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Spiced Apple and Oat Scones

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When the weather turns crisp and cool, I literally bolt to the kitchen to bake some warmth into our home. Not only do I love spending my free time in the kitchen, but I do it with my toddler so it keeps him busy and our baking sessions often yield wholesome snacks for the school lunchbox so it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Like most moms, I’m always on the lookout for the healthiest ‘treat’ I can make, and sometimes I experiment with different flours or natural ingredients to create recipes that suit the many dietary restrictions that seem to infiltrate most households today. Which is exactly what I did with these spiced apple and oat scones.

The recipe as written is certainly wholesome, but not gluten-free or vegan. I’ve experimented to make it both, with surprisingly successful results.

To make scones gluten-free: substitute the spelt flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour. This flour can simply be swapped cup for cup for regular flour, but is completely gluten-free. Be careful not to confuse this with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour, which requires the addition of xanthan gum or guar gum to make it a suitable replacement. Also, you need to be sure to use gluten-free oats, which many brands now indicate on their packaging.

To make scones vegan: the only ingredients that need to be replaced to make this recipe vegan are the butter and buttermilk. To make vegan buttermilk, combine 1 cup non-dairy milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and let sit for 5 minutes. In the case of this recipes because we need 2/3 cups buttermilk, you’ll want to use 2/3 cups almond milk and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. To replace the butter in the recipe, you can use non-dairy unsalted butter (such as Earth Balance).

To make scones vegan and gluten-free: make all the above substitutions to the original recipe.

The only substitution I haven’t made is with respect to sugar, because these just don’t have very much (1 ½ teaspoons per scone). You could use demerara or coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar, if you like. Maple syrup would be the best swap, but I haven’t given that a try yet.

Let me know if you give any of these options – including the original wholegrain variation – a try! I can’t wait to hear what you think. Also, this recipe was slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s book A New Way to Bake, which has become an indispensable guide to learning to bake with better ingredients.

You’ll Need

  • 1 2/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus extra for decorating
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup cold butter, grated
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 2/3 cup cold buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
  • Optional: coarse sugar

Prep and Cook

  • 1
    Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 2
    In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Rib the grated butter into the flour mixture with your fingers. Stir in the apples and buttermilk until the dough just begins to come together. It will be sticky.
  • 3
    Lightly flour a countertop of work surface and tip out the dough. Pat it into a rectangle (approximately 8 x 6-inch) and cut into 12 squares using a floured knife or bench scraper.
  • 4
    Place scones 2 inches apart on the prepared pan and brush the tops with buttermilk. Sprinkle with extra oats and coarse sugar, if using.

  • 5
    Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Scones are best eaten with 24 hours, and can be frozen if they can’t be consumed so quickly.

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