Vegan Oat-Date Scones

I have many fond childhood memories of scones. Yes, it’s a strange thing to have childhood memories of, perhaps, but I guess I’ve just always loved good food.

We took several family trips to Ireland when I was little, the first of which was when I was about 9. I had a scone for the first time on that trip and fell in love. Irish scones are rich, not sweet, a little crumbly, and a little flaky, and are served with that thick, buttery-but-not-butter substance – at the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I think it was probably clotted cream. Regardless, it was delicious and beautifully complemented the crumbliness of the scone.

When we returned home from that trip, my siblings and I made many attempts at replicating the Irish scones (my mom believed all of us needed to learn how to cook, and she started us early). We had an old cookbook published by Quaker Oats (it was probably something my mom got for free after buying so many canisters of oatmeal) that had a fabulous scone recipe. It was as close to the Irish scones as I had found as a child.  It was rich with butter (probably margarine, as my mom usually didn’t allow us to have butter unless guests were over), crumbly and substantial from the oats, and had a tender crumb to it. We baked the scones in a cake pan and they were simply glorious to eat. They were definitely non-vegan, though, as I distinctly recall that the recipe used an egg.

Another fond scone memory is the vegan date-oat scones that the Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA makes. They are sweeter than I usually like for a scone, but the richness of the oats and the slight orange flavor makes the scones absolutely divine. I always make sure to walk or take the T to that Whole Foods just to get a few of the scones.

This morning, I tried to remember the recipe from the Quaker Oats cookbook and couldn’t; I recalled that it had oats, raisins, cream of tartar (I’m not sure what the function of this is, but I had some so I used it here); but I couldn’t remember much else. It was too earliy this morning for me to call my mom and ask for the recipe, so I just had to improvise. I think these turned out really well. I will definitely work on the this recipe and perhaps try to reduce the fat a little bit, but I’d also make them again as-is  in a heartbeat.

This recipe makes a lot – 16 BIG scones. I hate having the oven on for just one meal’s worth of something, so I made enough to freeze. You could easily halve the recipe.

1 cup white flour

3 cups whole wheat flour (you could use more white – in fact, they’d probably be better and more authentic with all white flour. I ran out of white so I had to use whole wheat.)

4 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup of vegan margarine

a dash vanilla, optional

1 1/4 cup soy milk, plus a little more if needed

1 cup chopped dates (I used 1/2 cup and only put the dates in one of the pans, leaving the other scones as plain oatmeal)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans. If you don’t have cake pans, lightly grease two cookie sheets.

Combine all dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the margarine until it is thoroughly mixed. Add the vanilla and soy milk and stir until all the dry mixture is incorporated. You might need a touch more soy milk.

If using dates, stir them in.

Put half the dough in each cake pan, or drop by about 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheets. If using cake pans, score the scones into 8 triangles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until very lightly brown. Don’t overcook; they get dry easily.

Serve as-is, or with a little Earth Balance and/or marmalade. Enjoy with some tea, of course!

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