Scone of the Month: Stopping to drop a maple-corn biscuit

It’s been colder than usual this winter. I’ll use that (or any) excuse to fire up the oven, morning, noon or night. The side benefits of baking are warming up the house (and spirit) and perfuming the air with something good. 

I came across a recipe in Elizabeth Alston’s “Biscuits and Scones,” (Clarkson N. Potter, Inc.; 1988) that had me considering woodsy winters and maple syrup gathering, cold mornings and warm biscuits (or scones) for breakfast. Vermont Maple-Corn Drop Biscuits sounded so good I even bought a bottle of pure maple syrup to make them.

Nothing could cheer me more one recent dark, cold morning (except for maybe some snow) than to hit the kitchen in the wee hours and stir up some flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in preparation for the biscuits to come.

I blended cold butter cubes into these dry ingredients, working up some warmth with the old pastry blender. Nothing like a little biscuit workout.

I often using the artificial pancake syrups (the light versions) for pancakes, waffles and French toast, I had forgotten about the sheer amber beauty and smooth, thin texture of real maple syrup. It blended nicely with the milk for the biscuits, and would likely lend them great flavor and just a touch of sweetness (only a quarter cup is used).

The liquids mixed with the dry ingredients and butter, via a fork, formed a lovely soft, golden dough.

The beauty of this recipe is that these are “drop” biscuits, free of any rolling or cutting. I used my large ice cream scoop to form even mounds on the baking sheet.

The biscuits blossomed while baking into puffy rounds with crusty edges. After a little cooling they were ready for eating.

These were perfect for breakfast (I took Alston’s recommendation that they were “excellent with bacon or ham,” and I indulged fully, with some butter and a little drizzle of the delicious maple syrup. The biscuits had a bit of crunch from the cornmeal, but were perfectly light and tender and just sweet enough, but not too much, so that they made a nice bread accompaniment for a pot of beans later on.

Vermont Maple-Corn Drop Biscuits

From “Biscuits and Scones” by Elizabeth Alston (Clarkson N. Potter; 1988)

Makes 8 biscuits

  • 1 cup coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple or maple-flavor syrup

Milk

  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up

Heat oven to 425°. Put cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir to mix well.

Measure maple syrup in a glass cup measure. Add milk to 2/3 cup mark.

Add butter to flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until mixture looks like fine granules.

Add the milk mixture and a stir with a fork until a very soft dough forms.

Drop 1/4 cupfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto an uncreased cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until pale golden brown. Cool, loosely covered with a dish towel, on a wire rack.

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