Healthier Banana Date Scones
Vegan, Low Sugar
I am coming up on my 10 year college reunion and, aside from the small “holy crap I am so old” moment, I am awash in nostalgia.
I went to Skidmore College in the lovely Saratoga Springs, NY. Saratoga was an unreal college town, but the bit that really shaped me was the first semester of my freshman year. I spent it with 36 other freshmen in London, UK.
After the initial terror wore off, that 3 or so months become some of the best in my life. I dream of the number 9 bus, Borough Market, the British Museum and, of course, high tea. And you cannot have high tea without scones.
I will say that for me scones are usually only as good as the topping you put on them. When they are good, they are great. But when they are just a little off, it is just such a bummer.
Of course, I wanted to try and make a healthier take on the scone that is also full of flavor, with or without toppings.
Let’s talk wet ingredients.
Most scone recipes call for 1/2 a cup of butter or some sort of fat. While I do love butter, I wanted to make this version with less fat. When you take away fat, you need to boost the moisture. Enter the dates and bananas. Bananas and dates provide both moisture and sweetness (which means we can pare back the added sugar as well).
Now, you can’t take the fat completely out; baking is chemistry and it needs fat. Instead of butter or shortening, I opted for oil and tahini. The oil will provide more moisture, while the tahini gives a boost of flavor and protein.
Feel free to use whatever nut or seed butter you like, just make sure that it a runnier one (like natural almond butter).
And now those dry ingredients.
While I normally bake with gluten-free flours; every now and then I will bake with gluten. When I do, I only baking with whole wheat flour (always unbleached). You get a deeper flavor and it’s more nutritious than your straight white flour.
So, there’s a new flour that I have been playing around with: Kamut flour. This one choice came from my cooking curiosity. I spend far too much time perusing the grocery aisles, reading different labels and wondering what I can do with it. Kamut or Khorasan wheat is an ancient grain, high in protein and packed with antioxidants. So why not add it to the mix? If you can’t find this flour, don’t sweat; substitute with spelt flour. If you want to make it gluten-free, use gluten-free oat flour, but omit the rolled oats.
For flavorings, I like to add a little bit of ground coffee and cinnamon. The two of these give a nice, deep roasted flavor and just a little bit of spice from the cinnamon. You can also add little bit of ground ginger to give just a little bit more som-something.
Time to make the scones!
3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/4 cup kamut flour (you can also use spelt flour)
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp ground coffee
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup chopped cashews
1 large super ripe banana
1/3 cup chopped Deglet-Noor dates (about 6-7 dates)
3 tbsp avocado or olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp almond milk + 1 tbsp coconut sugar for topping scones, mixed together
Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In a small bowl, soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes (this will make them easier to blend).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, rolled oats, flax, coconut sugar, coffee, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cashews.
Drain the dates from the water. In a food processor, add the dates, banana, oil and tahini and blend until smooth. Add the almond milk and blend again.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until the flour is absorbed and you get a dough that holds it shape, but isn’t too dry.
Divide dough into 6 parts, shape into thick discs. Slice an “X” into the top of each disc with a sharp knife. Brush with the almond milk and coconut sugar mixture.
Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the tops start to turn a darker golden brown. Enjoy warm with a schemer of vegan cream cheese.