Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Date–Banana Bread Scones -- #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Readers often ask where we get our recipes.

This one came from one of you. 

Regular blog reader Grace Koshida is a terrific cook as well a devoted mystery fan, balcony gardener, and explorer. We’re Facebook friends and a couple of weeks ago, she posted a picture of scones she’d made, with the link to the recipe on the Food 52 site. Why they caught my attention, I don’t know – maybe the thought of the overripe banana on my kitchen counter – but they did. 

Now I’ve confessed before that I am incapable of making a recipe as written. It may be for lack of ingredients, or an idea that the process might be smoother or the result even better if done a little differently. 

And sometimes it’s my own taste. I was halfway through reading the recipe before I realized it included chocolate chips, a detail I hadn’t noticed in Grace’s recounting. Banana and chocolate chip are both terrific flavors, and they make a classic combination – but one I don’t happen to care for. 

What could I substitute? I hit on the dried dates in our refrigerator food drawer and they were perfect. I also subbed walnuts for the hazelnuts, which I adore, but because they require toasting and skinning, I save them for when I have more time than on Sunday morning!

These scones are as good as banana bread, as easy to make, and faster to bake. You could wrap and freeze some and bake when you’re ready for them. (The original recipe advises that they can be baked from frozen, but I haven’t tried that.) They also call for only one large banana, not two or three, so they’re a great spur-of-the-morning option. And, as I’ve said, highly flexible!

In short, a terrific Sunday morning treat – any day of the week!

Date–Banana Bread Scones

Adapted from Food 52

1 large, over-ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed 

½ cup dried dates or semisweet chocolate chips 

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts 

Sugar to top (sparking or turbinado both work well) 

Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon sheet or parchment paper. 

In a small bowl, stir together the banana, cream, egg, and vanilla. 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the dates or chips and the nuts. Mix.

Stir in the banana cream mixture, until thoroughly moistened. You will not have a uniform batter. 

Lift the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and pat it into a rough circle, about 8 inches across. Use a table knife to cut into 8 equal pieces. (Set aside those you want to wrap, freeze, and bake another day.) Separate scones, about 2 inches apart. Brush lightly with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until scones are golden brown and set, about 18 to 22 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a scone should come out clean. 

Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. 

These scones freeze well. Wrap well to prevent drying. 

Makes 8. 

I snared the ruler at the Romance Writers of America booth at the American Library Association meeting a few years ago. It lives in my kitchen drawer and is very useful! 


PEPPERMINT BARKED: A Spice Shop Mystery (coming July 19, 2022 from Seventh St. Books)

From the cover: 
A Dickens of a Christmas turns deadly…

As the holiday season lights up Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece’s beloved Spice Shop is brimming with cinnamon, nutmeg, and shoppers eager to stuff their stockings. Add to the mix a tasty staff competition—a peppermint bark-off—along with Victorian costumes for this year’s Dickensian Christmas theme, and Pepper almost forgets to be nervous about meeting her fisherman boyfriend’s brother for the first time.

But when a young woman working in her friend Vinny’s wine shop is brutally assaulted, costumed revelers and holiday cheer are the last things on Pepper’s mind. Who would want to hurt Beth? Or were they looking for Vinny instead?

The vicious attack upsets everyone at Pike Place, but none more than Pepper’s own employee, Matt Kemp. At first, Pepper is baffled by his reaction, but his clandestine connection to Beth could hold the key to the assailant’s motive. Or perhaps it’s Vinny’s ex-wife who knows more than she’s letting on . . . and what about the mysterious top-hatted man with whom Pepper saw Beth arguing that morning?

As the secrets of the market come to light, long-held grudges, family ties, and hidden plans only further obscure the truth. Is it a ghost of the past rattling its chains, or a contemporary Scrooge with more earthly motives? As Pepper chases down a killer, someone is chasing her, and in the end, the storied market itself may hold the final, deadly clue.

A cozy holiday mystery full of culinary delights and a rich cast of characters, the sixth installment in the Spice Shop Mystery series will keep you turning the page . . . and reaching for another piece of peppermint bark. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Peppermint Barked, her 6th Spice Shop mystery, will appear in July 2022, and Blind Faith, her second standalone suspense novel (written as Alicia Beckman), will release in October 2022. 

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by Leslie's website and join the mailing list for her seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. Thank you for the Date–Banana Bread Scones recipe! Sounds yummy and I'll definitely be giving it a try.

    Can't wait for the opportunity to read "PEPPERMINT BARKED", which is definitely on my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. Glad to be the inspiration for your date-banana bread scones, Leslie. And you're right, I never used chocolate chips when making these Food52 scones: just the walnuts. But dates are a good alternative that I may try next time!

  3. Well done with the adjustments to the recipe. I like to "see" cooks thinking on their feet.

  4. Yum, these look great, so thank you Leslie and Grace! I'm also a recipe tweaker from way back.

    1. "Tweakers unite, to everyone's delight!" Our new motto?

  5. We love banana bread but I'm famous for underbaking it so this recipe is perfect for us. I'm not a fan of a banana-chocolate combination either so I'll use craisins.

    1. Quick breads in full sized loaf pans can be hard to bake all the way through, can't they? I often use mini pans. Enjoy the craisin-banana combo!