Brave New Scones

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who swore she would never be the woman taking the garbage out in a bathrobe. Cut to the other day, as I clattered my ungainly way through my front yard to the curb, bearing an enormous, torn sack. I tossed some last minute recycling in the bin, seconds before the city utility truck rumbled past. With my capacious, fuzzy robe and red wellingtons, I resembled Mrs. Claus on the days she hennas her hair. Or possibly, in my bathrobe of moss green, my red hair a fright wig of snarls, I was Merida from Brave, after she laid her quiver aside and was tamed by suburban life and middle age.

"Don't go outside in your fuzzy robe. It makes you look daft."
“Don’t go outside in your fuzzy robe. It makes you look daft.”

Dear God but we all become – not our mothers, necessarily – but the nightmare image we carry of the worst aspects of being a grown woman. The public robery is only the beginning. I fear I am going down without a fight. But enough!

I did not set out to write about the movie Brave, but while I am here, I will say: it’s a good movie. For a Disney film to feature a mother not dead, dying, or of the wicked step variety is remarkable in itself. Then to have the story be the journey a mother and daughter take together, giving them a chance to unleash their anger and prove all their fierce love and loyalty, is a welcome surprise every time I watch it. I recommend it, though not for young children. The bear scenes are so terrifying that you will never see a gummi bear again without shrieking.

Besides all that, it’s a film with a preponderance of scones (perhaps the characters would refer to them as “scons”). They appear uniformly delicious, unlike mine, which are often yummy but inconsistent (to be fair, I don’t have CGI at my disposal). You need to know that I make scones early in the morning with my youngest wailing from the bedroom that she doesn’t want to get up, my oldest asking how soon breakfast will be ready, and me wondering if I have time to get the last recyclables to the curb before the garbage truck of the apocalypse roars by, signaling that I am out of luck for two weeks.

A preserved loaf of bread from Pompeii. Here's what we try to avoid, texturally.
A preserved loaf of bread from Pompeii. Here’s what we try to avoid, texturally.

Since my scones are variable, I decided to methodically record each step so I could offer a recipe and instructions that are not “a little of this and a smidgen of that.” Let me know how these work for you. You’ll need the carbs for that eleventh hour dash to the curb, hair akimbo, risking all dignity to shove that last bit of garbage in the bin. It’s everyday heroism, Eaters.

Brave New Scones

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I usually substitute half with almond meal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt plus one dash (sorry)
2 Tablespoons flax meal
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, chilled and unsalted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Add in cubed butter (nothing works like a food processor) until the largest butter/flour clumps are no larger than half a pencil eraser (Ticonderoga No 2, that is). Add the vanilla and then milk, starting with a 1/3 cup, blending and then adding the remainder bit by bit until you have the doughy, droppable texture you desire (These are speedy scones, not the ones you pat out and cut or punch into shapes. We all love those, but they require more time and less liquid). I find the milk to dry ingredient ratio tricky here, hence my unpredictable results.

Drop with a medium scoop, or use two spoons, onto a parchment lined or insulated baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly goldened.

These scones only benefit from the addition of orange or lemon zest, currants and other dried fruits.






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