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Seasonal persimmon scones, two ways

Recipe: Classic has a twist; non-dairy version is also vegan

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Persimmon chunks add sweetness to two scone variations. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)


Breakfast baking is my favorite way to use fruit in season. November brings gorgeous orange persimmons to market, so I wanted to give the crisp variety, the squat Fuyus, a try in a scone recipe. (The heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons must be mushy-ripe to use in baking.)

So I went looking for recipes that were well-spiced, at least somewhat healthy (for a scone) and featured the fruit nicely. I found two versions that were close enough to each other that I suspect they were adapted from the same original recipe. The major difference: One version is vegan/non-dairy and made with whole-wheat and almond flour. But the more-classic recipe, using butter, also has a twist: A generous portion of ricotta cheese. (That one came from the Electrolux website; I had no idea they offered recipes!)

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This persimmon didn't have seeds. Some do.

When choosing persimmons for this recipe, go for ones that still have some firmness rather than being soft-ripe. They'll be easier to chop and mix. Also watch out for the occasional seed in the middle when coring them -- of 4 persimmons I used, 2 had seeds.

Both recipes bake up nicely; I tried them side by side so they'd have the same baking sheet and oven temperature. The thicker classic version actually baked faster and made an excellent breakfast bread; it would take well to being split and spread with butter or jam.

The vegan scone had a texture closer to muffins than flaky scones -- I'd recommend not splitting it -- and was also very good. Cardamom is the only spice in this one, but it could take additional spices if you like.

Both are just lightly sweet; if you like sweeter scones, add a glaze or sweet topping of your choice.

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Classic on the left, vegan on the right.
.

Whole-wheat persimmon ricotta scones
Adapted slightly from
electroluxappliances.com
Makes 8

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, well-chilled
1 cup cored and chopped Fuyu persimmons (2 of average size)
3/4 cup low fat or whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup half-and-half, plus extra for brushing on top of scones
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Disk of dough is ready to be cut.

Instructions :
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch pieces and add the chunks to the flour mixture, using a pastry blender or two knives to break up the pieces until they are the size of small peas. Stir in the persimmons until well-distributed.

Stir in the ricotta, half-and-half and vanilla, forming a rough dough. Turn the dough, including any dry bits from the bottom of the bowl, onto a flour-covered surface, and knead the dough gently with your hands about 3 or 4 times, until it holds together. Push the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a disk about 1-inch thick.

Use a knife or dough scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges. Transfer the wedges to the prepared pan and brush them lightly with more half-and-half.

Bake the scones 17-20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on rack.


Vegan persimmon almond scones

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Firmer Fuyu persimmons make the chopping easier.

Adapted slightly from scalingbackblog.com
Makes 8

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 natural granulated cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons coconut oil, cold (this time of year it's usually solid, but chill briefly if not)
3/4 cup coconut milk (I used the beverage, not the canned variety), plus a bit more for brushing
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cored and chopped Fuyu persimmons (2 of average size)

Sliced almonds for topping, optional
Turbinado sugar, for topping, optional

Instructions:

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Both varieties of scone, ready to be baked together.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flours, sugar, cardamom, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the solid coconut oil, using a pastry blender or two knives to break up the pieces until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in the persimmons until well-distributed, and add the coconut milk and almond extract. This makes a wetter dough than the classic version above and won't require much blending.

Turn the dough gently onto a pastry-flour-covered surface, and pat it into a disk about 1 inch thick.

Use a knife or dough scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges. Carefully transfer the wedges to the prepared pan and brush them lightly with more coconut milk. Sprinkle on the sliced almonds and turbinado sugar, if using

Bake the scones 22-25 minutes until golden. Cool on rack.



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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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