Ann and I always meet at the coffee shop. There, our toddlers used to puzzle over Traffic Jam. There, our husbands used to argue over the news. It’s where we slouched, years ago, when I told her we were moving. When I’m back in town we still meet at the coffee shop, and this time she told me she was moving too.
We split a scone, gritty and satisfying. It was gritty. That’s buckwheat, cousin to tart rhubarb and bitter sorrel. It grows in tough conditions — poor soil, tight spaces, steep cliffs. It has the texture of dry sand and the color of wet sand. It’s a survivor.
We talked about the moves, the husbands, the former toddlers now negotiating real traffic jams. We broke off bites of buckwheat but left the scone’s crown of raspberry jam. Maybe next time we’ll feel like something sweet.
Prep: 25 minutes. Bake: 20 minutes. Makes: About 12 scones
3⁄4 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons sugar
3⁄4 cup buckwheat flour
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon fine salt
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
Buzz: Measure 6 tablespoons of the oats and the sugar into the food processor. Buzz, reducing oats to crumbs. Measure in buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, orange zest, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Pulse once or twice to combine.
Cut-in: Drop in butter. Pulse several times to cut in butter, stopping when the largest butter bits are about the size of peas.
Mix: Slide buckwheat mixture into a large bowl. With a fork, mix in remaining 6 tablespoons rolled oats. Drizzle on cream, tossing with a fork; dough will come together in large clumps that stick together readily when pressed. Add a few more drops cream if need be.
Roll: Scoop up 1⁄4-cup dough and roll into a ball; set on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, shaping 12 balls. Leave about 4 inches between balls; you may need more than one sheet.
Fill: Press a thumb into each ball. Fill indent with about 1 teaspoon jam.
Brush sides with a little cream. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake: Slide baking sheets into a 350-degree oven and bake until just set, 18-20 minutes. Delicious warm or room temperature.
The recipe is adapted from the Floriole Cafe & Bakery, Chicago.