There’s an old tradition that’s made a very welcome come back in the last few years – Afternoon Tea. And what’s not to like? Little sandwiches, a lovely selection of delicious cakes all washed down with dainty cups of freshly brewed tea. Continue reading “Afternoon tea”
Working out what to have for a picnic or in lunchboxes can be a bit challenging at times, especially when you are eating with food intolerances or starting to follow a whole-food plant-based diet. For me, sandwiches tend to be off the menu so I’m always looking for something that’s satisfying, super tasty and not going to make me feel bleurgh at the end of the meal.
I am a big fan of scones – there’s already two recipes on my blog, these sweet dairy-free scones (one of my earlier recipes and so not quite as healthy as nowadays!) and these lovely savoury pumpkin scones. So why the need for another one? Surely two is enough?
Firstly, I don’t think you can ever have enough scone recipes! But apart from that, these savoury scones push the flavour boundaries further than the pumpkin ones, and contain a cheap, easy and super-nutritious vegetable – carrot.
I’ve already talked about how healthy carrots can be with my post earlier this week here. They can also be a useful agent in low-fat whole-food baking, acting as an egg and butter replacement whilst adding in some nutritional goodies at the same time. Carrots are complimented by a number of other flavours including mixed herbs, nutritional yeast (for that slight cheesy flavour) and a little mustard, all of which feature in this recipe.
If you suffer from food intolerances that mean yeast or mustard are off the menu, then you can just up the other flavours and not miss out on the lovely savoriness of these scones. And if you can’t have either, then just top up on the herbs, add a little extra salt and make them anyway for they will still taste wonderful.
Rather than going for whole-meal flour, I’ve started to use spelt for much of my baking. This older strain of wheat seems to be less of a challenge to many people’s digestion compared to modern fast grown wheat. It has a slightly nutty flavour and produces slightly lighter, fluffier scones than whole-wheat flour. Of course if you have an allergy or an intolerance to gluten, spelt is not for you. Fortunately, these scones work well with a good gluten-free flour mix like Dove’s Farm so you don’t have to miss out.
I like to make these scones in two round batches and then cut then into triangles. It saves time as you don’t have bother rolling out the dough and cutting them into shapes (and risk losing the air bubbles that make them light and fluffy) and you don’t end up with leftover dough that ends up getting thrown away. They do well in the oven too, producing a more even bake. Finally, if you make too many to eat in one or two sittings, then these freeze really well, perfect to grab for a quick lunch or snack.
So why not give these yummy savoury scones a try over the weekend? They are so worth the effort. And if you do, don’t forget to let me know how you get on.
- 400 grams spelt flour or gluten-free alternative
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 150 grams carrot pureé (see note below)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons soya milk (or other dairy-free milk as tolerated)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon soya milk to brush over the top
- 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Place a silicon mat or non-stick baking paper onto a large tray.
- Place the flour, baking powder, salt, herbs and nutritional yeast in a bowl and mix together to combine well.
- In a separate, large bowl, mix together the carrot pureé, olive oil (if using), ground flaxseed, water, soya milk and mustard. Whisk together well to combine and rest for a couple of minutes to let the flaxseed thicken the mix slightly.
- Tip the dry mix into the wet (the opposite to how you normally do it when making cakes) and bring together with a large spoon and then your hands to form a soft dough.
- Split the mix into two equal halves. Carefully mold each half into a round and place on the prepared tray. Gently mark out 6 sections on each round with a knife, but don't cut all the way through. Brush the top with soya milk and sprinkle mixed seeds on the top (if using).
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes until the top is lightly golden and firm and the underneath sounds slighly hollow when you tap it. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Once cooled, cut each round into 6 triangular portions. Serve whilst slightly warm or keep in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. If you want to freeze the scones, lay them out onto a non-stick baking tray and place in the freezer so each one freezes individually. Once hard, transfer to a freezer-safe container and return to the freezer. Remove and defrost scones as required.
I often get asked where the ideas for my recipes come from. Sometimes, I just make things up on the spot, others are inspired by something I have read or seen in a magazine or on the internet. Occasionally, an idea rumbles around in the back of my mind for a long time then suddenly comes together. These pumpkin scones are in that category.
Before my dairy-free and plant-based days, I had an amazing recipe for pumpkin scones that I think appeared in a Riverford veg box. They were delicious. It disappeared when we packed up our house for storage whilst we were overseas never to be found, and no longer on the Riverford website (or not that I could find anyway). Now I cook mainly fat-free as well, I wanted to work out how to successfully replace the fat ingredient, using pumpkin puree as an oil and egg replacement; a few attempts resulted in very dense, bullet-like scones. Not for general consumption!
Finally, I cracked it! These savoury pumpkin scones are seriously satisfying and tasty, as well as super healthy. And they are just like normal scones in texture and weight, not a bullet in sight! Perfect for lunch or afternoon tea, they’re also fabulous dunked in a warming winter soup. Definitely worth the time spent thinking about them!
Savoury pumpkin scones (makes 6x7cm wide scones)
400g spelt flour (use plain gluten free if needed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme or sage
150g pumpkin puree*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water
4 tablespoons rice or soya milk
a few pumpkin seeds for decoration
* I make my pumpkin puree by roasting a few slices of pumpkin or squash with the skin on in the oven, covered with tin foil (the steam helps it cook and retain it’s fluid). When cooled, I removed the skin and then mashed it in a bowl before adding the other wet ingredients.
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicon baking mat.
Mix the pumpkin puree, olive oil, flaxseed and water and the rice milk together in a bowl. Make sure they are well combined. In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and herbs and mix together well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and cut in with a knife until the mixes start to combine, then use your hands to bring it all together.
Remove from the bowl and knead gently on the worktop until you have a soft dough. Carefully flatten the dough with your palm until it’s spread a bit and 3cm thick. Using a 7cm wide cookie cutter, cut out your scones and place onto the baking tray. Re-knead the dough and flatten a couple of times until you have used it all up. Brush the tops with dairy free milk and add pumpkin seeds for decoration. Bake in the oven for 14-18 minutes until lightly golden on top and firm on the bottom. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a tray. Enjoy!
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, being intolerant to all forms of dairy means I can’t eat one of my favourite things – cake. Having a sweet tooth, it’s something I look forward to, and relish, and yet unless I bake my own, it’s something I cannot eat when I’m out and about.
However, to my delight, one of the things I have noticed since coming back to the UK, is that there are an increasing number of cafes that serve a dairy free option, which is most exciting (not so good for my waistline!!). But it really depends upon where I am as to whether there’s a suitable sweet bite. Luckily for me, I live close to Brighton, a small city on the south coast of England that has a reputation as being a little alternative. There are now a number of cafes serving up vegan cake, so not only do I get a choice of cafe, but also a choice of cake!
There’s also a fantastic whole food store, Infinity Foods, that not only sells fresh veg and dried products, but bread, cakes and vegan pizza! Recently, I treated myself to a giant dairy free scone. I have to admit I was a little dubious that it would taste as good as a traditional butter laden one, but that soon changed to delight – it was light and packed full of yummy scone flavour.
I have a bit of a bad scone making history (my children regale with delight the time I used bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder so the scones tasted of wee!!!), but was inspired to attempt to make my own again – both dairy and wee free!
One of the key things about a good scone is the lightness of texture, so I use self-raising flour and add some baking powder for extra lift. A delicate touch seems to be important too when forming and handling the dough; it seems to me that using dairy free margarine as opposed to butter is an advantage here as it is not quite as heavy.
Whenever I make individual scones, something seems to happen in the cutting process and the lightness and air just vanishes in a puff. Fumbling fingers are not good in this scenario. So to be on the safe side, I’ve found it best to make a single batch scone i.e: form the dough into one single round, half cut through to create sections and bake as a whole, cutting it into individual portions later when cooled.
So here is my version of non-dairy scone suitable for afternoon tea – serve with dairy free spread and lashings of your favourite jam.
225g self-raising flour (gluten free blend if needed)
pinch of saltt
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g non-dairy margarine
25g caster sugar
75g raisins (if you want fruit scones
100mls soya milk
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
First, heat your oven to 220oC. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl then add the margarine and rub in to make fine bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can pulse in a blender to get the same texture. Stir in the sugar and raisins, then add the milk a little at a time until you form a soft, kneadable dough. Knead gentle for a minute or so until everything seems combined, then form into a single batch. Using a large knife, cut through the dough half way, first down the centre, then at the sides to create 6 sections. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and brush with a little soya milk and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (if you’re not vegan then brush with egg as it’s a better glaze – soya milk doesn’t brown as well). Once cooked, cool on a wire tray, then cut into individual portions when you’re ready for afternoon tea!