Bread of the Month: Marking 150 posts with gingerbread scones

When this post is completed, it will be my 150th for “A Woman Sconed.” But, who’s counting? Just me. That’s kind of the point of a blog, or, at least my blog. This space has been mine to dwell in, mine to decide in, mine to create in, mine to fail in, mine to mine in. If it sounds self-absorbed, it kind of is, but I think in a good way. In a world where everyone is ready to tell you no, dismiss you, criticize you, mock you, it’s nice that the blogosphere provides a place where you can say yes to yourself.

It wasn’t that long ago that it seemed the opportunities to create and write had somewhat dried up for me. This was my perception, but it probably wasn’t the reality. So I headed toward jobs where there seemed to be more of a need. Certainly, there is no need for another writer! Or blogger! Or food blogger! Still, the urge to write, to bake and to create called. It called to me, and I decided I would not deny it. My space on “A Woman Sconed” is about the very heart of what I love. I could have given up on it or let it go….other things were “more important” and I was “too busy” a lot of the time. But I stood by it, and it stood by me.

It’s not the most beautiful food blog out there, by any means, nor the most polished and professional. But one of the beautiful things about my blog is that I don’t spend a lot of time comparing mine to others or try to make mine like anyone else’s. I wanted to make attractive, delicious goodies and record how that went, and I really wanted it to be was about the writing. It is about food, but sometimes more. Stories. So each post would be a story from beginning to end, small essays or columns. Sometimes this succeeded; many times it did not. Sometimes the writing was good, sometimes not. The point is, I tried, and in the trying, the effort, the hope, I have been helped in the doing along the way.

I’ve gotten a lot out of doing this blog, but has anyone else? At times, it has felt like a labor of love produced in a quiet, empty echoing tunnel. I did not really know if anyone read it, save folks who know me. Then one day, I got an e-mail out of the blue from someone who had read my blog and wanted to offer me a — gasp — writing gig! At first, I thought someone was playing a joke on me. How in the world did an obscure food blog lead to that? Even the editor who contacted me was not sure how she found “A Woman Sconed,” but the kismet provided me another avenue to the road I had nearly abandoned some time ago. So I became the food columnist for Kansas Country Living, and my gratitude for this experience grows each month when they publish another of my columns about food and home.

This blog has been a home for me and has made my home what it is, a messy place of recipes and stacks of cookbooks and printed pages, spilled flour and sugar, a refrigerator full of butter and a freezer full of nuts, a pantry full of dried fruits and extracts, too many baking implements and pans that clatter to the floor at random moments when cupboard doors are opened. My blog is the messy place that produces joy…and many dirty dishes.

Many baked goods are worth dirtying dishes for, including the Gingerbread Scones I chose to honor my 150th blog post. I came to these because a) they are scones; b) they seem appropriately seasonal as we are on the brink of holiday times, and c) I kept smelling gingerbread in my house (which could have merely been the spirit gum adhesive I used for my Halloween getup).

Whatever the case, I was eager to make these scones, which my friend and baker extraordinaire, Elaine, had made and brought to work to share. Genius that she is, she took this recipe from “Simply Scones: Quick and Easy Recipes for More Than 70 Delicious Scones and Spreads” by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright (1988) and enhanced it by adding chopped crystallized ginger and topping with crunchy sanding sugar.

The scones are full of all those warm winter spices — cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. I took a little liberty here and added a pinch of King Arthur Flour’s Yuletide Cheer Spice, which is primarily nutmeg, but has a whiff of dried orange peel, too. And who couldn’t use Yuletide Cheer, whatever the season?

The soft dough pats easily into a circle that is cut into wedges, pre-baking. Scones are so easy, really, why don’t I make them more? And why don’t YOU bake them? If you never have, you must!

I brushed the tops with cream and sprinkled that crunchy sugar for a sweet finish And soon, the scones filled the house with gingerbread, just as they had in my spirit gum premonition…a lesson here to follow your nose or whatever calls to you…

I whipped up some cinnamon butter to go with (an easy mix of softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon). And they are delicious, all the yum of gingerbread, only sconier. I do believe Miss Elaine’s are better, but things are always better when someone else makes them.

Gingerbread Scones
From “Simply Scones: Quick and Easy Recipes for More Than 70 Delicious Scones and Spreads” by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright (1988)
Makes 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1 large egg
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch circle in the center of a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour,, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. 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 egg, molasses, milk and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the raisins, if desired.

With lightly floured hands, pat the dough int an 8-inch circle in the center of the prepared baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut into 8 wedges. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester or a toothpick inserted int eh center 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.

Blogger’s Note: I added about 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger in final mixing, and brushed the tops with cream and sprinkled sanding sugar before baking. I found I had to bake these a little closer to 30 minutes.

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