Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lighter Oatmeal Scones

When I see the word "oatmeal", I think "healthy", regardless of the reality.  Somehow, "oatmeal" cookie sounds better for me than "chocolate chip"!  The facts tell a different story (A lot of oatmeal cookie recipes have more butter and sugar than chocolate chip!), but I still don't feel very bad about eating an oatmeal cookie for breakfast, but chocolate chip?  Well, now you're really backsliding:)
The cold hard facts really came to light when I made the Cook's Illustrated oatmeal scones!  They were, without doubt, one of the two best scones I've ever made (the other containing bacon and cheddar cheese), but they also called for a LOT of butter (10 Tbl. to make 8 scones!), cream, white flour, and an egg for good measure!  Sometimes calories and fat are SO worth it, but for oatmeal?  Oatmeal should at least resemble something good for you!
Surely there was a way to make these delicious breakfast treats a bit lighter so they could be enjoyed more than once a year on say, maybe, one's birthday!  These oatmeal scones were light and moist and had a great oat-y flavor.  The butter did add a lot!  After some thinking, I came up with this recipe.  It doesn't use butter at all, but instead it makes use of heavy cream!  Don't roll your eyes!  Cream contains less than 1/2 the fat of butter, but adds moistness and lots of great dairy flavor!  I also got rid of the egg yolk, so less cholesterol.  I did use it, thinned with a bit of water, to brush the scones for a nice browning, but eight scones didn't use more than a teaspoon or so of the egg wash.  Some ground flax seed was added, along with whole wheat pastry flour and lowfat buttermilk.  Healthy-wise, the scone was practically transformed, but how did it taste compared to the delicious calorie-bomb from Cook's Illustrated?  They came out really good!  Moist and oat-y, I think you won't even miss the butter!  These are a real breakfast treat that are high in fiber and much lower in cholesterol and fat.  Good morning! :)

Lighter Oatmeal Scones (makes 8)
1.5 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 egg white
1 cup heavy cream
1.25 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup sugar, plus a teaspoon or so for sprinkling
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbl. water

Heat the oven to 375F.  Put the oats on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 9-12 minutes, until they are brownish and fragrant.  Set aside to cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 450F.
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk the buttermilk, egg white, and cream together in a small bowl.  In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients well, including the cooled oats, but reserve about 2 Tbl. oats.  Add the cream mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.  Don't overmix.  A wooden spoon works well for this.
On a clean tea towel dusted with the reserved oats, pat the dough out into a 7-inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Brush the cut circle with the egg yolk / water mixture and sprinkle it with just a bit of sugar.  Set the wedges onto the parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned.  Allow to cool a bit before enjoying with some good coffee!
NoteInteresting comparison of the amount of fat, calories, and cholesterol contributed by heavy cream vs. the recipe using butter (per scone):
Butter added:  125 calories, 14 g fat, and 38 mg cholesterol
Heavy cream added:  52 calories, 5.5 g fat, and 21 mg cholesterol 


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