Downton Abbey Season 3 is finally delighting US devotees and what better way to enjoy the Crawley family drama than with your own tea time. Sunday evenings are the perfect time to brew a pot of Earl Grey, bake a batch of delicious Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones, and watch the story unfold.
Scones have earned a bad reputation for being high-maintenance, but don’t be intimidated by these pastries. Even if you don’t have Mrs. Patmore and Daisy working their culinary magic in your kitchen, scones are well within your baking grasp.
Dorie Greenspan is one of my favorite baking gurus. For this simple, hearty scone, I adapted a recipe from Dorie’s cookbook Baking: From My Home To Yours. Nutmeg is the perfect compliment to this buttermilk based scone. Oats offer texture and depth to an otherwise light crumb.
I used brown sugar because the strong, caramel flavors taste wonderful with nutmeg. If you can, use freshly grated nutmeg.
Using a food processor to cut in the butter takes much of the guess work out of scone making. Add all the dry ingredients, give an initial mix, then add cubes of cold butter. Pulse until butter is pea sized and distributed throughout the dry ingredients.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and add liquid. I had to add a bit more buttermilk to my dough to get the right consistency. If your dough seems too dry, add liquid one tablespoon at a time. You will get lovely scones every time.
Serve scones with jam, lemon curd, or a pat of butter. So, even if Mr. Bates never makes it out of prison you can drown your tears in a warm Oatmeal Nutmeg Scone and the Dowager’s humor.
Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
A subtle sweetness compliments the earthy oatmeal texture. Try them with a slice of cheese or a dollop of raspberry preserves.
1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 T) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together. Set aside.
Put the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Drop in the butter and pulse until the mixture is pebbly with pea sized pieces of butter. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
If mixing by hand: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.
Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Add buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough isn’t coming together.
Gently knead the dough while still in the bowl, shaping it into a ball. Divide the ball in half and turn one half out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a rough circle that’s about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other half.
At this point, you can freeze the scones. Add two minutes to baking time for frozen scones.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.