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Cooking | Magazine

Recipes: Sweet brunch treats for Mother’s Day

Make something special with these surefire recipes for buckwheat apple pancakes, triple ginger scones with chocolate chunks, or sesame-oat crumble.

Triple Ginger Scones With Chocolate Chunks
Triple Ginger Scones With Chocolate ChunksConnie Miller of CB Creatives
Logo for magazine's cooking column w/ Christopher Kimball and cooks of Milk Street.

These sweet brunch treats require little planning or effort, and that makes them great choices for treating Mom right on Mother’s Day. Inspired by Polish racuchy, our twist on buckwheat pancakes balances warm spices such as allspice and cinnamon with tart Granny Smith apples and lemon. For an update on a classic scone, we use ginger three ways — powdered, freshly grated, and candied — to make a tender pastry studded with chocolate chunks. Or for an even simpler, more versatile approach, consider our baked sesame-oat crumble, which goes just as well on tangy yogurt as it does on a vanilla ice cream sundae.

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Triple Ginger Scones With Chocolate Chunks

Makes 12 scones

These rich, flavor-packed oversized scones are the creation of Briana Holt of Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, Maine. Ginger in three different forms — ground, fresh, and crystallized — gives these breakfast pastries plenty of kick, as does black pepper. Keep both the butter and buttermilk in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them so they stay as cold as possible, which makes the dough easier to handle. Holt recommends serving the scones after they’ve cooled to room temperature, but we also love them warm, while the chocolate is soft and melty.

Don’t worry if the flour-butter mixture doesn’t form a cohesive dough immediately after all the buttermilk has been added. It will be very crumbly, but a brief kneading and the act of shaping and pressing the mixture into disks will bring it together. When kneading, though, take care not to overwork the dough, which will result in tough, not tender, scones.

3½ cups (455 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

5 tablespoons (67 grams) white sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1½ teaspoons grated nutmeg

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1¼ teaspoons table salt

1½ teaspoons ground black pepper

1¼ cups cold buttermilk

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled

1 cup (150 grams) roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate

1 cup (154 grams) finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 large egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 375 degrees with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, grated ginger, and orange zest.

To a food processor, add about ½ of the flour mixture and scatter the butter over the top. Pulse until the butter is in large pea-sized pieces, 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer to the bowl with the remaining flour mixture. Add the chocolate and crystallized ginger, then toss with your hands until evenly combined. Pour in about ‚ of the buttermilk mixture and toss just a few times with your hands, making sure to scrape along the bottom of the bowl, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining buttermilk in 2 more additions, tossing after each. After the final addition of buttermilk, toss until no dry, floury bits remain. The mixture will be quite crumbly and will not form a cohesive dough.

Lightly dust the counter with flour, turn the mixture out onto it, then give it a final toss. Divide it into 2 even piles, gathering each into a mound, then very briefly knead each mound; it’s fine if the mixture is still somewhat crumbly. Gather each mound into a ball, then press firmly into a cohesive 5-inch disk about 1½ inches thick. Brush the tops of each disk lightly with beaten egg. Using a chef’s knife, cut each disk in half, then cut each half into 3 wedges. Place 6 wedges on each prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.

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Bake until the scones are deep golden brown, 27 to 30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Cool the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer scones directly to a rack and cool for at least another 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Buckwheat Apple Pancakes
Buckwheat Apple PancakesConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Buckwheat Apple Pancakes

Makes 6 servings

Inspired by a traditional Polish snack, these apple-studded pancakes get rich flavor from buckwheat flour, warm spices, sour cream, and a good dose of vanilla. We like them made with tart Granny Smith apples, but if you prefer a combination of tart and sweet, use a mix of Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious. We macerate the apples with sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon to boost flavor. And instead of mixing the apples into the batter, we mimic a blueberry pancake technique, scattering the cubed apple into the pancakes just after they’re poured onto the skillet. Press gently on the apple pieces after scattering them on the batter; you want to embed the fruit without deflating the pancakes.

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Apples should not be prepped in advance; the fruit will discolor if left to stand. Dry the drained apples well to keep the pancakes from becoming soggy.

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into rough ¼-inch cubes (3 cups)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 tablespoons white sugar, divided

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour

½ cup (70 grams) buckwheat flour

2½ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground allspice

2 large eggs

1½ cups whole milk

1 cup sour cream, divided

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Grape-seed or other neutral oil, for cooking

Powdered sugar, to serve

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the white sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Set aside.

In a second medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, salt, allspice, the remaining 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, and the remaining 4 tablespoons white sugar. In a third medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, ½ cup of the sour cream, and the vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk just until the batter is evenly moistened; do not overmix.

Drain the apples and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; discard the liquid. Using additional paper towels, press the apples to dry as much as possible; return to the bowl.

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Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of the oil to the skillet, then use a wad of paper towels to spread it into an even film, wiping out any excess. Using 2 heaping tablespoons of batter per pancake, form 3 pancakes in the pan, using the back of a spoon to spread each into a 4-inch round. Working quickly, scatter about 1 heaping tablespoon of apple cubes onto each and gently press into the batter.

Cook until the edges begin to look set and the bottoms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes; lower the heat if they brown too quickly. Using a wide spatula, flip each pancake and cook until the second sides are well browned, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pancakes apple-side down to the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, coating the skillet with oil for each batch.

Place the baking sheet with the pancakes in the oven and heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plates. Put a spoonful of powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and lightly dust the pancakes. Serve warm, with the remaining ½ cup sour cream on the side.

Sesame-Oat Crumble
Sesame-Oat CrumbleConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Sesame-Oat Crumble

Makes 3 cups

Sprinkle this baked topping on yogurt for breakfast, on ice cream for dessert, or on any sweet to which you’d like to add nutty flavor and crunchy texture. If you prefer, instead of pumpkin seeds, use raw sunflower seeds or chopped nuts. And if you can’t find black sesame seeds, simply increase the white sesame seeds to 3 tablespoons.

As always with tahini, be sure to stir well before measuring to reincorporate the oil that separates to the top.

Go easy when stirring the crumble as it bakes. A gentle hand will preserve the nubby, clumpy texture that makes the treat so appealing.

The crumble will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

¼ cup tahini

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

¾ cup (98 grams) all-purpose flour

½ cup (43 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats

6 tablespoons (82 grams) packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons (23 grams) pumpkin seeds

1½ tablespoons (13 grams) black sesame seeds

1½ tablespoons (13 grams) white sesame seeds

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) salted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, vanilla, and sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, pumpkin seeds, both sesame seeds, and the salt. Scatter the butter over it and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into it until it resembles wet sand and holds together when pinched. Drizzle with the tahini mixture, then fold with a rubber spatula until combined and the mixture forms marble-sized clumps; smaller and larger bits are fine.

Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet. Bake until the crumble is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, using a metal spatula to scrape up and flip the mixture 2 or 3 times during baking. Let cool to room temperature.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.