Fresh Flour Makes a Great Scone
Nothing makes a snowed-in morning feel cozier than a batch of scones, still warm from the oven. Scones are so simple, simple enough that little shifts in technique and ingredients can make the difference between a decent scone and one that makes you stop and pay attention. To make my scones the best, I choose freshly milled flours. These Tender Scones with Currants and Orange Zest are made with freshly ground, locally grown Baker’s Field Flour and Bread flour. I also often grind my own flour, in either a mill or my trusty Vitamix.
You Grind Pepper, Why Not Flour?
There was a time when everyone bought pre-ground black pepper, filled a pepper shaker, and put it on a table to sit for months on end. That pepper lost most of its flavor long before anybody sprinkled it on their mac and cheese. The culprit was oxidation. All the volatile oils and nuanced taste and aroma either dissipated or went rancid, leaving the pepper stale and flat. It’s the same thing with coffee beans, and yes, flour.
Did you know that in industrial flour milling, every kernel of wheat has the germ and bran removed, so that the creamy white endosperm can be ground to make white flour? Whole wheat flour is then made by adding some of the ground germ and bran back into the white flour. It’s called fractionating.
There’s a revolution brewing, with stone millers opening up shop and spreading the word about a better process, and the superiority of freshly milled flour. Baker’s Filed Flour and Bread is one of the new breed of millers, sourcing grain from close by, and grinding flour to bake bread the same day.
Stone Ground flour is best
In stone grinding, a kernel of wheat is crushed and mixed with all the components that were held separate in the berry. The germ and bran contain most of the nutrients and the healthy fats of the grain. Because the stones don’t heat the grain as it grinds, the oils don’t start to cook and degrade in the flour. In the milling process, the nutrients and oils are spread over all the particles, even the endosperm that would be used to make white flour. When a miller like Baker’s Field makes flour, they can grind a whole grain, then use a sifter to remove the chunks of bran and germ, producing an all-purpose flour that is more healthful and flavorful.
If you try Baker’s Field freshly milled all-purpose flour, you’ll notice that the flour seems almost clumpy, and when squeeze it in your hand the flour holds a soft shape when you let it go. That’s fresh flour, with natural oils and moisture intact.
The whole wheat flour, whether from a stone miller or from your own mill or blender, will also have a less powdery texture. It will also have a brighter, more interesting flavor. You’ll be amazed.
Start tasting flour!
For this scone recipe, I started with a scone recipe on the Baker’s Field website, but made it vegan for my plant-based readers. Instead of butter, I used Melt solid spread, and instead of cream and half and half, I used an almond milk creamer, and used less. I zazzed it up a bit with orange zest and currants in one version, and did another batch with raisins, cut into butterfly shapes with a cookie cutter. Both gave the flours a chance to shine.
Try a comparison of fresh flour and old flour
If you don’t think flour makes a difference, make a half batch with grocery store flour and half with freshly ground. Then compare. If you can’t taste any difference, you don’t have to listen to me. But if you do, you are on the way to becoming a flour conoisseur. Even if you don’t care about the taste, fresh food is better for you.
Baker’s Field Flour and Bread sells their flours in Coops around the Minneapolis area. If you live in another state, it’s worth doing a google search to see if somebody is doing small batch milling in your area. You can buy a grain mill, too, I’m told that the Mock Mill is one of the best.
Once you sink your teeth into a meltingly tender, tasty scone made with fresh flour, you won’t want to go back.
(If you made it this far, you might be interested in taking a class from Steve Horton, the miller and baker behind Baker’s Field, or from me, on how to make great scones with fresh flour. Both will be auctioned off for a great cause at the Minnesota Les Dames D’Escoffier Dame It benefit on March 31st. Click here for tickets!)
Tender Scones with Currants and Orange Zest
- 240 grams all-purpose flour about 2 cups
- 240 grams whole wheat flour about 1 1/2 cups
- 1/3 cup organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or Melt Spread chilled
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups almond creamer plain, plus more for brushing
- 1 cup currants or raisins
- Turbinado sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk to mix. Use a grater to shred the oil or spread into the flour mixture, tossing to coat. Add the orange zest and creamer and stir just until almost mixed, then add dried fruit and gently mix until all the flour is incorporated.
- Spread a little flour on the counter top and scrape the dough out onto the flour. Pat the dough to 1 inch thick and use a 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut rounds. Transfer each to the baking sheets. Pat the scraps together and form with the biscuit cutter, place on the baking sheet.
- Brush the tops with enough creamer to moisten, then sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the scones are firm when pressed. Transfer scones to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.