A long, arduous process for a short recipe with time-dependent success:
My friend Michaela sent me an email that went something like this:
You have to try these biscuits (and then tweak them the way you do):
4 cups bisquick
2 tablespoons melted buttah
1/4 turbinado sugah
12 oz cheap beer (use Bud, it’s the best for this.)
Mix all together, and plop into well greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.
Now, I trust this person. And I thought hey, couldn’t you just plop the dough onto a baking sheet and essentially get scones?
But after once writing an article which required testing enough recipes to use more than two boxes’ worth of Bisquick in a day, I can’t look at the stuff. “Real buttermilk?” Not so much. Real buttermilk is liquid.
So I played with her recipe, the way I do, substituting Bob’s Red Mill‘s wholesome multigrain pancake mix. And I’d recently received a windfall of Dry Soda (the best soda in the world, by the way), and had been meaning to try cooking or baking with it a bit. Plus, this is not a Budweiser household. My husband is a beer snob, and proud of it. So I substituted Dry’s lavender flavor for the beer, envisioning easy, fluffy scones with a hint of lavender.
I did all of this on Sunday morning, before my garden extravaganza, in about ten minutes, deciding at the last minute to add some cherries (okay, so maybe fifteen minutes, if you’re slow at pitting cherries). I took my scone out onto the porch, reading David Sedaris’s latest piece in The New Yorker and cherishing the blue early morning light.
I enjoyed my scone, and then another, even though there wasn’t even the faintest hint of lavender to them.
There is a fine line between baked goods made more wholesome with whole grains and baked goods whose wholesomeness makes them no longer any good. These cherry scones were right on the line, but at the time, I thought they were pretty good, so I innocently doled them out to neighbors and passers by and, well, just about the whole neighborhood.
Then sometime in the middle of the afternoon, I broke into one, only to discover that Bisquick’s preservatives, which presumably made Michaela’s similar baked goods last a day or two, had not been on active duty in my own hippie dippie version. I was now the proud owner of Cherry-Not Lavender Whole Wheat Hockey Pucks.
So. I did my best to put out of my mind the possibility that my scone victims hadn’t eaten them while still warm. I decided to classify them as a failure, and either try not to post the recipe or work on them again, when I had the emotional energy to face a Bisquick box or a class on pastry preservation.
Then this evening, on a day when I’d procrastinated my recipe writing to the very last thing, more failures: I bought cherries, intending to make a cherry buckle after tasting a deconstructed blueberry buckle at a restaurant event. But when I looked it up, I realized I’d confused a buckle (cake and fruit) with a slump (biscuit topping and fruit), and I was so disappointed that any combination of those old New England fruit recipes suddenly turned me off.
I dug out some parsnips from the farmers’ market, simmered them like carrots in water and butter and glazed them with port. Guess what? Yellow plus purple equals vomit color. Should have learned that in one quarter of art class in 7th grade. And mushy. They’re still sitting on the counter, waiting for their sentence.
Suddenly I felt like I had very little time before midnight and no real recipe plan, which is unusual for me. So I returned to the scones, becuase I’m stubborn like that (and I had the cherries). I bought Bisquick, cursing myself at the checkout counter. I made the scones with beer this time, a hefeweizen, ignoring the obvious oddity that I was essentially making beer scones, for breakfast, late at night. (Beer and cherries, isn’t that a traditional breakfast combination in . . .?) In went the cherries and this time, walnuts.
Oh my. They look so American, so Wonder Bread. Definitely not the drying British scone, more like a . . .well, more like a pancake with body fat and bad make-up, a good ol’ Red State scone. (A joke, of course.) And though I’m sure they’ll still be as squishy and delicious in the morning, the flavor they’re missing, dear reader, is that of real, whole wheat.
With some trepidation, here is a recipe with many options – you be the judge. I’d say use the Bob’s Red Mill and the Dry Soda and just eat them hot.
Not such a good night in the kitchen. Sigh.
Recipe for Quick Americanized Scones with Cherries and Walnuts
Recipe 155 of 365
Though the origin of this recipe is uncertain, my friend Michaela sent me the basic proportions. If you prefer a muffin-shaped biscuit, bake them a few minutes longer, in well-greased muffin tins.
TIME: 10 to 15 minutes active time
MAKES: a baker’s dozen
4 cups Bisquick or whole-grain pancake mix
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups beer or lightly carbonated soda, such as Dry Soda
2 cups pitted, halved cherries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper, or grease a 12-cup muffin tin, and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the baking mix, butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and beer or soda until combined. (The dough will be fairly wet.) Fold in the cherries and walnuts, and drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto the baking sheet (or into the muffin tins). Sprinkle the tops with more of the sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.