Who doesn’t love a Devonshire Tea every now and then? Fresh scones, warm from the oven spread with raspberry jam and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Together with a nice hot cup of tea, brewed of course, it’s one of those English traditions we still hold dear.
That said, it doesn’t pay to serve scones made from good old wheat flour to a family who have become increasingly gluten-sensitive. So, given how much we all love scones, I had to find an alternative recipe. I tried initially to make them using a gluten-free flour blend, and while the texture was great, we weren’t fussed on the taste. Then, thankfully, we discovered that we could all tolerate spelt flour (see note below for properties & benefits), so I hunted high and low for a spelt scone recipe. The one I’m using here is from Jennie Marlow (you can find her excellent ‘Baking with Spelt PDF here).
I was not optimistic, I have to say, about how spelt scones would turn out. However, I’m happy to report they were as good as those made with standard wheat flour. They’re crisp on the outside, with a lovely buttery, flaky interior. And, taste-wise, they’re really no different at all to standard wheat scones.
One thing you need to know though, is that these spelt scones do dry out faster than standard wheat scones, so they really should be enjoyed straight from the oven. Should you have some left-overs (on the same day), simply microwave them on high for 10-15 seconds to warm them up (though they’re not quite as good as fresh). If you only have a small number of mouths to feed, consider freezing half the scone mix (minus the eggs and milk) to use another day.
So, long story short, if you’re sensitive to modern wheat flour, but can tolerate spelt flour, or if you’re just looking to find a healthier alternative to modern wheat, do give these spelt scones a go. I’m absolutely positive you’ll love them!
- 4 cups 500g (1 lb + 1-1/2 oz) white spelt flour
- 4 teaspoons 16g baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon 4.5g sea salt
- 2 tablespoons 25g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1/2 cup 115g (4 oz) cold butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 3/4 cup 175ml milk, buttermilk, goat milk, soymilk or rice milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F). Butter or line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Sift together dry ingredients. Dice the butter and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingers (or a pastry blender) until the mixture is crumbly.* You can also blend the ingredients in a food processor, but use the pulse action to ensure you don’t overmix.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk (take out 2 tablespoons of the mixture for brushing the tops of the scones and put aside), and stir the rest into the dry ingredients until just blended. It’s important you don’t overwork the mixture or the scones will be dense.
- Tip the mixture onto a floured board and knead just a couple of times, adding a little flour as needed (the mixture should be firm enough to hold its shape when cut). Pat into a round that is approximately 1″ (2 cm) thick. Then, using a round cookie cutter (the size is up to you – I used a cutter just shy of 2″ (5 cm) for mine. Then place scones onto prepared baking sheets giving a couple of inches space between them.
- Brush tops of scones with the reserved egg-milk mixture and bake for around 15-20 minutes, or until scones have risen and the tops and bottoms are golden.
Note re spelt flour: Spelt is an ancient grain – 6000 years ancient in fact – with a long list of advantages to its name. It hasn’t been messed about by commercial processing practices, has an impressive array of nutrients, and is much easier to digest than wheat. While it does contain some gluten, that gluten operates very differently to wheat gluten. You see, while wheat gluten gets stronger the more you work it, spelt gluten starts breaking down as you work it – this is what makes it so much easier for us to digest. Many people who can’t eat wheat gluten, can tolerate spelt gluten, though it’s not recommended for those who are coeliac.