I’ve been dreaming about these scones for the past year. If the phrase fig butter doesn’t entice you, what will? Figs are naturally sticky-sweet. In this recipe dried figs are poached in a mixture of red wine, port, and spices. Buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat and is entirely gluten free. The slight sourness of the buckwheat actually enhances the sweetness of the fig butter, and the delicate purple hue of the flour makes the finished scones absolutely beautiful.
Since I knew these would be a project, this seemed like an ideal recipe for a baking date with my friend Sarah. It was wonderful to have a friend in the kitchen for so many reasons. I tend to approach gf baking with a low-level of anxiety and a commitment to precision. Gluten free baking can be expensive and seems to lend itself to disaster. This doesn’t have to be the case, of course, but it is so upsetting to gather together high-quality ingredients only to be disappointed by the final result. Fortunately, Sarah comes from the other end of the spectrum. When the dough felt too dry, we optimistically agreed to pour more cream in until the texture felt right. When I neglected to let the wine and fig mixture cool before blending it with the butter, we tossed it into the fridge for a few minutes and assumed it would be fine. It was better than fine—it was delicious!
If you’re not fortunate enough to have a friend in the kitchen with you, it’s worth making the fig butter in advance. I would probably store it at room temperature overnight and make the dough the next day. It took a little while for the syrup to turn amber, but the most important thing is not to let it burn. Once the wine and port were simmering, the rest was easy. I still have a jar of leftover fig butter that is great on toast and may even end up in some homemade fig newtons in the future.
As for the dough, you can take your cold butter from the fridge and use a grater to help create the grainy texture you’re working towards. Nothing works as well as rubbing it between your fingers to fully incorporate it into the flour mixture. It’s okay to leave some small lumps of butter in the dough. Sarah taught me to use a sifter to create an evenly floured surface, and that’s a trick I will keep with me. We used measuring tape to measure the dimensions of our dough. It sounds silly, but it helped us form pinwheels that matched the dimensions in the recipe so we could trust the cooking time. Spreading the butter and rolling the log was straightforward. Since they are best right out of the oven, we only baked ½ of the recipe and saved ½ of the dough for later.
The final result was gratifyingly sweet, with a pastry that crumbled like cookies and rich fig-and-spice spiraling throughout. A year of dreaming about them and they were definitely worth the wait!
Figgy Buckwheat Scones via 101 Cookbooks
Reprinted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce