Maple-Walnut Oatmeal Scones and the Dos & Don’ts of Sledding in Prospect Park

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DO:  Arrive at Prospect Park’s most prime sledding hill one and a half hours before school lets out.

DON’T:  Use the center of the sledding path to walk back up the hill.  That’s sledding 101.

DO:  Allow rosy faced cherubs a full 30 second window to build their nerve – before you cut ahead of them.

DON’T:  Stare oddly at the only couple of thirty-somethings who are there, sans children.

DO:  Choose one of the other 28 acres of park land to build your Park Slope snowperson with your home schoolers.  The foot of the most prime sledding hill is likely not a smart choice.

DON’T:  Purposely steer into 8 year olds who have not yet learned to immediately vacate the foot of the hill at the end of the ride.

DO:  Purposely steer into the Park Slope snowperson.

DON’T:  Wear too many layers.  Using muscles you haven’t needed since grade school makes you sweat.  A lot.

DO:  Make a batch of Maple-Walnut Oatmeal Scones to enjoy with a pot of Darjeeling tea when you return from your adventure.  If you are able to adhere to the above mentioned rules, I may just make a batch for you.

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This was the first recipe I bookmarked when my friend Rebecca gave me the amazing Baking Illustrated (as in Cook’s Illustrated) this past Christmas.  These scones are at once hearty and crumbly and lightly sweet – perfect for tea-time or breakfast.  One bite had me creating entire brunch party menus around them in my head.  Those who prefer a more sugary kick could double the glaze, which my husband would have enjoyed.  I thought they were nearly perfect just as they were.  After one day in an airtight container they lost a bit of their exterior crispness, but the centers remained moist and fresh.

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Glazed Maple-Walnut Oatmeal Scones
adapted from Baking Illustrated, makes 8 scones

1 & 1/2 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (the book calls for pecans)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

For the Glaze

3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Step 1:  Adjust your oven rack to the middle position, and preheat to 375F.  Spread the oats and nuts evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven 7 – 9 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant.  Cool the pan on a wire rack.  Crank up the oven to 450F.  Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  When the nuts and oats have cooled, measure out 2 tablespoons of the oats (for dusting the dough) and set aside.

Step 2:  Whisk the milk, egg, cream and maple syrup in a large measuring cup until incorporated.  Remove 1 tablespoon to a small bowl and reserve for glazing.

Step 3:  Pulse the flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor until combined – about four 1 second pulses.  Scatter the cold butter evenly over the dry ingredients, and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal – about twelve to fourteen 1 second pulses.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the cooled oats and nuts.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the liquid ingredients until large clumps form.  Mix the dough by hand in the bowl until the dough forms a cohesive mass.

Step 4:  Dust your work surface with half the reserved oats and turn the dough onto the work surface, dusting the top with the remaining oats.  Gently pat into a 7-inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Using a scraper or chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges, and place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Brush the surfaces with the reserved egg & milk mixture.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Cool the scones by setting the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then moving the scones individually to the rack until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

Step 5:  Once the scones are cooled to room temperature, whisk the 3 tablespoons of maple syrup together with the confectioner’s sugar.  Working quickly, drizzle the glaze over the scones.  Serve, or store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

A few Dos & Don’ts on baking Maple-Walnut Oatmeal Scones, courtesy Kitty and Cook’s Illustrated:

DO:  Feel free to sub half & half for the whole milk and heavy cream.

DON’T:  Make the glaze in advance, it will turn into icing.  Wait till you are ready to drizzle.  If its not falling freely from your spoon, jiggle your wrist a bit.

DO:  Cut your butter in advance, and refrigerate until ready to use.  The less time the cold butter is in your hands, the better.

DON’T:  Leave the oats and nuts in the oven too long when toasting.  The nuts will scorch quickly, which I learned the hard way.

DO:  Make this recipe the next time you awaken to find this scene outside your Brooklyn window:

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