I used whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe, and I love how it works. Whole wheat pastry flour is more finely ground and lower in protein than regular whole wheat flour, and it yields a product very similar in texture to my usual all-purpose flour scones. I considered using white whole wheat flour, which I’ve also used occasionally in baking, but I really do prefer whole wheat pastry flour. White whole wheat flour, while more delicate than regular whole wheat, is still too coarsely ground, and it’s tougher, less delicate.
You can make these scones with any kind of dried fruit you want, but I like them best with dried apricots. My favorites are from Trader Joe’s, labeled “California Slab Apricots, Blenheim Variety.” They’re soft and have a very true apricot flavor, sweet and also quite tart. (They’re sulfured, which some people avoid, but I prefer the flavor.)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching with your fingertips until there are no butter lumps bigger than a large pea. Add the sugar and dried apricots, and whisk to incorporate.
Pour the half-and-half into a small bowl, and add the egg. Beat with a fork to mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and stir (with the fork; it works fine) to just combine. The dough will look shaggy and rough, and there may be some unincorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry about that. Using your hands, gently press and shape the dough, so that it holds together in a messy clump. Turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop, and press and gather and knead it until it just comes together. Ideally, do not knead more than 12 times. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a rough circle about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges.
Put the wedges on the prepared baking sheet. Pour a splash of half-and-half into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the scones with a thin coat to glaze. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm – with butter, if that’s your style. (My mother used to split the Earth/Lovelight ones in half and toast them, and then smear them with butter. Very good.)
Note: If you plan to eat them within a day or two, store the scones in an airtight container at room temperature. For longer storage, seal them in a heavy plastic bag or container, and freeze them. Before serving, bring them to room temperature. Either way, reheat them briefly in a 300°F oven. They’re best served warm.
Yield: 8 small scones