Whole Wheat Scones

Recently, I have been on a scone making kick. It started by trying the butter scone recipe from "Advanced Bread and Pastry" but has since progressed to an experiment to make a whole wheat lower fat scone. It started by taking the suggestion in Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for More Food" to substitute some whole wheat flour for the white flour in biscuits. Given that a butter scone is nothing but a fancy biscuit, I applied that principle by substituting a quarter of the white flour in the original recipe with whole wheat flour. I also used his method of kneading to make this version. His method results in a folding of the butter which causes a nice layering of the product when baked.

To lighten it up further, I used the USDA food database so I could calculate the amount skim milk to replace the cream in the original recipe, while keeping the moisture content constant. In the end, I did add just a touch more skim milk but I attribute that to the higher hydration needs of the whole wheat flour. So, here goes...

Whole Wheat Scones

Fat Works

11.15 oz all purpose flour
3 oz whole wheat flour
1.75 oz granulated sugar
0.75 oz baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz (one stick) unsalted butter (chilled)


5 oz chopped dates + 1 oz chopped candied ginger + 1 tsp lemon zest
5 oz chopped dried apricots + 1 oz chopped candied ginger + 1/4 tsp allspice
5 oz dried cranberries + 1 tsp orange zest

Wet Works

5.8 oz skim milk
1 oz honey
1 large egg

30 minutes before starting, place 1 stick of butter in the freezer and make room in the freezer for a large mixing bowl. Before starting also prepare any additions that need chopping. The dates or apricots should be in approximately 3/8" pieces and the ginger should be smaller than 1/8". Cranberries can be used as is.

Begin by combining the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and any additions in the bowl that you made space for in the freezer. Mix until uniform. Taking a coarse cheese grater, quickly grate the chilled butter into the bowl and then using your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter should break down into something the size of peas. Place the bowl in the freezer while you prepare the remainder of the process.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. While the fat works are cooling, combine the wet works in a separate bowl and whisk together until uniform.

On a work surface, place two 36" pieces of wax paper in the shape of a cross. If you have a silicone baking mat, place that under the wax paper to help with the kneading process later. The mat is optional but one just has to be a little careful not to poke the wax paper without it. The pictures below give a sense of the process that is coming up.

When the oven is pre-heated. Take the fat works out of the freezer and mix in the wet works with a stiff spoon. The mixture will still be fairly dry but will finally come together as we knead it. Lightly dust the area where the two pieces of wax paper cross with flour and then pour out the mixture. Using your hands, form the mixture into a square as in Picture A above.

Being the kneading process by taking the paper or silcone mat and using it to fold about 1/3 of the dough onto itself much like one would fold a letter (Picture B). When you are done, you should get something like Picture C. Repeat the process from the other side and you should get something like Picture D.

As Alton points out, this method allows you to knead the dough without heating up the butter with your hands. It also avoids all manner of dough sticking to your hands. Using the wax paper and your hands, flatten the dough out to about 3/4" thick and rotate the whole assembly by 90 degrees. When done, it should like like Picture E below.

Repeat the process again as Picture F illustrates. After the second set of folds, rotate 90 degrees again and slide the bottom piece of wax paper out and place it on top of the dough as in Picture G. Carefully flip the assembly over and separate the piece of wax paper that was previously on the bottom from the top of the dough.

Perform the folding process one last time and the end result should look like Picture H. Placing wax paper on top, flatten the dough one last time to a rectangle approximatly 7" by 9" and about 3/4" thick. Using a dough scraper, divide into 12 pieces as pictured in Picture I. Using the dough scraper to carefully separate the dough from the wax paper, transfer the unbaked scones to the parchment covered cookie sheet.

Bake for 13 minutes at 375 degrees and then rotate. Bake for approximatly 13 minutes longer until the scones take on a little color and the bottoms are well browned. Let cook for 20 minutes before eating.

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