Friday, August 1, 2014

G.K. Chesterton Gluten-Free Orange And Clove Scone

If you were to ask me for the name of the craziest book I have ever read, I would be able to answer easily. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. I wish I could describe the plot to you accurately, but I can’t. I wish I could find another book to compare it with, but I can’t. I’m not even sure what genre it falls under. I looked it up, and apparently nobody else does either. But the phrase ‘metaphysical thriller’ kept popping up, so we’ll just go with that.

Oh, sure, this book begins normally enough.  Gabriel Syme and a man named Lucian Gregory, both poets, meet in a garden and hold a lively conversation which soon turns into a debate about anarchy. Syme is for law and order, while Gregory is for the absence of such rules. Soon Gregory confesses that he is, in fact, part of an anarchist ring that holds seven people, each named after a day of the week. Their leader, or president as they like to call him, is known by no other name than Sunday. Gregory tells Syme that the man called Thursday has died, and Gregory hopes to take up his mantel. Then, quiet calmly, Syme informs Gregory that he is a detective of Scotland Yard who has been given the job of hunting down this ring of anarchists. He uses Gregory to infiltrate the ring and is elected as the next Thursday. And then everything turns upside down. The story becomes insanely chaotic as Syme discovers the true identities of each man in the anarchist ring.

I can’t really write a better description without giving away the story or sounding crazy, so I’ll just leave it at that. But let me tell you that never have I read a more perfectly insane story in my life. The writing is very funny in an extremely serious sort of way, as are the characters. The actual meaning of this book is arguable. I admit that I’m not really sure what to make of it. Nobody who has read it has come away with the same exact view as I did, so I’m just going to leave the interpretation up to you.

The Man Who Was Thursday isn’t considered a comedy, but it made me laugh more than any other book I’ve read. One chapter in particular, The Unaccountable Conduct of Professor De Worms, had me giggling every few sentences. After Syme leaves a meeting with the six anarchist, he takes a walk to clear his head. Before entering a restaurant, he notices one of the anarchists, Professor De Worms, standing in the snow and staring at a shop window. He finds this odd, as the Professor is a very old and rather paralytic man who should not be standing out of doors in cold weather. But he shrugs it off and sits down to eat. Soon after, the Professor limps into the exact same restaurant and orders a glass of milk. It suddenly occurs to Syme that this man is following him. Grabbing his hat, he leaves the restaurant at a brisk walk, later entering a teashop. Just moments later the elderly man drags himself inside and sits down with trouble that only comes with old age. He orders a glass of milk. Thoroughly disturbed that such an old and paralytic man could have followed him so quickly, Syme rushes out of the teashop and chases after an omnibus, which he just barely catches. But right behind him is the Professor, breathing asthmatically and barely able to move. Scared out of his wits, Syme jumps from the bus and sprints through the city with the Professor right behind him, limp and all. Diving into another shop, Syme is sure that he has lost the Professor. But then in stumbles the old man, who sits down at a table near him and orders another glass of milk.

I simply had to incorporate this chapter somehow into my blog because it is by far one of the best chapters I have read in any book. The bewilderment of Syme, the corpse of a Professor being able to chase after a man in his prime, and the pointedly humble yet witty writing style all make for the perfect chapter. I just had to somehow honor this scene with a blog post.

That’s how I came up with gluten free scones and coffee. In both the restaurant and the teashop, Syme orders coffee. In the restaurant, he orders his coffee with ‘common’ food. Well, scones were a very popular food in England in the early 1900s, which is when The Man Who Was Thursday was published. And no, they weren’t the kind of scones we Americans think of. They were not covered in glaze and stuffed with fruits. Apparently that’s an American thing. British scones were - and probably still are - small and simple. But that doesn’t mean they don’t taste good. So here’s a recipe for a G.K. Chesterton scone with an American health freak twist.

G.K. Chesterton Gluten-Free Orange And Clove Scone

Ingredients –
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of oat flour (I just took my gluten-free oats for a spin in the vitamix for 20 seconds or so to make flour)
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of coconut sugar (coconut sugar has a low glycemic index, so it’s safe for Lymies when used in moderation)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum (this keeps the scones from crumbling)
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 of a cup of solid coconut oil, cut into chunks. This is used in place of butter, so it needs to be solid. I put mine in the fridge for a little bit, then cajoled it out of the measuring cup with a fork. 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of rice or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, 1 cup of oat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, ground clove, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. Using a fork, stab in the coconut oil into the flour mixture. I say stab in instead of cut in because the oil is very hard and that was the only way I could break it up into good sizes. If you find a less violent way to do it, please let me know.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, orange juice, and orange zest. 

5. Add the wet mixture to flour mixture and mix together. It should be firm and hold together when shaped into a ball. 

6. Dust a surface with the left over 1/4 cup of oat flour (or however much you need) and turn the dough out onto it. Pat it into a square. Okay, mine was a rectangle about 8 inches long by 6 inches wide, but you get the point.

7. Cut the dough diagonally twice. Then cut it in half length-wise and width-wise. That probably doesn’t make sense. Just remember that it actually kind of looks like the British flag once it’s all cut up. See the resemblance? I’m sure that wasn’t intentional.

After I cut it up, the oil started to melt and the dough started to get floppy. So I put it in the freezer to let it firm up before transferring it to the baking sheet. Why the freezer? There wasn’t room in the fridge.

8. Put the triangles on the baking sheet. Don’t worry about spacing. It doesn’t rise very much. Put it in the oven and let it bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. 

Serve it with organic coffee and you have a snack worthy of Gabriel Syme…if he had Lyme disease or crazy diet restrictions. Yes, these scones are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and low in sugar. And if they didn’t taste magnificent I wouldn’t be posting them here, now would I? 


  1. Mmmm! I would add a dollop of whipped coconut cream on the side. (And have you tried coconut cream or coconut butter for baking? Sometimes I do half oil, half cream; sometimes I do all coconut butter. Straight oil can get a little, well, oily for me after awhile!)

    1. That sounds really good! I've heard that whipped coconut cream is amazing, but I've never made it before. I'll have to try that next time. Thanks!


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