Meet Me in the Maple Middle: Maple Scones

September 2009

After I decided not to leave Pittsburgh, my former boss at the bakery was quick to have me fill a gap in morning shifts.  At the same time, he was hiring several artisans to remodel the front end of the bakery.  I met the mason, and we were instant pals.  This mason continued to mention the carpenter who I had yet to meet.  “Kristian this…. Kristian that…”  He spoke of this Kristian as if I already knew him.  As Pittsburgh has a pretty small social circle, it began to nag me how I couldn’t place this Kristian.

I was finishing closing out the cash register one afternoon when in walked a man as if he owned the entire bakery.  I was caught off guard by such an audacious entrance, “who did this gentleman think he was?”  Then it occurred to me, this was the Kristian, the carpenter I had tried so hard to picture.  As I suspected, I had met him before…well, we hadn’t met, but we had exchanged a few words.

“Kristian,” I said. “Nice to meet you.  I’ve been hearing so much about you.  We’ve actually met once before.  At the Uno Party when you assumed my dreadlocks had the stereotypical hippy implications, implications which I corrected right away.”

He lured me into “helping” him pull a board across his makeshift table saw, and kept me conversing as long as possible.  I could sense his interest, and he had piqued my interest as well.  After fifteen minutes of detaining his work, I made my exit and parted with, “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

When I arrived at home, I had the little lingering flutters of flirtation, and then I realized something I failed to take into account:  “Sh%$!  Of the two morning workers, I was the one scheduled to leave at 10:00am.  The “I make my own schedule” carpenter had a history of arriving after noon.  Our paths wouldn’t cross after all, and I was looking forward to seeing him in a way I had not foreseen, nor could I fully explain.

So I switched!  I asked the other bakery girl if she wouldn’t mind leaving at 10am.  I probably offered some financial reason of why I needed the extra hours, or she was sleepy enough to seize the napping opportunity.  Either way, it was 10am, and I was alone, totally alone.  The only other worker, the dishwasher, had been in a hurry to leave for vacation and had finished at an unprecedented pace.  This was also a quieter time in the retail morning, so I dove into my nerdy English grammar book and waited.  I didn’t have to wait very long.

I felt my cheeks redden a bit.  The carpenter had come early!  He was there before 11am for the first time in the entire project.  I “helped” him again by holding one side of a board or opening a door or carrying one side of his equipment.  I didn’t have a lot of carpentry experience, but he didn’t seem to be making very much sawdust.  His lunch break also seemed to approach rather quickly and conveniently right at the time when I was finished working.

We took Greek food to a grassy patch in the park.  The wood and tools stayed in exactly the same place for hours until a mildly concerned bakery boss was on the other line of his ancient cell phone, and the woodworker finally had to face the wood.

I stayed late, and he came early, and we’ve been meeting in the middle ever since!

Since I had only been filling a gap in between bakery hiring, I soon had much more free time.  Our summer dates took us on all kinds of adventures, and one thing became especially clear:  Kristian really liked scones!

We would go to the riverfront or the highest point in the county, and scones would just magically appear.  If we were at a food source, and there were scones, he would buy at least one.  I had never made a scone, but if I was going to reach this man’s heart, the food choice was obvious:  scones!

The Recipe:  Maple Scones
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

1/2 cup real, good quality maple syrup
3/4 cup half and half
Lemon zest
Orange zest
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
4 1/2  cups whole-wheat, pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground cinnamon
Nutmeg to taste
Fresh ginger to taste
12oz  unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
pure cane sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees, rack in the top 1/3.   Line one baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the maple syrup and milk in a small cup, and set aside.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

Using a food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture, pulsing until it resembles little pebbles in a beach of sandy flour (about 20 quick pulses). You can also cut the butter into the flour using a knife and fork, or smushing it through your thumb and fingertips.

Now add the maple syrup mixture. Blend until the dough just comes together – don’t over mix. If the batter is too dry add more cream a bit at a time -you want it to hold together without being crumbly.

Turn out onto a floured surface, kneed once or twice, just enough to bring the dough together.

Arrange the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle.

Trim the edges and slice the dough into equal-sized squares.

Arrange the scones next to one another on the prepared baking sheet – 1/4-inch distance between each of them.

Brush generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with the large-grain sugar and cinnamon mixed together.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden along the bottom and tops.

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