Baking With Sonora Wheat
6 Comments since March 18th, 2009
As you probably know, at Pie Ranch, we grow pie ingredients, such as pumpkins, berries, rhubarb, and apples. But pie wouldn’t be pie without the crust, and we are proud and excited to grow our own heirloom wheat. Sonora wheat was originally passed along to us by Monica Spiller of the Whole Grain Connection, a California non-profit working to enhance the desirability and availability of organically and sustainably grown grains (www.sustainablegrains.org). Monica obtained a few grams of Sonora Wheat seed in the early 1990’s from the USDA’s grain seed bank in Idaho. We’ve since learned that this wheat was brought to California around 1820 by the Portuguese or Spanish by way of Mexico, and was grown out on the California Missions.
Sonora wheat is lower in protein than most wheat, which makes it ideal for pastry flour & our pies! We usually sow the wheat in late fall or early winter and let the winter rains water it. By early summer the wheat is shoulder high, turns from green to golden & is ready for harvest. We had to resow this year’s crop after blackbirds decimated our first sowing, but the new stand (sown on Inauguration Day) is looking healthy and lush a about 4 inches tall.
Our neighbors Gene and Donna at Double Dog Ranch in Pescadero have also gotten excited about this special California land-race grain, and have joined in the effort to revitalize the production and distribution of local wheat. Donna and her friend Julie have been experimenting with Sonora wheat recipes and are excited to share them.
We offer our own wheat for sale at our farm stand, which you can mill into flour yourself with our new mill, which arrived this week after a long ship ride from Austria.
Baking with Sonora Wheat
Julie Smith and Donna Richeson describe themselves as self-taught bakers. “We’ve baked together going on 20 years, and Julie grew up with my sons”, says Donna. Both like experimenting with baking, and both are very enthusiastic about the taste and texture of Sonora whole wheat. They share the view that a home baked sweet can be a nice and comforting treat. Julie loves finding and adapting recipes and says, “I’d much rather have dessert than dinner.”
A few words about Sonora wheat from Julie and Donna:
We think you are in for a real treat when you begin to bake with Sonora. Fortunately, this nutty and flavorful wheat has not been lost to us. If you are like us, you probably will find the texture and flavor of Sonora wheat becoming a bit addictive. It adds a special quality to many baked goods that makes you want to come back for more.
Now, we want to tell you that Sonora does behave a little differently in recipes than all-purpose flour for example. Sonora wheat does not absorb as much liquid as all-purpose flour. We have adapted the included recipes for Sonora. Also, Sonora when used for pie crusts and tarts tends to be on the fragile side. We hope this does not discourage you – the taste is worth learning to handle the dough. We solved this by using a pizza peel to transfer the crust to the pie pan our after it has been rolled out. Take heart – we all go through this learning stage.
You will find Sonora has an appealing texture – many of our friends say it reminds them of graham crackers. It also has quite a nutty and sweet taste. We wish you great enjoyment.
- Julie & Donna
Sonora Cream Scones
(Makes 12 small scones)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2-1/2 cups Sonora wheat flour
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
5 TBS unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup raisins
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
1 large egg
Measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl and mix lightly. Add cold pieces of butter and use a pastry blender/cutter to cut butter into the flour until the mixture looks sandy and butter pieces are no larger than small peas. Add the raisins to the bowl and mix lightly. Measure cold cream into measuring cup, add the egg to the cream and mix lightly with fork. Pour this cream mixture into the flour mixture and mix with fork until it starts to hold together.
Knead softly in the bowl until the dough completely comes together in a ball. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces. With floured hands, form each piece into a 5” diameter disc about 1” thick. Cut each disc into 6 triangular pieces. Place on baking sheet with a space between each scone.
Bake at 400 for about 15-17 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
Recommended: serve warm with butter or crème fraiche and jam.
Optional: you can use other dried fruit like currants or cherries.
These scones are quick, easy and delicious. Adapted from Dorrie Greenspan’s cookbook Baking you’ll find yourself making these scrumptious scones over and over. Freeze some of the uncooked scones so you can bake these when the urge strikes!