At long last I return to this small space on the world wide web. It’s been a nice break, and I needed it to find my balance after radically changing how I eat as a result of following the autoimmune paleo protocol. With the experience of three very different food jobs in three very different kitchens behind me, I’ve also realized that I like working best at a slow and meditative pace, alone, in the relative quiet of home. Of course there is the clanking of pans, the stirring of whisks, the sliding of drawers, and on and on, but it’s orchestrated by me and is a kind of music to the ears, a background to occasional moments of inspiration. Our dog, Hiro, keeps watch while perched on the couch where he can see me, when he’s not sleeping, as I’m working in the kitchen. He is not a fan of the music I make.
I’ve started baking again, experimenting with grain-free flours such as cassava, butternut squash, and arrowroot, among others, as well as more natural sugars like coconut, maple, and honey. These scones are the result of many half-batches of tweaking this and then that, and then trying something even more challenging by making them AIP-compliant, with an amazing result on the first try. Sometimes inspiration strikes, but not without laying a lot of groundwork.
Even though I’ve made a lot of yeast breads and scones and quick breads, eliminating grains and other things that my body doesn’t respond well to anymore requires a little re-education in the approach to baking. But the miracle of food is that it is highly adaptable, in ways you might not have imagined, until you needed to imagine it. And that’s a great comfort for those of us who find ourselves in this uncompromising place of choosing health over eating those foods, wonderful as they may be, that compromise it.
Those are all things worthy of future discussion, and I will do my best to do that here.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on these butternut squash scones, but don’t wait too long to pull out your bowls and spoons and pans, and spend a few contemplative moments crafting them, and of course, eating them.
- 75 g / 2-5/8 oz / ½ cup + 2 tablespoons cassava flour
- 75 g / 2-5/8 oz / ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons butternut squash flour
- 60 g / 2-1/8 oz / ½ cup arrowroot flour
- 36 g / 1-1/4 oz / 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 28 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup coconut oil, chilled in refrigerator until solid
- zest of ½ medium lemon
- 40 g / 1-1/2 oz. / rounded ⅓ cup Granny Smith or other green apple, peeled and cut into approx. ½-inch-sized pieces
- 177 ml / 6 fl. oz. / ½ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk, plus another 2 tablespoons for brushing wedges
- Measure the coconut oil and put in refrigerator to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 450F (230C), and make sure the upper rack that will hold the scones is placed in the middle position in the oven.
- Stack two half-size (18-inch x 13-inch) baking sheets together (to prevent the scones from burning on the bottom), and line the top baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Assemble your ingredients so it's easy to move from one step to the next.
- Weigh or measure flours, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Whisk until blended. Scoop chilled coconut oil into flour mixture, and break into a few chunks. Using your fingers, work the chunks into the flour mixture until the flour resembles very coarse sand.
- Zest the lemon peel over the bowl, and mix in lightly with your hands.
- Mix the apple chunks in throughout the flour mixture with your hands.
- Pour the coconut milk evenly over the flour. Stir with a large spoon until it begins to form into a ball. Dough should be well-moistened throughout.
- Scoop dough onto surface floured with some arrowroot flour, and dust the top of the dough with some arrowroot flour as well. Press dough into about a 6-inch round, just under an inch thick. Cut the round into four equal wedges, and separate.
- Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut milk over the top and sides of each wedge using a pastry brush.
- IMPORTANT: Just before you put the scones in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 425F (220C).
- Place the scones on the stacked baking sheets, a few inches apart, and place in the oven on the middle rack.
- Bake for 10 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and bake for another 10 minutes until scones are cracked on top and browned.
- Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and transfer to a cooling rack.
a. Aerate the flour. Use a spoon to stir and lift the flour in its container so it isn't densely packed down.
b. Use the spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup, overfilling it so the top is rounded.
c. Level the rounded top with the flat side of a knife.
• Bring the coconut milk to room temperature before using. This helps it absorb better into the flour as it becomes less thick as it warms up. I use homemade coconut milk. If using canned coconut milk, use a brand without any thickeners such as guar gum or xanthan gum in the ingredients list.
• If you have a problem with the cornstarch in store-bought baking powder, you can make your own cornstarch-free version. Just mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, and store in an airtight container. Use within 2-4 weeks.