This gluten-free fruit scone is my husband’s all-time favorite scone, beating out any scone I used to make with gluten-based flours. You can use just about any fruit you like that will work in a baked recipe, such as berries, stone fruits or tree fruits, and the scone itself is tender and full of flavor. It works beautifully with either almond or tigernut flour, the choice depending on if you can eat nut-based flours like almond flour or need a nut-free option like tigernut flour, which is actually a tuber and not a nut, despite the confusing name.
There are certain things I’ve eaten in my life that have lingered long in my food memory. One such thing was a perfect piece of toast: bread, slightly crispy, spread with butter and grape jelly immediately after toasting, the timing being critical to making those two things meld into one for the perfect delivery of buttery and sweet. I was probably nine or ten years old; our families had settled for the week in a caravan of truck-mounted campers along the beach in Mexico, and my friend Pam and I sat in aluminum folding chairs, facing the ocean and eating our breakfast. I can still taste that piece of toast in my mind, and for me it is exactly what toast should be like.
About seven months ago, I finally cultivated my own sourdough starter. While this might sound either impressive or difficult, it’s really neither, and if you love to bake bread you really should try it. Why? Because using a sourdough starter in baking bread is the single best way to add complexity and depth to its flavor. The amount of sourdough starter you use in making bread determines how subtly sour or strongly tangy it tastes. In addition, the sourdough starter pre-digests the wheat flour(1), making the vitamins and minerals it contains more available for nourishment, and the bread easier to digest when you eat it. The starter also gives the bread a longer shelf life.
Whenever I rub my dog Hiro’s ears, he slowly collapses onto the floor. I call it a puppy melt, and it’s a sure sign of complete momentary pleasure. I feel the same way when I eat freshly made bread, and with these sage brown butter rolls you might just melt too. To make the rolls I use the whole wheat cast iron bread recipe as a base, and then I add minced fresh sage seared in butter that’s been browned. There’s an excellent tutorial on how to brown butter on Elise Bauer’s Simply Recipes site, and it’s worth reading so you know the difference between just melted, browned, or burnt. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the butter technique, it’s simply a matter of adding everything together for a swoon-worthy little roll.
When I was growing up in Arizona, we’d occasionally go to a fair that had Indian exhibits with jewelry and blankets and pottery and other beautiful artisan objects. As a kid, what I remember looking forward to when visiting the fairs was Indian fry bread, a soft square or rectangular pillow of bread, fried in oil until it puffed, and then usually drizzled with honey. It’s a close relative of the sopapilla, and everyone makes it just a little differently-some versions are denser, more bread-like, and some are lighter and more puffy. All versions are fried in oil, and this is where I digress.
When I finally got my copy of Michael Ruhlman‘s latest cookbook Ruhlman’s Twenty, the first recipe I made was this beautiful cast iron bread. It is now my go-to bread recipe, producing a round loaf with a tender crumb, a chewy exterior, and excellent volume. This loaf also has a lightness you don’t expect from 100% whole wheat bread. With only five ingredients (seven for my adapted version), the recipe is simplicity in edible form, and makes, as my husband says, an “amazingly good” bread.
I love the creative act of baking bread, and I’m on a mission to achieve the perfect artisan-style, 100% whole wheat hearth bread. In his book Tartine Bread, author and chef Chad Robertson refers to this hearth bread type as “integral,” meaning it is made from 100% whole-grain flour. To gain experience in making breads with that distinctive open crumb, silken inner texture and chewy outer crust, Robertson suggests starting first with his basic country loaf, made from 90% white flour and 10% whole wheat flour. Making the bread also requires developing your own wild yeast culture, which then becomes your starter, and eventually is used as the leaven for the bread. I’ve made two attempts at creating my own wild yeast starter. So far I’ve not succeeded, but I’m not giving up. As Robertson says in his book, “it’s absolutely worth the trouble to get there.”
About a year or so ago I decided to try my hand at homemade bread. The first yeast bread recipe I made was the “Oatmeal Sandwich Bread” from Good To The Grain by Kim Boyce. It couldn’t have been a better choice for a beginner like me. I followed the recipe to the letter and produced a beautiful loaf with great structure, crumb and flavor. That initial success opened a whole world of baking bread for me, and I’ve explored it with fervency. Since then, I’ve made my own whole wheat english muffins, tortillas, hamburger buns, and multi-grain bread.
I think I’ve achieved a perfect whole wheat hamburger bun. I’m not bragging, because I certainly didn’t get there by myself. I mean, I did bake it myself, but I had the benefit of a good recipe as well as methods from bakers who have spent many hours of their lifetime figuring out what works. In that sense, it was a successful collaboration, with a little experimentation on my part. And my third attempt was the charm.
Sometimes it’s important to remember to just slow down and enjoy the process. The simple act of preparing food can become a meditative experience as you carefully craft each step, taking in the fragrance and freshness of food made with your own hands. Besides, if you nervously rush through, you’re likely to forget things. I discovered this as I was experimenting with a second batch of these muffins and forgot two of the essential flavor makers, ground cardamom and orange zest.