Today, I had tea with my most beloved of GoddessMothers. We talked, as usual, about love, family, hopes, dreams, secrets, spirit, happiness, joy … well, life in general. As we sat and chatted, laughed and cried, reconnected and restrengthened, we nibbled on these rather luscious orange vanilla scones. They were pretty damn good if I might say so myself (I am munching on one, as I type this, sandwiching some cheddar cheese and damson jam).
The thing is, my GoddessMother just found out she has a gluten intolerance. Basically, she cannot eat anything with wheat in it, or she becomes ill. My friend S also has the same issue, and so I am aware of the need to adapt and adjust recipes for gluten-intolerance. My GoddessMother was coming for tea, which immediately suggested scones… but gluten-free scones? I had this image of hard little rocks of wedgy dough tasting strangely of fake flour… Not an appetising look!
I went out and got some gluten-free flour (mainly maize and tapioca in my mix) – and you need to check ingredients. The flour needs to have some sort of xanthan gum or vegetable gum in it – this helps the softness and stretchiness of the dough. Without it, you should add about 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, which you can get at any good healthfood shop. Because the scent and texture of gluten-free flour is so different, I decided to really layer on the flavour – the grated rind of an orange for a bit of brightness, and a tablespoon of vanilla and honey each for some voluptuousness! You could scent it with just about any flavouring you like, but this combination made uniquely delectable sweet scones.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when making these scones. First and foremost, preheat the oven before you start mixing all the ingredients. From the time when you add the (cold) butter to the time the scones go into the oven, should be no more than 10 minutes or so. Work quickly and gently, and keep the integrity of the cold butter intact if you can. I added about 4 tsp of baking powder to the mix because I was going for slightly nubbly crumbly (but still tender and gentle) scones – if you want them fluffier, add 2 tsp more! And when you work with gluten-free flour, add a few tablespoons of milk powder. This adds to the lusciousness of the dough, but also adds to the depth of flavour of the scones.
Makes about 18 scones
- 3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
- 3 tbsp milk powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- Grated peel of 1 (washed) orange
- 12 tbsp cold butter
- 4 – 6 tsp baking powder (the more baking powder, the fluffier)
- Liquid of up to 10 fl oz (about 1 1/4 cup) which should include: 1 egg, a few tablespoons sour cream and/or yogurt, a few tablespoons of cream (if you like), 1 tbsp liquid honey, and the rest whole milk
- 1 tbsp (or to taste) vanilla
- 1 tbsp milk + 1 egg for glaze
Preheat your oven to 215C (425F), and line a jelly roll tin or baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, milk powder, salt, and light brown sugar. Mix together gently with a fork. Using a superfine grater, grate the peel of a washed orange into the bowl, and mix together again.
Using a large hole grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture and stir lightly to combine and coat the butter with the flour mixture. You will have an oatmealy texture, and everything should smell brightly of orange.
Add baking powder, and mix again lightly.
In a large measuring jug, mix together the egg, a tablespoon each sour cream and yogurt, the honey, and make up to 10 fl oz (approximately 1 1/4 cup) with milk. Whisk this together with a fork to ensure everything is combined.
Add the vanilla (either as essence, paste or vanilla bean scraped) to the liquid mixture and whisk to combine again. Pour over the flour, and using your hands, quickly mix and knead the mixture into a soft pliable dough. Allow to rest, for about 3 minutes, in a cool place (even your fridge). This will allow the gluten-free flour to really come into its own, and makes it much easier to cut out the scones.
Flour (with gluten-free!) a working surface, and turn the dough out onto the surface. It should feel very tender and soft. If you think it needs more flour, add by a tablespoon at a time. Pat out into a 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle, and cut out scones, and place on prepared baking pan. Lightly glaze with milk, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn the pan. Before putting it back in, however, glaze again with egg. This will really encourage browning without burning. Bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the scones have risen, and baked through.
Cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to serving plate. Wonderful with cream and damson jam, with tomato marmalade and cheese, or buttered, hot from the oven. Delicious! Enjoy.