I’m trying to give my cookbooks some love these days. I have a tendency to get side tracked by all the tasty looking food I see on the many amazing food blogs I subscribe to, and forget all about my cookbooks. I brought my favourites with me from Vancouver to Stockholm, and I’ve recently added a bunch to my collection, but still, I mainly look online for recipe inspiration. Why is that?
Part it, I think, stems from being a food blogger myself, and having only so many hours on the weekend within which I can make and photograph something to post in the coming weeks, so I want to make something I’d also feel comfortable with posting here. I’m reasonably well versed in copyright laws when it comes to recipes, and I know that a list of ingredients is not a copyrightable thing, only the creative writing its self. So, food bloggers are well within their rights to make a recipe from a published cookbook and post it, so long as they’re using their own photos and writing up the instructions and preamble themselves. It’s also just plain good manners to credit the original source, with links if they are available. Still, I feel bad for cookbook authors and publishers because these days, inevitably, their work will be splashed all over the net by bloggers and anyone can access it for free. On the flip side, many of the cookbooks on my shelf I now own because some food blogger or another highlighted one or two recipes from the book, waxed poetic about it, and I wanted a copy for myself. So, are food bloggers helping or hindering the cookbook industry? I dunno.
I try to put myself in the author’s shoes and imagine how I’d feel if my work was splashed around the web. I’ve found my photographs, original recipes, and word for word writing cut and paste onto other blogs before, and it sucks! This isn’t my livelihood, though, but I hope beyond hope that one day it may be, so I can only imagine how much more it would sting if it were. Here’s how I wrap my head around posting recipes from published cookbooks: 1. Email the publisher and ask permission. I did this back when I posted about Vij’s Cauliflower Steak – I actually emailed about a different recipe and the publisher replied with a list of approved recipes and a permission tag line. 2. Post a recipe that is already online, rather than choosing a new one. These maple oat scones, for example were posted ages ago over on Smitten Kitchen. 3. Credit, credit, credit. I always credit the original source, post links back, and if possible, post a link to where you can buy the cookbook for yourself. It makes me feel better. How do you deal with this issue?
I woke up a few weekends ago and realized I had all the ingredients in my kitchen for these maple oat scones. I made them, photographed them, and contemplated my navel while they were baking. And folks? They were a disaster. Inedible, ugly, hard as rocks disasters which had to be chucked down our garbage chute. I re-read the recipe and thought about why. Turns out, it was all my fault. 1. I tinkered with the recipe. I tried to bump up the proportion of whole grain flour, and I just shouldn’t have. 2. I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough. The author calls for a very heaped tablespoon of baking powder, and she means it. She also directs the home baker to place the scones very close together on the baking sheet, so they are just about touching. Why? The scones will bake together and poof up and the insides will stay very tender. I did not do that. And 3. I rolled the dough out waaaaaay too thin. The result? Rocks.
Round two, I followed the recipe to a T. I used the suggested proportions (to the gram) of whole wheat and all purpose flour, I *heaped* my tablespoon of baking powder, I patted out a much thicker dough, and I placed the scones very close together on the tray. The result? Fabulous, puffy, tender, mapley, oatey scones, amazing hot out of the oven with some melting butter and a drizzle of good maple syrup or a smear of jam. The lesson? Read carefully, follow instructions, and tinker less.
Maple Oat Scones Recipe:
These are a great, sturdy, weekend scone recipe. They have a good portion of whole grain without being all in your face about it, and a delicate crumb.
The recipe says it will make 10-12 scones. My first go-around I ended up with 13 rocks. The next time only 7 thick, fluffy scones. 10 may be reasonable, 12 (or 13!) is definitely not.
Recipe From: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea
260g (1 3/4 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
80g (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
35g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
1 *very heaped* Tbsp baking powder (I used nearly 1.5 Tbsps)
1 very heaped Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt (I skipped this)
160g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter (I used salted) cut into pieces
4 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 200 C / 400 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter, and use your fingers to work it into the flour mix until it resembles the texture of rice.
In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup and milk. Pour over flour mixture, and use a fork, then your hands, to just barely bring the mixture together. Don’t over work it!
Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured counter and pat into a rectangle about 3cm thick. Using a 5cm cookie cutter (I used a glass) cut the dough into rounds, and place them onto the prepared tray so that they are almost touching. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly golden. Scones will have stuck together, so pull them gently apart.
Enjoy warm with butter and preserves, or a drizzle of good maple syrup.
Know what you’re eating: what’s good about this? Oats are rich in indigestible carbohydrates called beta-glutens which help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Oats are also host to a number of phenolic compounds which have antioxidant properties, are helpful in stabilizing blood sugar, and are a good source of dietary fiber and protein. Whole wheat flour, with the bran and germ intact, is a significantly better source of fiber and nutrients than all purpose flour, which has had those parts of the grain removed. But! Don’t be fooled! These scones have some great components, but that doesn’t make them scones any less. The butterfat content is very high, as is the proportion of all purpose flour. These are treats, and should be eaten with moderation. Damage control: Enjoy your scones as a weekend treat! Then do some weekday damage control. How about a batch of these no sugar banana bran muffins? (source)
Do ahead: Scones can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, covered tightly, for a couple of days, or frozen, unbaked for up to a month. Just pull them out of the freezer and let them thaw before baking. It’s better to freeze them unbaked, as baked scones will dry out in the freezer.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012