I'm beside myself with excitement to have my mama here with me this week! She lives too far away. Well, she would argue that it is I who lives too far away. Either way. There's a whole entire big fat country between us most of the time, so when we're together, I cherish every moment.
We've been having lots of fun meandering along the seawall, eating, poking through shops, lingering over a glass of wine and playing with art supplies.
Tomorrow, my sister arrives and we're all going WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING! Can't tell you the level of simultaneous excitement and panic this instills in me...
Isn't she beautiful?
This morning I made my mama some orange almond scones. I had some almond meal left over from this sour cherry almond torte. I was so thrilled with how well it worked in cake that I decided to use it in scones.
I think I have a new obsession. The almond meal (also known as almond flour, or simply ground almonds) adds a bit of texture, a gorgeous flavour, and a welcome richness. I've had success replacing one third of flour in many recipes with it. In doing so, you are almost guaranteed a lovely soft crumb due to the fact that it has no gluten.
Gluten is the muscle of flour; it is developed from proteins when a dough is manipulated - which is why recipes for tender baked goods like muffins, pancakes, scones and cakes encourage you not to over work the dough. If you do, the gluten that is developed will result in toughness. Almond meal adds tenderness to baked goods, and to my surprise, doesn't weigh them down.
Almond pancakes will be next, I think!
In this recipe I use my favourite method for incorporating butter into pastries like scones, biscuits and pie doughs. I freeze the block of butter, and grate it directly into the dry ingredients. I place the bowl with the flour mixture on top of a kitchen scale so that I get exactly the right amount of butter shavings. Toss it all together with a fork and voila - perfectly distributed pockets of butter that melt in the oven to create steam, creating rise and flakiness. Yum.
Orange Almond Scones
Serve with jam and whipped cream or creme fraiche.
3/4 cup almond meal (also known as almond flour or simply ground almonds)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz) frozen butter, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp finely grated orange zest (from 1 small-medium orange)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond meal, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Use a fork to toss in the grated, frozen butter.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, almond extract and orange zest. Add to dry ingredients and use fork to gently combine. As soon as it comes together as a shaggy dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead a few times until dough comes together in a ball. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimless baking sheet.
4. Flatten dough into a circle about 9 inches in diameter, and cut 8 triangles, leaving the circle intact. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown and centre resists when gently pressed.
*Alternatively you may separate the scones and bake them 2 inches apart rather than in one big circle. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake about 15-20 minutes.