I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for over a month now, but something has been holding me back. I keep asking myself “do we really need another scone recipe in the world?”. If it were up to me, the answer would be yes. Scones are a great “get your feet wet” sort of project for those fearful of baking. There are no special tools, or pans, required, and the technique is very easy. Just mix some dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, etc.), rub them together with very cold bits of butter, and stir in a mixture of egg and buttermilk. In less than 30 minutes, from start to finish, you’ve got a rather satisfying breakfast, in my little ‘ol opinion.
What I love best about scones is their chameleon-like quality. Take your favorite recipe, strip it of the “extras”—nuts, dried fruits, citrus zest, and swap in what you like to make a new version. Hate pistachios (who are you, exactly?), then use walnuts or almonds instead. Ran out of lemons, go ahead and zest some clementines for a twist. Scones are a great way to play with new flavor combinations, and developing your palate is the second step to becoming comfortable with freeing yourself from recipes. Learning technique is the first step, whether it’s how to cream butter, or how to sear beef.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today for banana, walnut & white chocolate chunk scones was inspired by not wanting an overripe banana to go to waste. Three overripe bananas mean banana bread is in our future. Give me two overripe bananas, and I can always tweak my recipe for brown butter walnut muffins, but one banana? What exactly is a gal to do with one, lonely overripe banana sitting on the counter? Oh yes, I know I can freeze it in a plastic bag, and thaw it out when I have one or two more ready to use….not. I’ve tried that more times than I care to confess, and I always forget about them, until I set about purging the freezer. In which case, the single, sad bananas get tossed anyway.
This is where my love for scones saved me. One morning I woke up with some time to spare. I decided to surprise the kids with a warm batch of scones for breakfast. I wanted to make something new, though, and my eyes wandered to one, lonesome looking banana covered in brown dots. It was an “a ha!” moment. I plucked the jar of walnuts from the shelf, scooped out a handful, and chopped them up.
I don’t particularly like eating white chocolate, but baking with it is a whole other story. Buy good-quality white chocolate, if possible. It really does make a difference. Luckily for me, Sahadi’s in Brooklyn sells the Guittard discs (Guittard calls them wafers).The white chocolate melts into these scones, and caramelizes, studding the scones with toasty, toffee-like flavors. I have to thank Kamel, the incredible baker at Il Buco for opening my eyes to the virtues of baking with white chocolate. If you ever find yourself in Soho, you must stop by Il Buco Alimentari and get a white chocolate brioche.
You know what I love most about using up overripe bananas? It’s a great reminder that there’s always a way to make the most of a bad situation. Now, of course a few past-their-prime bananas aren’t a true tragedy, but sometimes these little reminders help keep me focused. So, even if the world doesn’t need another scone recipe, surely we need more recipes for using up orphaned bananas beyond banana bread, right?
Music Pairing: The Tra La La Song by Liz Phair
p.s. I decided to start a new Pinterest Board devoted to bananas, so if you’re a “pinner”, please tag your recipes #GoingBananas so I can find them and share the love for all things bananas, especially overripe ones!
1/4 cup (62 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) buttermilk
1 large (50 grams) egg
1 very ripe banana, well-mashed
1 cup (138 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup (140 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fine sea salt
1/2 cup (52 grams) walnuts, chopped
4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 teaspoon (6 grams) coarse natural cane sugar, optional
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a fork, lightly beat a 1/4 cup of buttermilk, egg and banana together in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
Add the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a deep medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine. Scatter the butter on top of the dry ingredients and rub together quickly with your fingers, until it forms a sandy-looking texture with some pebble-sized pieces.
Stir in the walnuts and chocolate.
Pour in the buttermilk-egg mixture, and use a fork to stir together until it forms a crumbly-looking dough, and the flour is mostly absorbed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Knead it once or twice to give the dough a smoother appearance. Divide the dough in half, and shape it into two 1/2-inch thick circles. Use a sharp knife to cut each circle into 6 triangles (as if cutting a pizza).
Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of buttermilk and sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar, if using. Bake for 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and set the tray on a wire rack to cool a few minutes before serving. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container and heated in the toaster the next day.