It's really feeling like winter--at Seward Park today, the trees looked distressingly barren. I read a science feature on NPR recently that said leaves don't really fall from trees--they're pushed off in order to preserve the tree. Turns out the tree is much more proactive than just waiting for the wind to come along.
When I think about change, the cliché is true--change is the only thing that's constant. But it's also true that life is sometimes preserved when we meet change head-on, when we don't wait around for that last big gust of wind before taking charge. Lately, I've been living in the middle of this paradox. I have zero control of the cosmic things (life, death, destiny) but tons of control in my day-to-day and moment-to-moment choices. And one thing the seasons teach me is that everything in life is seasonal, especially for women and mothers. If it's horrible, it will get better. If things are wonderful, those seasons end, too.
No matter what season you're in--winter, spring, summer, or fall--warm scones in the morning might help you navigate it. Growing up, I'd often wake up to the smell of my mom baking in the kitchen. I remember lying in bed, wondering what she'd made and soaking in a few minutes of calm before my carpool or school bus or rounding up homework. Isn't it funny? I thought I had worries then. I wish I could go back to Little Sarah and tell her that algebra test wasn't worth all the angst.
I've been making some version of these scones for years and am more and more satisfied with them every time. I've made them for baby showers; potlucks in graduate school; early morning meetings in my office days; and now for my kids who have little worries of their own. Bring it on, wintertime. We're ready.
Oat Fruit Scones
Adapted from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri. He uses raisins, which are actually quite good in these--makes them taste like big, soft oatmeal raisin cookies. I'm not normally a raisin fan, but make an exception for these. I like to bake mine in a round and cut them apart after removing them from the oven. The tops are crisp, but the sides are still totally tender. Quicker, too.
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. oats
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 ts. baking soda
1 ts. salt
8 Tb. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 c. coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. coarsely chopped prunes
1 c. buttermilk, plus more for brushing tops
1 Tb. sugar mixed with 1/4 ts. ground cinnamon
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450.
Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 times.
Cut the butter into 12 pieces, add to the bowl, and pulse 12 times, until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the dried fuit and cup of milk and pulse 3 or 4 times to form a very soft dough.
Generously flour your work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and fold it over on itself 3 or 4 times, until it is less sticky.
Make one large disc and cut it into 8-12 wedges (don't separate them) or make two discs, cutting each into 4 or 6 wedges, depending on how big you want your scones. Brush top with buttermilk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake scones for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden and firm. Be careful not to overbake.