Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sidebar Sunday: Red Fife Cream Scones with Turkish Apricots & Thyme

This is my first non-bread post. I have never really been interested in posting anything other than bread here, but man, I had to share these scones with you.

Red Fife Cream Scones With Turkish Apricots & Thyme

I milled my own Red Fife for these scones using my Komo mill. The Mendocino Grain Project was good enough to send me a bag of this incredible, and at one time difficult to source, heritage wheat, along with an admonishment that I should resist the urge to sully its integrity by combining it with white flour, so its taken me a while to come up with things to make it shine. The result today is, wow, man-oh-man. Super tender scones with an incredible nutty/earthy flavor, and not too sweet. I added dried Turkish apricots (darker in color because they are sulfur-free), lemon zest and thyme to the mix because the triad sounded like a good compliment to such a kingly grain.

Speaking of, what exactly is Red Fife? Well, it's an heirloom cultivar of wheat that was adopted in Ontario, Canada. It's thought to have originated in Turkey-hence my choice of Turkish apricots to pair with it-and this heritage grain is still widely grown in Canada today. It is gaining much press and recognition in the United States as well, and evidently growers cannot keep up with the demand. A little over a year ago when seeking out this grain, there were no suppliers in the U.S. that I could find. Indeed, I was admonished to warn you all that you will not be able to purchase this from Mendocino Grain Project simply because they have none to sell. But you may try next year to see if they have increased their crop to accommodate the wider market.

You can purchase Red Fife flour through Anson Mills, and it will run you about $4.00 - $4.50 a pound. Though I am seeing more and more grain sellers offering the whole grains, so for those of you with a mill, you may want to seek out the berries. With a cursory internet search, I was able to locate it on Fieldstone Organics, Roan Mills and Good Earth Mill & Grains. It's wild to think that only a short while ago, I couldn't find anyone who was selling Red Fife.

Back to the scones. The key to a flaky, light and tender scone is first to work with cold butter, I used frozen butter in our formula today, and second to handle the dough only as much as necessary, employing ginger fingers as you do. I also came up with the brilliant idea of freezing the shaped round for 12-14 minutes before cutting and baking, since I know that chilling pie dough through the various steps of creating it is critical to keeping the resulting crust from becoming tough or greasy. I had a hunch that this must hold true then for scones, and indeed my scones were so tender that the slightest pinch had them crumbling on the plate. OK, I didn't use a plate. I stood over my work bench and ate two in a row. Don't judge.

Red Fife Cream Scones With Turkish Apricots & Thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, gather the following (please use organic ingredients whenever possible):

250g freshly milled Red Fife flour, I used Mendocino Grain Project's Red Fife berries
140g cane sugar
9g baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt, I used Diamond
165g dried turkish sulfur-free apricots
Zest of one large lemon
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
115g heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
1 egg
120g unsalted butter, frozen, I used Kerrygold
A bit of Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

1) In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, thyme, zest, set aside.

2) In a glass measure, beat the egg, now whisk in the cream and set aside.

2) Grate the frozen butter directly into the flour using the large holes of a box grater.

3) Using quick ginger fingers, toss the butter with the flour until the butter bits are coated with the flour.

4) Now add the cream/egg mixture to this and again, being very gentle and quick, fold the whole mess together until just combined using a rubber spatula. Do not overwork the dough. It's fine if there is some obstinate loose flour at the bottom of the bowl, you will incorporate this into the mass in the next step.

5) Turn the dough onto a floured workspace, sprinkle the apricots over this and working quickly and very gently fold them into the dough. The dough should be crumbly.

6) Line a sheet pan with parchment. Shape the dough into an 8-inch round and pop into the freezer for 12 - 14 minutes.

7) Meanwhile, pour about 1/4 cup of cream into a bowl and get out your pastry brush. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or a sheet of parchment. Set aside. When the dough is thoroughly chilled (it should not be frozen solid, just very firm), pull it out and divide into 8 equal pieces. I used a bench scraper, but you can use a knife.

8) Brush the dough lightly with the cream, then sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar. I could have used more.

9) Transfer the slices onto the awaiting sheet pan and bake till golden, about 18 - 20 minutes.

Mine took exactly 18 minutes. Cool just a bit before eating, and man, are they good eaten warm!

I have a little update. So, I made these scones again a few days after this post, and instead of Turkish apricots, I chopped up 160g of Rittersport dark chocolate hazelnut bar and folded the chunks into the dough at the point where I previously added the apricots. Um, divine! If you try this version, you will also omit the thyme and lemon zest, and add 1 TB pure vanilla extract in their place. Otherwise the core recipe remains the same.

(If you have never had Rittersport, you are seriously missing out. The 'Corn Flakes' bar is like crack.)

Red Fife Cream Scones with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Rittersport

To the staff of life!


  1. Very nice and welcome back - we miss you when you are not around. I got my order of RF wheat berries today (from Good Earth Mills) and dashed off to make your scones with a couple of substitutions (1/2 n 1/2 and sour cream instead of heavy cream, half fresh peaches and 1/2 dried apricots, and dried thyme instead of fresh) Also, I pulsed it all together with the food processor instead of mixing by hand- they turned out wonderful. Thank you for your inspiration - now, what to do with the remaining 5 lbs of RF wheat?

    1. Aw, thank you Pamela. It's nice to be missed! :) Your scones sound fabulous. Sour cream. I will have to try that.

      What to do with the remaining RF? More scones. Definitely. ;)



  2. Hello France, I can't get RF, what can I use instead. ?


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