I imagine scones are what the Queen enjoyed either after or before Prince William’s Royal Wedding. I picture her coming in for an afternoon break and while enjoying the quiet, a plate of freshly baked, buttery sweet scones and a pot of piping hot tea is brought in to her. The scones are served on a beautiful plate, on a doily of course, and served plain with just a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
Maybe I’m way off the mark, but I would venture to bet that she has enjoyed scones a time or two.
While there is one major difference between her scones and my scones, it’s not going to be the taste. No, in fact, they’ll both taste complex and a bit dense, but her scones won’t have the deliciousness that comes with a mouthwatering gluten free scone.
If scones are new to you, I feel your hesitation. After all, we just talked about the Queen of England eating them. But really, you have nothing to worry about. Scones may sound like a difficult task, but with a few little shortcuts, they will turn out perfect every time.
Roll up your sleeves, grab your gluten free flours and make note of these shortcuts…
Shortcut # 1 – Use a shaped pan.
Scones can be shaped just about any way you would like. But a common shape is a triangle, actually more resembling a wedge. A shaped pan with the wedges already formed makes forming these rich little delights a breeze. Plus, if you are baking them for company, it’s very impressive to have perfectly shaped scone wedges.
Shortcut # 2 – Use a food processor.
A food processor takes the work out of preparing scones. Actually, the only work involved is measuring and adding your ingredients to it. The food processor does all the work for you. Add in your shaped pan and you have one of the easiest, most buttery treats ever.
Shortcut # 3 – You can use sour cream in place of yogurt. And vice versa.
It took me a while to realize that I didn’t have to run to the store just for one ingredient (sour cream), when I had yogurt on hand already. And here’s another idea I discovered out of necessity – the yogurt you use does not have to be plain. Vanilla, strawberry, even lemon works too and it evens adds a lovely flavor to your scones.
Shortcut # 4 – Make sure your butter is cold and cut it into chunks.
If you are preparing your scones by hand, cold butter cut into small chucks will save you a lot of hard work and time. The butter in a gluten free scone recipe is to be “cut” in. Warm butter just melts the more you work with it. And large chunks of butter will take forever to break down into the dough. So start off right and save yourself some time and effort.
Shortcut # 5 – Coconut flour is a great addition.
If you’ve made scones before and just felt like they were missing something, the complexness of coconut flour might be it. Coconut flour is flour made from the coconut meat, so it has a naturally, slightly sweet taste. Substituting in about ¼ of a cup of coconut flour into your scone recipe makes an amazing scone even more decadent.
Sometimes it is so tempting to mix and knead and pat the dough just a little more. But just remember, although there’s no gluten in your dough, overmixing is still a very real possibility. You usually hear the phrase “mix just until combined” with regular wheat based recipes. This is for fear that you could overwork the gluten. While this is not a factor in gluten free dough, overmixing dough and batter results in a tough, not tender scone. So “mix just until combined”.
Shortcut # 7 – Scones can be a square shape too.
Actually shaping your scones into a square also cuts down on the time it takes to prepare your dough for baking. It’s really very simple – when you’re ready to shape, slice and bake your scones, instead of shaping them into a round disk, shape them into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Then just cut it into equal pieces and bake. Very simple.
Shortcut # 8 – Your scones recipe may not need a gum.
Gums are binding agents, so you would think that a scone would need a binding agent. In fact, if you are using baking powder and/or baking soda in your recipe, this should be enough to keep it together. This is particularly true if eggs are also included.
Shortcut # 9 – Substitutions are ok.
Besides the sour cream and yogurt substitution, other substitutions you can try out would be:
Cornstarch instead of arrowroot or tapioca
A gluten free all-purpose mix can replace all the flours called for in the recipe
Most flours can be substituted – be warned that there will be taste differences, but try it anyway, you never know.
Shortcut # 10 – Glaze or icing can be skipped.
I know, this may sound so contradictory, especially when the icing is in the title of the recipe, but rest assured, the scone itself is great with or without the icing. Here’s a great example of when it can be skipped – you are making gluten free scones and get pulled in 5 different directions while making them and now your company is just moments away. Or you don’t have the ingredients for the icing or glaze. Or you take a bite of one and decide to skip it. I used to think that the glazes and icings were an intricate part of the finished product, in most cases, they’re not. So serve them as-is – no one will ever know.
Enjoy your scones!