Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Scones

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This upcoming weekend will be the first one in awhile that I’ll be home sleeping in my own bed. While I’ll be working the Ballard Farmers Market on Sunday, I’ve schemed up all kinds of scenarios for Saturday: sleep in and read in bed, brunch at one of the new restaurants cropping up around town, catch up on an Oscar film, hike Mount Si. Oh, the options! While traveling for the book tour has been a little more exhausting than I’d originally thought it’d be, there have been some unexpected highlights. Perhaps one of my favorites: the daily scone. 

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Sam came with me to Portland to promote the cookbook and we stayed at a hotel called The Kennedy School. While we usually stay at the Ace if we’re in town, I’d heard good things about The Kennedy School —  it’s a historic schoolhouse that’d been converted into a large hotel with a soaking tub, a movie theater and a restaurant. It’s also close to Alberta, which is a great pocket for ambling about, eating good Indian street food, and ice cream — if that’s your thing, of course. Well, Sam loved the hotel. He would’ve moved in if the staff gave him the thumbs up. The room had really high ceilings and a great desk and he got some of his own work done while I ran about town doing classes and talks. He loved the sandwiches at the cafe, the IPA, the view from our room, the irreverence in design. And apparently, the girls working at the bar loved Sam. You get the idea. Me? I felt kind of like I was back in college for some reason … and not in a good way.  The food wasn’t great (although they did serve tater tots which you’ll never find me complaining about), the parking lot was always full, and for whatever reason the charm was just lost on me. But the one thing that I really did love: morning room service coffee with a warm daily scone. Hello, daily scone! Where have you been all my life?

The first morning we were there, the scone was a blueberry mascarpone, the second morning it was a decadent chocolate affair, and the third morning a really light, crumbly cherry almond. I loved every one. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is certainly healthier than the scones we had in Portland. Sure, there’s butter, but I used all whole-wheat flour and opted to sweeten these ever so slightly with maple syrup instead of a more refined sugar. There is a new-ish coffeeshop here in Seattle called Vif and they make a fine, fine scone if you get a chance to visit (as a side note, they also make their own almond milk for lattes which blows my mind each time I have it). I always ask what the Vif secrets are and inevitably they tell me there’s either ground walnuts or almonds in the actual scone so I took their lead here and used walnut meal as well as chopped, toasted walnuts. I love the rustic quality of the crumb: the walnut meal adds an earthy toastiness along with little flecks of color. They’re not overly sweet, and they feel simple and solid — perhaps the definition of a good scone?  If you happen to like your scones a little less simple, I think golden raisins would be really wonderful folded into the dough as would little bits of chocolate (they do this at Vif) or even crystallized ginger.

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If you’re a scone sceptic, I think you might still like these: they have a crumbly, flaky exterior but the interior is extremely tender — almost more like a muffin. I know quite a few people in my life who would take a muffin over a scone any day because they feel scones are often dry and lifeless. These are an exception.

Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Scones

Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Scones

  • Yield: 6 large scones; 8 small scones
  • Prep time: 25 mins
  • Cook time: 25 mins
  • Inactive time: 10 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr

Because we’re using buttermilk and a liquid sweetener for these scones, this dough is definitely on the wet side — so do know you’ll want to use some flour to help you form it into a disk without sticking to the counter … and your hands.  And don’t skip the step where you let the dough rest for 10 minutes — that’ll help the whole-grain flours soak up a little of the moisture. If you have trouble finding whole-wheat pastry flour, feel free to use spelt flour or all-purpose flour instead.

Ingredients

3 cups (300g) walnut halves
1 cup (150g) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 ¼ cup (150 g) whole-wheat flour, plus more for forming scones
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons (115g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, plus extra to brush tops
1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 2 tablespoons real maple syrup (Grade B, if possible)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple sugar (or turbinado sugar), to sprinkle on top (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lay the walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 1 cup of the walnuts until very finely ground. Coarsely chop the remaining 2 cups.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk in the ground walnut meal. Add the cubed butter and, using your hands or a pastry cutter, rub or cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small, course peas. Do this quickly so the butter won’t warm too much. It’s o.k. to have a few larger chunks of butter. Fold in the remaining chopped walnuts.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or flat spatula, stir until the dough gathers together (I actually use my hands at this point). The dough will be pretty wet and that’s o.k. Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the whole-grain flours to soak up a bit of the moisture.

Take out a large wooden board (or use a clean table surface) and sprinkle generously with flour. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter or surface and sprinkle the top with a little flour. Gather the dough into a ball and pat/push it down so it’s circular in shape and about 1-inch thick. Cut into 6 large wedges (or 8 for smaller-size scones).

Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet, brush the tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for about 25-30 minutes – or until tops are lightly brown. Cool on the pan for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Comments

  1. sue/the view from great island

    This is reminding me that I haven't made nearly enough scones this winter. I love them a little on the wet side, it means they are nice and moist when they're baked. And maple is such a wonderful rich flavor!

  2. Melissa

    I was just thinking yesterday while making scones, how could I make this with maple syrup? I can always count on you. And I'm down with the daily scone idea.

    1. megang

      Yay, Melissa! Yes, I was nervous b/c it's a liquid sweetener so I wasn't sure how the dough would be. Round 1 was a fail, but Round 2 (more flour, less liquid) is a win! Just know the dough seems a little wetter than you're used to scone dough being so you just kind of flour it up while you're shaping them and it's all good. Happy weekend!

  3. Lindsay

    These look amazing, I love the idea of ground walnuts in the scones. I was wondering about the measurements for the walnuts though, is it 1 cup ground and 1 cup coarsely chopped, or 1 cup ground and 2 cups coarsely chopped? Thanks!

    1. megang

      Hi Lindsay-
      So 3 cups walnut halves for the whole recipe. ! cup gets ground and folded into the flour mixture. The other 2 cups are chopped and folded into the dough as larger bits. Make sense? I'll look back at the recipe to make sure it's clear! Enjoy! ~m

  4. wendy@chezchloe

    I love all scones- and this looks like a way to eat, enjoy and think how good those walnuts are for our brain. If one must have a little more sweet a little drizzle of maple cinnamon glaze wouldn't be so bad:) Hope you have a very restful Saturday... wendy

    1. megang

      Yes, Wendy! A glaze would be really nice if you want a little extra sweetness. I thought about this, too, but ultimately decided to keep them pretty simple. Hope you're having a good weekend, too! ~m

  5. Nicole

    Could these be the scones of my dreams?! I think they might be. Will find out this weekend :)

    1. megang

      I'd love to hear what you think, N! The dough is a little wonky to work with (just wet), so use flour liberally on the counter. I hope you like them! ~m

  6. Alanna

    These sounds delicious! Love that maple syrup makes an appearance. Maple syrup and honey are my go-to sweeteners. Who wouldn't want a healthier scone daily? :)

  7. June

    These scones sounds really good. I just purchased your book - WOW! My partner and I are older (retired) and often find that "breakfast" is the main meal of the day. Your book has wonderful ideas for adding to my repertoire.
    Thanks you so much for finding our area a great place to live, love, and cook.

  8. Francesca

    These look lovely... scones are my English mister's favorite.

  9. Katie @ Whole Nourishment

    I love that you use walnut meal in these scones. They look so good and I'll definitely be trying them out.

  10. Victoria

    Hi Megan:
    I loved reading this post. My mother went to school at Kennedy and grew up a block away. Spent her growing up years in that neighborhood during the depression. We used to visit there as a kid. Thank you for the unexpected trip down memory lane. Scones sound yummy. (you have a small fortune in walnuts there - can't imagine what you'd have to charge to sell them in a coffee shop to recoup that investment :-)

    Just had your multi-grain pancakes for breakfast this morning. Best ever! Thanks again. Will your tour get you down to San Diego??

    1. megang

      Hi, Victoria: Oh how nice that you have a personal connection to that neighborhood - I hear it's changed DRAMATICALLY. I love the New Seasons market close by (the ice cream aisle is unreal!). Sadly, I won't be coming down to San Diego anytime soon ... going to stick close to home for a few months. Hope you enjoy the scones! ~megan

  11. Allyson

    Oh, these look lovely. I think I'll be trying this out for next weekend. Thank you for the beautiful recipe and pictures!

  12. Stacy

    I LOVE SCONES. I will certainly give this recipe a try - the idea of a daily scone is so delightful. I know what you mean about your reaction to that hotel, too - sometimes I'm not charmed, even when I want to be, and even when I try! I'm glad you found some redemption in the scone at least. I'm glad you're home for some relaxing and normal living. xoxo

    1. megang

      Stacy: I'm unstoppable lately. Made berry scones this morning and am thinking about a wacky and wild ginger / date concoction. Thankfully, Sam's nephew LOVES scones, too (and lives nearby) otherwise I'd need to start upping the number of yoga classes per week, too :) Hope you're well!

  13. Laura@baking in pyjamas

    These sound delicious, I could quite happily see myself eating these with a cup of tea on a Sunday morning. Saved!

  14. sf123

    Could I substitute chopped apples instead of the walnuts?

    1. megang

      Hi, there @sf123: I fear apples are going to mess up the liquid/dry ration here as you're going to end up with some soggy scones. Is there another nut that you might like instead? Or perhaps dried cranberries or dried blueberries or ginger? ~megan

  15. Kasey

    Scones are so underrated. I'd look forward to my daily scone if I were on the road, too. We're headed to Portland in August for a friend's wedding - thinking we'll stay at the Ace but maybe we'll check out the place you stayed at! x

    1. megang

      Kasey-I'd go ACE over the place we stayed, to be honest. I have a few good food recs, so let me know / remind me to chat with you about it before you head up. Hope you're having a good week so far, friend. xox, m

  16. Sami @ My Second Breakfast

    Scones are by far my favourite thing to make (and store in the freezer) as a special brunch treat. I can't imagine the joy of getting to eat a different one every day! These look great, I'll have to make a batch when mine run out.

  17. Eliz

    I've never made scones although they have always been one of my favorites. But this might just be the recipe to get me to do it. The glaze idea made me think that orange zest would be a wonderful addition in a light glaze!

  18. Chrissy

    I'm happy to report--re: some of the comments above--that apples do beautifully here. I dialed back the buttermilk to just over 3/4 cup, and subbed in about 1 cup of chopped apples (half of a large Fuji). I too was worried they'd come out sunk and soggy but they were anything but. These are so lovely. That lightly sweet, rustic flavor and nutty crumb that makes whole grain baked goods so good.

    Megan--I met you back in the spring at the Ballard Farmer's Market, and we talked about the magic of Vif and my excitement over this recipe. Though it took me 6 months (!) to get them in the oven, they were worth the wait. Thank you for this, and for being as warm and sweet in person as you are here; was great to meet you!

    1. megang

      I am so glad, Chrissy! This makes me really happy. Your substitutions sound wonderful, and I'm eager to try your version. I do remember talking with you at the market (and about Vif). Stop by next time you're in the area. All my best for a happy fall ~ Megan

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