Scone of the Month: Grating a great carrot recipe

As I move scone-ward through the year, I try to look at seasonal flavors when testing out a variety of monthly scone recipes. The tastes of fall run into spices, nuts, earthy and orange-y colors, apples and pumpkins, and yes, carrots!

I’m a huge carrot cake fan, and while this classic dessert can be (and is) served and eaten all year long, there’s something about the richness, spice and orange of this treat that tends to make it a favorite into the fall.

I had stumbled across a recipe for Carrot Nut Scones in a delightful little book full of great scone recipes, “Simply Scones” by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright (1988), which is a favorite by my friend and baker extraordinaire, Elaine, who has shared a number of scones she has baked from the book.

I knew that sometime during my year of scone-baking, I wanted to make the Carrot Nut Scones (and actually a number of others of the recipes, so many that I wouldn’t get to them all this year), and I thought about it in the spring, when carrots are a focus, but it also felt like fall was right, too. Earthy root vegetables have their place this time of year, too, and considering the scones were slightly spiced and featured rich pecans, I voted to make them this month. A whole cup of bright orange, crispy-sweet carrots is grated for this recipe.

Dry ingredients (in my case white flour, a little wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg) are blended with 1/4 cup cold butter cubes until grainy looking and evenly distributed.

Plain yogurt is whisked with one egg and a teaspoon of vanilla, then this mixture is stirred into the flour mixture until just incorporated.

The recipe calls for golden raisins, but I’m not a big fan of these (something about the taste), so I opted for some dried pineapple chunks, considering I blend fresh pineapple into my favorite carrot cake. The carrots, pineapple and pecans are blended into the scone dough.

The dough is slightly crumbly, slightly sticky. Scone dough, like pie pastry, is often shaggy and seemingly too chunky to bring together at this point, but like pie pastry, a brief bit of gathering pulls it all together.

The scone dough is shaped into an 8 to 8-1/2 inch circle, which I placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Many of the scones in this book have the shaping and baking method of leaving the scones in a large circle that has been cut into wedges, but not divided and separated before baking. I often think this is a really smart way to make scones, as they hold their wedge shape a little better by staying in a huddle.

I took it upon myself to add a little embellishment of a sprinkling of sparkling sanding sugar and a large pecan half to the top of each scone (a little toasted pecan on the top couldn’t hurt).

The scones baked up to a lovely golden brown in about 20 minutes (you use a cake tester to determine doneness). After a brief cooling on the baking sheet, the scone circle has additional cooling time on a wire rack.

While the scones were cooling, I concocted a cream cheese spread. Cream cheese seemed a natural for a carrot scone, and I preferred not to do a glaze with this particular recipe. The spread was a simple blend of 4 ounces of cream cheese and two tablespoons of butter, softened at room temperature, a pinch of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of raw honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, and about 1/4 chopped dates.

The deep golden scones were very tender and moist, and the taste, though subtle, was one of the best-flavored scones I’ve ever made. Soft flavored, rich with buttery pecans, the scones reminded me of something from my past, a crumbling snacking cake crunchy with nuts, almost juicy with rich sweetness and the taste of fall. The tangy cream cheese spread made the perfect accompaniment (as any carrot baked good should be topped). They went fast! And would come ‘round again soon…

Carrot Nut Scones

From “Simply Scones” by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright (1988)

Makes 8 Scones

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup honey crunch wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground mace
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch circle in the center of a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, egg and vanilla. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the carrots, raisins and pecans. The dough will be sticky.

Spread the dough in an 8 1/2-inch circle in the center of the prepared baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut into 8 wedges. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the scones comes out clean.

Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the scones to the wire rack to cool. Recut into wedges, if necessary. Serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let the scones reach room temperature or warm slightly before serving. These scones freeze well.

Blogger’s Note: I substituted slightly less than a 1/4 cup whole wheat flour for the wheat germ and used nutmeg instead of mace. I also used chopped dried pineapple instead of golden raisins. 

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