Brown Butter and Oat Scones & Thoughts on Egypt

by on February 12, 2011

Thursday night I went to bed determined to wake up in the morning and rhapsodize about brown butter and teff flour. Culinary alchemy. A magical Ethiopian grass seed. Then that morning came and something extraordinary happened.

Diane asked to put on the news. “Something’s happened in Eygpt.”

The next four hours I watched. Images, jubilation, dreams. Hardened reporters used to journalizing terrors, suffering, and troubles surrounded by celebration. Exhilaration.  Even though the embedded reporters maintained a professional documentation of everything happening around them, I could feel their watcher’s souls glowing. The day was extraordinary.

In this moment, the importance of writing about food seemed trivial. Not that food isn’t important, or our sharing of recipes and stories isn’t something precious to wrap our hearts around.  But this moment of what had just happened in Egypt superseded all of that.

A peaceful revolution.  Peaceful.  In a land torn and surrounded by violence. Where wills are imposed down the barrel of a gun or through fear of a bombing. The people had the courage to stand up for hope and humanity and demand it be given to them.

The were attacked.  Provocations thrown at them. Fear dangled in front of them.  Over the last 18 days, their courage, heart, and hopes were tested to the limits, but they stood strong. Reporters commented on seeing secret police questioning and opening noting those participating.  If the revolution failed, payback would be a bitch.

Reporters themselves were tossed in jail, only to be later freed due to protestors standing up for the media’s sake and helping protecting them.  The military rolled in on their vehicles of destruction, but instead of imposing terror, remained passive.  Refusing to fire on the people they were supposed to be serving.

Volunteers checked people joining the demonstrations for weapons, helping maintain a revolution that would have brought joy to Ghandi’s heart. At night streets were patrolled by vigilante protectors, keeping ill-meaning scavengers from preying on the chaotic and emotional happenings.

All of this happening was virtually unimaginable a short time ago. Who would have thought in land of one of the oldest societies, facebook, twitter, and the internet would be instrumental in enabling a revolution. Youth who have grown up not even know what hope is, have given it to millions around the world.

We have no personal ties with anyone Egyptian. No connection other than we are all human. And I was struck to the core by what I witnessed. The future is still to be determined. There will be many more struggles and time will determine the significance of the revolution.  But at least for now, hope and joy is spreading through the world.

Since the recipe for Brown Butter and Oat Scones is ready, and it is a damn good recipe, we are still ending this post it. There will be those readers whose care is for the recipes, not our ramblings. And we are cool with that.  Thank you to those have the time and interest in our chatter. Today this just seemed too important not to share.

- Todd


Brown Butter and Oat Scone Recipe

Yield: 8 scones

Total Time: 3 hours

Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce and Amy Scattergood. The teff flour and brown butter  compliment each other so well with their nutty nuances. It is easiest to do the brown butter ahead of time, usually the night before, since it needs to harden up before using in the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (115g) unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 c (85g) Teff Flour
  • 1 c (150g) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1  c (100g) whole Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 c (50g) Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 c (60g) Sugar
  • 2 t (10g) Baking Powder
  • 1 1/4 t (6 g) Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 c (60ml) Heavy Cream
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t (5ml) pure Vanilla Extract
  • heavy cream for brushing
  • sugar, granulated or superfine sugar

Directions:

    at least a couple hours before making dough

    Make Brown Butter

  1. Melt butter in a tall saucepan over  medium heat. Swirl butter occasionally to promote even melting and browning.
  2. Cook until butter is a light caramel color and bottom of pan is covered in dark brown flecks. Butter will have a toasty smell. (Butter will first bubble up and sizzle, then settle down with the solids floating on the surface. Keep cooking until nice and toasty, without burning the solids.)
  3. Pour butter into a wide, shallow dish, scraping the flecks on the bottom of the pan into the butter, and freeze until solid. This can be done a day or more ahead of time.
    Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or rub with butter

    Make Scones

  1. Combine flours, oats, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the chilled brown butter into pea-sized pieces, then add to dry mix. Using your fingers, pinch butter into dry mix until it resembles a coarse meal. (This can all be combined in a food processor as alternative method)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream, egg, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add wet mix into dry mix and stir until just incorporated.
  3. Put dough ball on a well floured surface and pat into a 7" wide by 1" thick disk.   Cut into 8 wedges.
  4. Place wedges on baking sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Brush with a couple light coats of heavy cream, then sprinkle sugar over wedges. Bake for until the edges of the scones have browned nicely, about 28-34 minutes.  The scones are better slightly over-baked than under-baked.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kalynskitchen February 12, 2011 at 7:35 am

Great post! I like your writings *and* the recipe.

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2 Tracy Grant February 12, 2011 at 7:41 am

Beautiful thoughts and photos. Thank you.

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3 Lori @ Lemons and Lavender February 12, 2011 at 8:04 am

What a way to start my day! Well done on both counts.

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4 Lauren February 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

Lovely. Your words, photos, everything. So glad it was the first thing I read this morning :).

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5 Gosia February 12, 2011 at 8:28 am

The writing satisfied my heart with the emotions it evoked and the scones played nicely on my visual senses. Such an inspiring read, it brought back memories of the 1988 Solidarity movement that ended communism in Poland, the will for freedom that eventually had all Eastern Europe freed from that tyranny. Indeed, the feeling of jubilation is so wonderfully hopeful and promising. I love that the Egyptian people can finally experience how freedom feels.

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6 White on Rice Couple February 12, 2011 at 11:41 am

There was an ex-Parliament member who was interviewed on the streets, talking about previously not daring to dream. Now the world has changed for them.
“I will teach my children to dream. … To dream is to live,” tears of joy choking him as he spoke.

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7 Lori February 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Delicious photos!
Having no personal ties to Egypt I found myself being an armchair spectator over the last few weeks and at this moment I could not be more happy for or proud of the Egyptian people for standing their ground! I also found myself wondering if we ( the U.S. ) could have accomplished the same so gracefully under similar circumstances. Thank you for sharing

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8 Diana February 12, 2011 at 8:51 am

Great post Todd, I totally echo your feelings. Yesterday morning a woman who is from Egypt called City Hall and I got to talk to her about her fears for her family and worries for the future of her country. I’ve been passionate about social justice for quite a while but actually talking to someone with emotional ties to the situation makes those feelings even stronger. They still have a long road ahead of them and I pray that their government is now set up in a way that is beneficial to their people and to the world. It’s so exciting and mind blowing to see the power of social media (and not weapons) beating corruption.

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9 White on Rice Couple February 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

Hearing and seeing the Egyptian and Egyptian/Americans which spoke on MSNBC that day was what branded the experience into my heart. Jubilation and hope aren’t nearly well enough words to describe it.

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10 Lauren at KeepItSweet February 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thank you so much for posting this. It is such an important subject right now and I am glad you addressed it on your blog! Oh and of course your scones look delicious:-)

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11 Andrea Meyers February 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

I’ve been following the events in Egypt for the last few weeks, worrying for friends who were there while not knowing if things would turn violent. My perceptions of the revolution are tainted from my years of living in the Middle East, and while part of me desperately wanted to see the protesters achieve their goals, I’ve worried that an abrupt transition would leave a gaping hole of instability in its wake, which could turn out worse than what they’ve been living in for so many years. But this is what it takes: the citizens standing up to say enough is enough, taking the governance of their country back into the hands of the people, and working together to build a better future for themselves. I hope that they will be able to accomplish that.

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12 White on Rice Couple February 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

I was continually surprised by the civility and drive of the people during their revolution. Protecting one another, and outsiders as well. Religion didn’t matter. Violence wasn’t a solution. I too hope this breath of humanity will fill their lungs and guide them into a better future.

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13 Danielle February 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

Great words, fantastic photos and an amazing recipe I’d just love to try :)

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14 sarah February 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

thank you for that, todd.
by the way, did diane style those tiny butterfoam hearts into the second photo?! :D

(browned butter, the one next to the melting butter?)

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15 White on Rice Couple February 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

No, they were coincidental. I had just shifted some of the foam to the side so the underlying flecks would be visible. Love must have been in the air. ;)

Todd

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16 Sharlene February 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

Such a beautiful reflection on a world-changing and history-making moment. A gorgeous scone is just the cherry on top.

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17 sonia February 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

Awesome oatmeal scones….i have never tried to make this, but really inspired from ur post and will try it soon… !

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18 Sunni February 12, 2011 at 11:44 am

Thanks you for your beautiful words and of course your recipes!

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19 Nicole February 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Thank you for your thoughts and your recipes.

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20 moowiesqrd February 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

NPR blares in my lab, so as I go about my day, I’m marveling at how the day seems so normal and, yet, I’m a distant spectator to revolution. Say what we will about social media and journalistic media, but they’ve made so many things possible and passed along a testament to the power of humanity, hope, and courage.

And the scones look absolutely delicious. :)

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21 Sonya February 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I just discovered your blog and I’m already smiling and contemplating a scone recipe.

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22 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) February 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Both the scones and your thoughts are very much appreciated!

Thank you for making your blog a place of beautiful food AND a place where bigger topics than how many miles you just ran are discussed :)

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23 Shaina February 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Food made with love. I say Egypt and scones go perfectly together.

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24 Jennifer February 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

What is the jam you have next to the scones – lemon marmalade?

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25 White on Rice Couple February 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Jennifer- it’s orange marmalade.

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26 Matt February 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Go Egypt! Brown butter scones sound amazing. One more scone recipe to add to the list, right behind gingerbread and before new zealand girdle scones. Something tells me pomegranate molasses would go great with these.

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27 Jessica @ How Sweet February 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Wonderfully said!

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28 Angela (Oh She Glows) February 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I think what truly makes a blog come alive are those intimate moments or thoughts that are shared when you least expect it. The food and recipes are always wonderful, but being able to connect to words or feelings is enjoyable on another level. Great photos…I esp. love the one of the melted butter pouring into the bowl. The lighting is gorgeous.

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29 Laura February 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

What beautiful thoughts on all that has happened in Egypt. This is a truly historic moment and I’m glad to see bloggers giving it some airtime alongside the usual content. Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts!

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30 Stephanie February 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Todd and Diane,
Thank you for this lovely meditation. I think you captured what many of us have been feeling, and integrated it in a way that was lovely and inspiring, as your blog always is.
Peace.

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31 Cookin' Canuck February 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm

We have been watching the scenes in Egypt since the protests started and have been struck by the passion of the people and their determination to make a better life for their families and neighbors. The next months will be telling for them and we can only hope that the situation will be resolved with relative peace.

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32 thecookingteacher February 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I’m not much of a watcher of TV or reader of the news in an effort to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the sad and scary things that often dominate them both. Although I knew what was going on in Egypt I really enjoyed your thoughts on it and you’ve inspired me to look further into this happy news which is so rare.

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33 sarakata February 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you~ your post brought tears to my eyes. Egypt is definitely going through a lot, and even though our only ties are that we are all human, it’s heart warming to know that that’s enough. :)

The scones look delish too! :D

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34 Nisrine|Dinners & Dreams February 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Great post. Egypt is a country I feel a strong connection to and I certainly hope for better days ahead for its people.

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35 Andrea February 13, 2011 at 12:25 am

Beautiful beautiful photography!

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36 Marion Montgomery February 13, 2011 at 8:14 am

I was curious to see your thoughts on Egypt. You are wonderful with your words, describing what you see and feel about the peaceful overthrow of one of the more brutal regimes. There is hope and courage in the world now. It is in the hands of the military, the status quo and the freedom fighters now and we watch to see the outcome.

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37 a frog in the cottage February 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

yummy, brown butter has that delicious hazelnut flavour, simply irresistible !!

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38 Gina SuuperG Stark February 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Thank you! I believe you echoed the sentiments of many of us, even those of us considering how to honor this spectacular event in words on our own blogs, but I could certainly not have conveyed the events and the joy so eloquently. Thank you again. G

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39 Nancy-SpicieFoodie February 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The more I explore your website the more I fall in love with it. Beautiful post and scrumptious recipe. I have been following the events in Egypt since the beginning, I also don’t have ties to Egypt, but it is so warming to see that people didn’t not give up. What a world we live in where social media plays such a big role in the lives of so many.

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40 Rosie @ Sweetapolita February 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Wow, what a gorgeous recipe & post. This is my first time on your blog, and it’s fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing!

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41 Más allá de 365 sonrisas February 14, 2011 at 5:16 am

Love, love, love your blog!!!! Nice to meet you! Kind regards from Spain.
Marta

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42 michelle February 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

Thank you for your thoughts on the peaceful revolution in Egypt which transfixed the world. I am not Egyptian nor do I have any ties to Egypt but was equally struck by the significance of this event. Thank you!

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43 Brooke@FoodWoolf February 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I adore you people. Your hearts, your minds, photographs, and even your recipes move me. Thank you for your thoughtful words and insights on this monumental day in history. Here’s to the peaceful revolutions. xoxox

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44 Story February 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Question on the recipe: can I substitute whole wheat flour for the teff flour? I’ve cooked with teff grain but not with the flour so I’m not sure of the weight conversion. Thx!

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45 White on Rice Couple February 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

We haven’t played with substitutions for the teff flour yet. We’re guessing it should work fine as a direct substitute. If you try it, let us know how it turns out.

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46 Story February 22, 2011 at 11:56 am

I did a direct substitute with whole-wheat flour. Judging from your photo and from my dough, mine was much drier pre-baking. Baked, the crumb was still moist but the scones did not hold together very well. Maybe another egg would help? I enjoyed them with and without jam.

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47 Annika February 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I am a week late to this post, but find it well written and very balanced.
Because I am so late none of your commenters will read what I take issue in: the praise of the social media. Not facebook, twitter or anything else started this revolution but the Egyptian people – even more so, when you consider the fact that the regime had shut down the internet for quite some time.

Your pictures are amazing. I don’t live in a country where scones are eaten so I don’t really know what to aim for when making some myself. Thank you for sharing – both the story and the recipe!

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48 Jackie August 20, 2011 at 7:02 am

Was just looking for a brown butter scone recipe because a shop on the opposite side of town from me reportedly makes a wonderful version. So I thought it would be much easier to grab an on-line recipe and make some myself. I also have been meaning to find a few thoughtful blogs to begin reading to help me de-stress and explore the things I have been meaning to and just to read ‘happy’. Who knew I could find that all in one place? So I may be a bit out of order compared to some of the other comments because I started by looking for the recipe: but I LOVE the beautiful breakfast-y photos so early in the a.m. – and the recipe is just what I was looking for and the writing, just your days thoughts, nice to take in. Very late post I know, but blame it on the brown butter scones! I will get current and like you on Facebook. Thanks for posting!

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49 Renee October 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Hi! These scones look wonderful and I’d like to make them, but what is teff flour? I’m not familiar with it in Canada? Thanks so much.

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50 White on Rice Couple October 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Teff is an ancient grain, native to Ethiopia. Bob’s Red Mill carries it, so you might be able to get it from them or a store which carries their products if you wanted to try it. (I don’t know if their online store ships to Canada or not, but they are carried in retailers in Canada). Some people will substitute 1 part whole wheat flour and 1 part rye flour to create a similar taste. Good luck!

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