Readers of this blog know that when scones show up on the screen here, it's because I've made another batch for Ben. He's an avid breakfast pastry fan - and because I'm totally retro, I try to keep his freezer stocked, because don't we all know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? The Settlement Cookbook taught me well. When I had the maple-pecan muffin bake-off a few weeks ago, I planned on giving Ben the muffins (well, after having taste-tested one - or two - myself). But little nibbly bunnies (aka roommates) got in the way and ate up most of the entire bag before I could so.
So when I saw a recipe for maple scones in the New York Times (and decided to substitute pecans for the walnuts called for), I figured I had no choice but to make them. Besides, the recipe provenance had a special significance. Though I met Ben in New York only a few years ago, we actually went to school together for a short time in a suburb of Boston, and the Samuel Sewall Inn, whose recipe accompanied an article on the maple syrup harvest, is in that same town. Ben and I were on opposite ends of the social strata in 7th grade: he was the popular, trouble-making newcomer, I was the painfully shy loner. It's no wonder we never even met. It's been an amazing experience in human growth to get to know and love him years later. Though it took me a while to realize just how special Ben is, I'm making up for my slow learning curve by baking my way further into his heart.
These scones have an incredible aroma - now totally familiar to my kitchen - of toasty pecans and warm maple flavor. The whole wheat flour adds a substiantial bite (and to make them even healthier, you could substitute cooked wheat berries for the nuts). The scones really are best eaten warm - if you can't serve them right away, heat them up in the oven before you do. And I promise that for the next few months, I'll stay away from the maple-pecan combination (after all, it's spring! Time for berries and joy!). But while rain and gray skies still threaten our city, we're curling up together to munch our breakfast with milky tea and I'm reveling in my good fortune to have landed such a scone-loving sweetheart.
Yields 8 scones
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk or as needed
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine both flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, or two knives scissor-fashion, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.
2. Add nuts. Stir in the maple syrup and egg and just enough milk so that dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball. Turn dough onto Silpat-lined baking sheet and pat (with floured hands) into an 8-inch disk; cut into wedges, but do not separate.
3. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet and carefully separate. Serve warm.