Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cornmeal Plum Scones

We'll have to get used to a different Sunday morning routine now that the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is done for the season. As my sister-in-law taught me this summer, making scones is a manageable morning task for a late breakfast, so my son and I whipped up these tasty scones from Melissa Clark, with plums from Sweetwater Farm and corn flour from Lonesome Whistle Farm.

For this recipe, you make a quick plum jam with caramelized honey and a bay leaf, and then layer this right into your scone dough triangles, resulting in some nice caramelized plum pieces on the top of your scones when they come out of the oven. 

To be enjoyed with extra plum jam, a second cup of tea, and another section of the Sunday newspaper as the morning fog burns off.

Cornmeal Plum Scones
3 tablespoons/45 milliliters honey
1 bay leaf
¾ pound plums/1/3 kilogram (~20 small), halved, pitted and then cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup/175 milliliters heavy cream, more as needed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 ⅔ cups/275 grams all-purpose flour
⅓ cup/60 grams fine cornmeal
3 tablespoons/35 grams sugar
2 teaspoons/7 grams baking powder
½ teaspoon/2 grams kosher salt
6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed, plus more for serving if you like

1. Put honey and bay leaf in a medium skillet over medium heat. Simmer until honey is bubbling and turns a shade darker, about 2 minutes.

2. Place plums in honey. Cook, without moving, until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir plums and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, until tender but not falling completely apart. If the caramel starts to get too brown, stir in a teaspoon or two of water and lower the heat. Scrape plums and syrup into a bowl and chill for at least 1 hour. (Plum compote can be made up to a week ahead.)

3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the cream and egg.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt (or you can do this in a food processor). Using a fork, pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut butter into flour until the mixture forms coarse crumbs (or pulse in a food processor). Drizzle in as much of the cream mixture as you need to make a smooth, moist but not wet dough. Save remaining cream-egg mixture for brushing.

6. Turn dough out onto prepared baking sheet. Pat into a 1 1/4-inch thick round. Using a paring knife, cut 8 wedge-shaped scones (as though you were cutting slices of pie) and push them apart on the baking sheet to separate them 1/2 inch apart. Brush dough with remaining cream-egg mixture, or use more cream if you’ve run out of the mixture.

7. Using your fingertips, make a deep indentation about 1 inch in diameter in the center of each scone. Tuck some plum into the hole. Transfer pan to oven and bake until uniformly golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve scones with extra plum compote and butter on the side if you like.

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