Years ago a dear friend in college introduced me to Japanese pearl jasmine tea, and we’d sit in her basement apartment drinking out of delicate cups that released an aroma I had never imagined could exist so closely available at my fingertips. Over the next few years I started tasting and buying tea like some people buy wine. I justified the expense because of how healthy this habit is: teas have been shown to provide and help in the absorption of antioxidants, as well as fight certain cancers, reduce blood pressure and help to regulate blood sugar. And when you’ve been living with a chronic illness, healthy habits are what keep your worst symptoms in remission year after year.
I try, in humble thanks, to use my health in small ways to contribute to the healing of others. So I jumped on this Online Bake Sale to Help Japan as soon as I got the tweet. Driving back into NYC yesterday, on a miraculously empty highway, I looked down the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge a few blocks from my apartment, and was so thankful. As recent environmental and political events continue to show us, many of our current blessings can be taken away from us in mere minutes.
So my contribution to this online bake sale is inspired by those who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan, and the tea that has, over the years, contributed to my health.
Please go to TheTomatoTart on March 30th (click on logo at right) to bid on baked goods from 60 bloggers all over the world. Money raised will go to Second Harvest Japan, in their efforts to provide much needed food to the rocked country.
60% of food in Japan comes from out of country. Hoarders have wiped out grocery stores and much food has been lost because of lack of refrigeration due to rolling blackouts. This organization is trying to make sure the Japanese in threatened areas have access to basic food and information.
For the bake sale I’m making these optionally gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-alternative. In this recipe I use a custom blend of gluten-free flours, but you can adapt with regular wheat flour or a premixed gluten-free blend. You can also use Earth Balance butter flavored spread to make completely dairy free or use cream/milk if not allergic.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour blend. For this version I used 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup white rice, 1/2 cup millet, 1/4 cup oat and 1/4 cup tapioca.
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp xantham gum
- 4 Tbsp – 1/2 cup sugar of choice. Now I know that this is a wide range. And that “sugar of choice” can mean a lot of things. I used 1/4 cup of sucanat.
- 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter or Earth Balance
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup ground nuts (optional)
- 1 extra large egg
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice / Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup milk or cream – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk – for the scones plus 1/4 cup more for glaze
- 2Tbsp cup strongly brewed Japanese green tea (I used Genmaicha)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. My oven is not great for temperature. I recently discovered that it runs about 100 degrees hot. So right now I’ve got it set at 350 with a wooden spoon cracking it open, and it’s sitting at around 415. Some bakers bake their scones as high as 475. Others at a cool 350. Just watch your oven while you’re baking.
- I like to sift my flours and dry ingredients together. Using a balloon whisk for a few turns works too. Any way you do it, get your flours, salt, soda, powder, gum and sugar into a large bowl.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and work it into the flour with your fingers. Yes, you can also do this in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. But scones are old-school, as are fingers.
- When crumbly like a large cornmeal, add lemon zest and nuts. Whisk around.
- Make a well in the center and pour in egg and lemon juice. Using a fork, start to pull the mixture together.
- Add your milk/cream. I found 1/2 cup worked perfectly today, but this varies, so start with 1/4 at a time and work in until you get to a soft, spongy consistency that’s dry enough to work but delightfully squishy.
- Turn out onto a very floured board (try to use a sweeter flour, like oat or amaranth, instead of a drier grainy one like rice). Knead until the dough is consistent, working in more flour as necessary (I probably worked in another 3 Tbsp). I kneaded about 20 seconds.
- Roll into a log, pat down, and cut dough into 8 triangles.
- Move to a lightly floured thick baking sheet.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes, then turn the sheet and bake until golden brown on top and stiff to the touch, about another 10 minutes.
- Let sit for 2 minutes on sheets before removing to cooling rack.
- While cooling, brew 1/4 cup of green tea until it’s incredibly strong, and let cool.
- Place powdered sugar in a small bowl, and add the tea, whisking with a fork until smooth. Slowly add milk of choice until the mixture is a thin glaze.
- Drizzle onto cooled scones.