July 31, 2018

Blueberry Oat Scones

Cooked blueberries are my favorite. Yes, people dump them straight from the carton onto yogurt or cereal, into smoothies, or even just eaten by the handful. I'd much rather have them cooked down into something sweet and jammy, like blueberry pie or cobbler or pancakes or, yes, even scones. Here, you don't get the big mass of molten blueberries like in a pie but you do get pockets of sweet, juicy berries that dot the tender, flaky scone. And this isn't your normal vanilla buttermilk scone. No, it has a subtle nuttiness and heartiness from ground oats, plus a crunchy oat streusel and sweet glaze to bring it over the top. These are an end-of-summer treat that will make breakfast (or snacking or dessert) just a bit more special.

I normally treat scones like biscuits: combine the dry ingredients in a food processor, pulse in cubed cold butter, and add the buttermilk until just combined before rolling, cutting, and baking. I've done it by hand when I'm traveling or just too lazy to break out (aka commit to cleaning) my food processor, but I highly recommend using a food processor here, mainly because of the oats. I use rolled oats--not quick cooking--but grind them up with the flour for a finer texture. This allows them to hydrate better, cook faster, and not get stuck in your teeth. I don't grind them all the way down to a fine powder, just small bits so you still know they're there. It helps to grind it with the flour just to speed things along since you need some bulk for the food processor to work best.

The other ingredients for the scone are pretty simple. I use brown sugar (more than you would in a biscuit), lots of baking powder for rise, a bit of baking soda since I'm using acidic buttermilk, and some salt to enhance all the sweet flavors. The chilled butter goes in next but only until small lumps remain, and the buttermilk and vanilla go in last until just combined. The blueberries go in last so they don't get crushed; I toss them in a spoonful of flour so they don't sink to the bottom then stir them in by hand. If you pulse them in with the food processor, I can guarantee that they'll break and you'll end up with purple scones.

You can shape the scones however you like, whether it's scooping with a spoon or cookie scoop, rolling and cutting into squares or other shapes, or forming into a large circle or two and cutting into wedges. As long as they're not too big or too small, you shouldn't have to adjust the cooking time much. They'll be done when they're golden and a toothpick comes out clean. I do brush on some whole milk or cream or buttermilk to help the browning along, but it's not essential.

The last step is the toppings, specifically a crunchy oat granola and a sweet vanilla glaze. You can do one or both or none depending on your time frame and how sweet you want them. The granola consists of a quick caramel cooked down with some more whole rolled oats; the mixture should cool into a crunchy slab that you can crumble over your scones. The glaze is just powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla to taste and comes together in about 30 seconds. You'll need it for the granola to stick, but if you're not in the mood you can just press the granola into the scone dough before baking and it should stay put. These are pretty hardy scones that survived a car, a plane, and another car and still made a great impression, so take those end-of-summer berries and put them to good use!

For Scones:
2 Cups + 1 T Flour
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Chilled & Cubed
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Blueberries
2 T Milk/Cream/Buttermilk, Optional

For Granola:
3 T Butter
3 T Brown Sugar
1 Cup Rolled Oats
Pinch Salt
Pinch Cinnamon

For Glaze:
1 Cup Powdered Sugar, Sifted
2 tsp Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla
Pinch Salt

Heat oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until the oats are coarsely ground. Pulse in the butter until small lumps remain. Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla together, then add to the dough and pulse until just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1T flour then stir into the dough by hand.

Roll or scoop the dough into the desired shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the milk/cream/buttermilk. Bake for 5 minutes at 425, lower the oven to 375F, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Stir in the oats, cinnamon, and salt and stir to coat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until toasted and caramelized. Spread onto a sheet of parchment to cool.

Whisk the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt together. Drizzle onto the cooled scones and top with the crumbled granola.

Makes 12-16

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