It’s the little things
I realize we are still in the midst of holiday baking season, but I know that when the new year hits we’ll all talk about our resolutions to eat better and take better care of ourselves. So I thought, why not start now? Don’t get me wrong, I plan to indulge over the holidays as much as anyone. But if you’re doing some holiday baking, why not experiment with whole wheat flour?
I don’t think I have to tell you that whole grains are good for you. They’re packed with fiber and protein. And it follows that whole wheat flour is much better for you than refined all-purpose flour. Some people don’t like eating whole wheat pasta or even whole wheat bread because they find the texture coarse and unpleasant. While I am not one of those people, I can understand where they are coming from. A great gateway to eating more whole wheat products is to use whole wheat flour in baked treats. That way you are still eating something “naughty” that feels like a dessert, but you are benefiting from the whole grains at the same time.
You can start off by using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose, if you like. I tend to go cold turkey and substitute 100% whole wheat flour in my baked goods, but I’ll admit it doesn’t always come out as tender as it probably should be. If you are making muffins, cookies, scones, or cakes, whole wheat pastry flour is the way to go because it is more tender than regular whole wheat flour. For anything else, such as pizza dough or bread, why not try out white whole wheat flour? It’s every bit as nutritious as regular whole wheat flour but with a paler color, so as not to frighten your whole-grain-phobic friends and family members.
If you’ve never experimented with whole wheat flour before, here is a recipe that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s a slightly sweet and slightly tart scone that’s great with an afternoon cup of tea, or for breakfast with a big mug of coffee. It’s buttery and delicious, but has the benefit of whole wheat pastry flour. It uses a combination of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, so it’s a great introductory recipe.
And before I share it with you, I have to give a shout-out to the source – King Arthur Flour. They make the best whole wheat flours that I’ve tried, and I am a huge fan. My husband and I even visited their company store when we were in Vermont and I wanted to buy everything they had there. You should check them out.
In a world where we’re all trying (or should be trying) to take care of ourselves, why not go for a whole grain treat? This recipe makes 16 scones.
Cherry-Chocolate Scones (adapted from King Arthur Flour – Whole Grain Baking)
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup dried cherries (I used Montmorency, which are tart & sweet)
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1 large egg
- scant 1 cup lowfat plain yogurt, supplemented with a splash of skim milk to make it 1 full cup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- skim milk, for brushing the tops
- coarse sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter (or a fork) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs or sand. Add the cherries and chocolate, and stir with a fork just to mix them in.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt-milk mixture, and vanilla. Add all at once to the dry ingredients, and stir lightly and quickly with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, just until it comes together as a cohesive dough ball. Do not overwork it. Pat the dough out into a rectangle shape about 3/4 inch thick. It will measure approximately 8 inches wide by 10 inches long. Use a lightly greased bench knife (or regular knife) to cut in half lengthwise, and then in quarters across. Cut each resulting rectangle in half diagonally, to make a wedge shape.
Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until they are puffed and golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.