flakes, but if there’s anything I learned from living outside the US, it’s not to let a pesky lack of ingredients stop me from making something delicious. I bought the flakes with the intention to process them to a flour at home.
I made a few other changes to the recipe as written, mainly because, well, frankly I am lazy. Boyce directs you to cut up cold butter into small cubes and work them into the dry ingredients with your fingers. I grated the butter straight from the fridge into the dry ingredients and then rubbed it into the flours. I didn’t feel like opening two sticks of butter, so I just used 6 tablespoons in the scone dough itself, and reserved two to melt for the topping. I was perfectly satisfied with the richness so I don’t think you’ll miss the tiny bit of extra butter.
However, the scones did spread rather more than would be ideal and ended up rather thin, and I suspect that the coarseness of the ground barley flakes was an issue. Pulsing the flakes in our little food processor didn’t make a uniform, fine flour, and probably I should have compensated by adding a little extra measure. The scones were light and tender in any case, and I really liked the little extra texture the uneven grind of the barley added. Boyce says the dough will be sticky, and it was; I struggled a bit to get the unbaked scones onto the baking sheet. However, with a sheet of baking parchment under them, after baking they lifted off without a crumb left behind, even where the jam oozed out and made some tempting caramelized puddles. With a cup of coffee, these really were the ideal weekend breakfast.
Strawberry Barley Scones, adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
I used low-sugar strawberry jam from (where else) Trader Joe’s; Boyce includes a recipe for making your own jam, but that’s for another time.
Makes 8 scones
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs/150 g barley flour (add an extra tablespoonful if you grind your own flour from barley flakes)
- 1 cup/100 g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup/50 g brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt
- 8 Tbs (113 grams) cold butter, divided
- ½ cup/235 ml buttermilk
- 1 egg
- ½ cup/8 Tbs strawberry jam
- 1 Tbs granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/190° C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt, breaking up any lumps.
- Grate about 6 tbs of butter into the dry ingredients; melt the remaining 2 tbs and set aside to cool.
- Working quickly with your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture of small to medium lumps of butter well-coated with the flour. Do not overwork the mixture, you don’t want the butter to get too warm.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just combined. The dough will be sticky.
- Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Divide the dough in half, and pat one half into a circle about ¾” thick and 7″ across. Spread the jam across the top. Pat out the other half of the dough into a circle the same size (make sure there is plenty of flour on the work surface) and place it on top of the jam layer, pressing down slightly.
- Cut the dough into 8 wedges using a knife or bench scraper, and (very) carefully place them onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a good inch or so of space between them.
- Brush each wedge with the melted butter, and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are starting to brown.