Click here to view recipe.
I’ve been on a cooking and baking bender of late – it’s been a culinary extravaganza in my kitchen and I don’t even really know why. My husband is away for two weeks and I’ve been filling up the freezer with soups, moussaka, chicken thigh dishes, banana bread, and now scones. My entire condominium smells all day and all night with whatever I am making at the time. The other day one of my neighbors even traipsed upstairs, following the sweet, wafting smell of baked goods … wondering in particular if I was using nutmeg… So I handed her a few delicious scones and decided that, even though I’ve written about scones in the past (both cinnamon chip and oatmeal & fruit), these were worthy of a share.
This particular version began in my head when my husband returned from a quick trip to California; he brought me a huge bag of plump medjool dates – my favorite. I ate many of these alone – too many, in fact. Thankfully I stopped myself when I realized how delicious they would be in scones . I started with a recipe from Rose Carrarini’s book Breakfast, Lunch, Tea. I changed it a bit and I switched out and added a few things as well: I added orange zest because I feel orange and date marry well; I used salted butter because that’s all I had on hand as well as dark brown sugar for the molassasy taste and I brushed the tops of these scones with milk rather than egg just to simplify, then sprinkled them with a tiny tiny bit of raw sugar for crunch. Heaven forbid I should ever make a recipe per the instructions.
I pretend these are healthful — I mean, whole wheat flour, dates, very little sugar. Uh huh. I do like my changes and the spicy and not-too-sweet result – as did my neighbor. So I hope you make these. Oh, and they freeze well too. I have a couple batches socked away for summer guests. I’ll simply defrost, reheat slightly and serve these a little warmish with some fresh soft butter.
Orange Nutmeg Date Scones
Makes 9-10 smallish scones
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour (slightly round the measuring cup)
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour* (I use King Arthur brand)
- 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg**
- Zest of 1 medium orange (I do this on the microplane)
- 2 heaping Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 5 Tbsp cold salted butter, diced
- ½ cup pitted, chopped dates
- ¾ whole milk (reserve 1 Tbsp of this to brush on top)
- 2 tsp turbinado sugar (for the top)
* I realize that “white” whole wheat flour sounds like an oxymoron. An easy way to think of it is as a sort of albino wheat. The bran of white wheat is not only lighter in color but it’s also milder in flavor, making whole white wheat more appealing to many people accustomed to the taste of refined flour. I always use this when a recipe calls for whole wheat flour.
** Note: I grate my fresh ball of nutmeg on my microplane grater – I don’t measure but I can eyeball what ¼ tsp looks like. Fresh nutmeg is SO MUCH better than previously ground. Trust me.
Preheat the oven to 400°F with the oven rack in the middle. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare your dates. I oil my chef’s knife because the dates stick and the oil helps me wipe off the stuck dates while I am chopping. I then toss the chopped pieces with about 1 tsp of flour to keep them from sticking back together.
In a large bowl, whisk together both types of flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the brown sugar, whisking again, and then add the butter. Using an old fashioned pastry cutter, or two forks, work the butter into the flour mixture until there the butter pieces are pea sized or smaller. Sprinkle in the dates. Add most of the milk, and using a rubber spatula, stir it into the ingredients in the bowl. If it seems too dry and there is flour that you cannot incorporate with the spatula, add more milk until it comes together but isn’t too sticky.
Once the dough comes together in one lump, complete making it into a ball with your hands, pressing it and turning it to incorporate all the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work pastry cloth – I love my silicone one – and pat it into a 1-inch tall disk Cut the dough like you would a pizza (use a knife dipped in flour) into 9 or 10 wedges. Place the wedges on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and space them apart since they will spread out. Brush the tops with a little milk (I do this with my hands) and sprinkle with a tiny bit of raw sugar.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden. Serve warm – or, if eating later, reheat gently before eating.