Apricot Cream Scones

apricot white chocolate cream scones
Here’s a wonderful recipe I’ve done countless ways over the past few months and it’s delicious every time.  Quick, easy and amazingly fluffy on the inside while being crispy on the outside – these scones are an amazing way to make breakfast better.  Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite flavor combinations: apricot and white chocolate.  However, anything you want to add will work. I’ve done cheddar and chives for a savory version, a simple version with just currents and then just plain for the most amazing biscuits! This recipe comes from The Best New Recipe cookbook and so you know the recipes have been endlessly tested and work.  I loved this recipe because I had it memorized the first time I did it.  Four ingredients.  Doesn’t get easier than that.  No cutting in butter – these scones/biscuits/whatever you want to call them have just heavy cream!  I even skip the patting out and cutting into triangle method that Best New calls for and make it even easier by just making these drop-style.

I hope you add this to your arsenal of recipes to whip out when company arrives or a friend drops by for coffee (that still happens in my head, although not so much in reality).  My white chocolate chips got kind of torched, but no scone was left behind.
apricot cream scones

Apricot Cream Scones

10 ounces (2 cups, but start weighing your flour!) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Add-Ins:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped, dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with oil.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, stir in the white chocolate and apricots and then with a fork, whip in the cream.  It gets super sticky and super hard to stir.  If it seems too dry, add a splash or two more.  I usually add just a bit more.  Then, by the spoonful, drop mounds onto your baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Brush the tops of the scones with more heavy cream and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve immediately with butter.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Scones

bacon blue cheese scones
I’ve noticed a trend.  Every time it’s freezing, lately, snowing in particular, I post a blog entry.  I also bake something.  Today I made a banana chocolate chip bread with Olive and after putting her down for her “quiet” time (hardly ever quiet, but at least she stays in there), I came to write right away before the littler one wakes up from her nap.  Everything happens in thirty-minute windows, lately.  Feedings, naps, playtimes, snacks, lunch, cleanup, laundry folding, getting dressed, errands – it all goes like clockwork.

I remember this feeling of monotony and spinning my wheels when Olive was a baby.  I don’t know what it is about the infant phase – it is all at once sweet, boring, thrilling, gross, blissful and extremely isolating.  I think the feelings of isolation come from the cabin fever.  It’s hard to get a baby ready to go out and do something outside the home when you know you’ll have to do something baby related in another hour.  I love this phase but I am always looking forward to getting out of the house more and feeling productive.  January is the antithesis of productive as far as my photography business goes.  No hustle and bustle of bridal and engagement shoots, yet.  Everything is dead, gray and cold.  And maybe that’s okay.  It’s a big, gigantic pause button and one that I (usually) am glad to press each year.  But I’m a people-person.  And not just a little-people person.  I love interacting with grown-ups and perhaps that’s the catharsis of this blog.  It was born the year my first daughter was born and it kept me connected to all of you who love cooking just as much as I do.  I hope one day to have a cooking class.  How grand would that be?!  But the time isn’t right, yet.  For now, I’ll write about scones and look forward to hearing from you all.  And go feed the baby in another thirty minutes…

I improvised this lovely recipe from Annie’s Eats because I had neither scallions or cheddar and only about half the bacon her recipe called for.  I first made her original recipe when I went on a road trip and they were just wonderful.  My altered version was also great and amazing as a little side treat with a cup of soup.  Especially on a day like today, there’s nothing quite like the smell of bacon coming from the oven.  And with a bit of cold butter melting on top of one of these babies, you’ll be set.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Scones

Bacon and Blue Cheese Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a fork until broken down and the butter resembles crumbly sand.  Fold in the blue cheese and bacon and then stir in the buttermilk.  Add a little extra to form a sticky dough if it seems too dry.  Turn out onto a floured work space and form into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into squares or circles or daisies or whatever you prefer and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Brush with egg wash.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with cold butter.

Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear Biscuit Pie
Happy New Year’s Eve!  It is a frigid 20 degrees today with a windchill of about -5 and this morning as I got reluctantly out of my bed, I looked out the frosted window and saw gray.  Just gray with bits of white flocking everything in sight.  I thought of what I would make for breakfast for the redhead and for Matt, who was working from home due to the weather, and I wanted something warm and cozy with possibly a bit of cinnamon.  We had pears getting way too ripe on the counter and lest I waste such beautiful fruit, I decided to do a spin on Joy the Baker’s apple pie biscuits.  The apples for her recipe are obviously not mushy pear consistency and so they cut up and bake into biscuits nicely.  I knew that wouldn’t be possible with pears and I’d just end up frustrated, so I decided to do a free form biscuit/pie/tart mashup and the results were amazing.  I adapted her biscuit recipe to include creme and lemon juice instead of buttermilk and the result was cakey, tangy perfection on top of caramlized pears.

I highly recommend this dish.

Pear Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie*

For the pears:
4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
4 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
2 TBS granulated sugar
4 TBS cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 heavy cream
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup milk

In the super old, awesome, vintage skillet your husband got you for Christmas, melt the butter and brown sugar and salt together until bubbly.  Fold in the pears until they’re all coated and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 425F.  In a large bowl, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it’s all well incorporated.  You can use your hands to break up the butter into tiny pieces in the flour, or just use a pastry cutter.  Either way, make sure it resembles tiny pea-sized crumbles.  Stir the lemon juice into the heavy cream and pour into the flour.  Stir up until it’s all moistened and then add the milk until a sticky dough forms.  You may need more milk.  Loosely form biscuits and layer on top of the pears.  Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

*adapted from Joy the Baker

Pear and Biscuit Pie

Strawberry Shortcake

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Happy Monday to you all!  In my head, we are having a glorious spring filled with the smell of honeysuckle and gentle breezes warming things to a moderate 70 degrees.  The reality is that we are in a dust bowl with winds around 50mph and gusts reaching into the 70mph zone.  Temps in the 90s already with occasional days of 30 dropped here and there to keep us nice and crazy.  I kind of forget why I’ve lived here so long.  Are the sunsets really THAT great?!

So the perfect spring in my head has lovely desserts enjoyed on front porch swings.  I can think of no prettier dessert than a strawberry shortcake.  I’m a bit picky when it comes to this dessert.  At the grocery store, they like to group items together so you’ll immediately think of a particular dish and buy every ingredient.  So, since strawberries are officially in season, you’ll see strawberries and angel food cakes set out next to each other in the produce section.

No.

Strawberry shortcake does not involve angel food cake.  Shortcake, shortbread – the “short” refers to the strands of gluten in the dough, making the final product dense and crumbly like a scone.  There’s not a lot to hold this bread together.  If you had long strands of gluten, it would make the bread chewy like bagels, pizza dough, etc.  So there’s your short lesson on shortbread.
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For my ultimate strawberry shortcake, I took my mother’s biscuit recipe and replaced the buttermilk with heavy cream and added vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar.  I also used lard instead of shortening and I absolutely think it turned out to be the BEST base for the BEST strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had.  Matt, who really would never prefer a fruity dessert over say, a chocolate one, commented a FEW times on how good it was (he is not generous with his exclamations).  My dad, who got to share this dessert with us and who IS generous with exclamations, was reduced to a silent appreciation while he ate.  It will change your very nature, it’s so good.

I’m generous with dramatic statements.

So try it out – I’ll give you the quick recipe for every component but the shortcake was the star.  Take advantage of strawberry season and those glorious, $2 huge containers while you can.  And if they are beginning to look like they’re going to go bad, chop them up, drizzle some sugar and lemon juice on them and in a day you’ll have the perfect strawberry concoction to use for this recipe!
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The Best Strawberry Shortcake

For the shortcake:

2 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS sugar
1/2 TBS salt
1/2 cup lard or shortening
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBS vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients and then cut the lard in with a fork or with your hands until it resembles coarse, crumbly sand.  Mix in the cream and vanilla until the dough holds together when pressed between two fingers.  If it’s still pretty crumbly, even after kneading it in the bowl a couple times, add a splash or two more.  By not weighing the flour, you may end up with more or less flour than I did.  I should have weighed it.  Apologies.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few times, form into a ball and roll out into about a 1/2″ disk and cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.  Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To assemble: Cut a cake in half, pour plenty of strawberry/strawberry juice on top so it soaks into the cake.  Top with a generous dollop of strawberry whipped cream and drizzle more strawberry juice on top and serve.  Recipes for those other components below:

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For the strawberry whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of strawberry juice (from your macerated strawberries)
1 or 2 strawberries from the same concoction

In a large cup with an immersion blender or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, strawberries and juice and blend until thick and creamy.

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For the strawberries:

1 lb strawberries, sliced thin
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and let the strawberries sit at room temp for a couple hours or in the fridge over night.  Stir once – the strawberries will release juices and form a glorious syrup with the sugar and lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

Cherry Almond Scones

Cherry Almond Scones with butter

Dear goodness, I love a good scone.  Some people think they are too dry or would prefer a muffin, instead.  Cake is cake so there’s really no comparing it with a muffin.  Scones are meant to be enjoyed warm, with a sliver of cold butter and a hot cup of coffee or tea.  How very English.  Their merit of being on the verge of dry is that they pair well with butter and a warm drink.  And like their fluffy muffin-cousins, the varieties are endless.  I love a savory scone with cheddar and onion just as much as a sweet variety.  These particular scones have a magical pairing – almond and cherries!  I bought some hippie soap this weekend with that combination and I didn’t intend to buy soap if I hadn’t smelled it, but there it was, cherry almond soap, screaming, “I’M SO COMFORTING!  INHALE ME WHILE YOU DRIVE HOME!”  And so I did.  And it was a really great car ride.

When I received my copy of King Arthur Flour magazine, one of the first scone mixes inside was cherry almond.  I knew I had to make these on my own, instead of waiting on a mix to arrive on my doorstep.  So, I looked up the nearest recipe online and adapted it to be more almondy (there really is never enough almond-flavored things in the world) and got to baking!  They turned out soft on the inside and crispy on the outside – perfect!  I want to make them again, soon, and figure out a way to make them a little more cherry, too.  Perhaps a swirl of homemade cherry preserves in the dough!  They’re really great as is, though – just don’t forget the (real) butter!

Happy Beginning of the Week!

Cherry Almond Scones with Vanilla Bean

Cherry Almond Scones*
makes 8-10 scones, depending on the cut

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup milk with a tsp of vanilla and a tsp of almond extract mixed in!

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add in the butter and rub with your fingers into the dry ingredients until a coarse meal forms. Add in the cherries and almonds. Add the milk and extracts and combine it into the butter flour mixture.

Form the dough into a 1-inch thick disk and cut it into 8 rounds with a biscuit cutter (You can really cut them however you like.)  Transfer the scones to a greased cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.

*Adapted from Anne Burrell

Cooking on the Road

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They made up their minds, and they started packing.
They left before the sun came up that day.
An exit to eternal summer slacking,
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

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I think we might be crazy.  But we’ve made up our minds to drive from here to Seattle in an RV with some really good friends, good music, and good food.  We’re bringing the coffee maker, some good quality beans and our guitars, so I think we may survive. 🙂  We have  friends who live in Seattle, and so we decided to make the trip part of the vacation.  In preparation for a few days on the road, I decided to get to baking.  No one likes to decide what to have for breakfast, so I took it upon myself to make it a no-brainer.  I consulted Annie’s Eats, of course, because that woman knows how to prepare for anything.  She has a wonderful selection of baked goods on her blog, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.  (I may be older but that’s not the issue, here.)

I chose from her blog, the peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins,(they looked so great but I refrained from taste-testing) the chocolate cherry muffins and the bacon and cheddar scones.  We were forced to taste-test the chocolate muffins because they looked too chocolately for their own good and so what else were we going to do?  Leave it to chance?!  They can hardly be called muffins, in my opinion.  They are nearly flourless chocolate cakes, but just enough flour to make them decadent brownies.  In fact, next time I want to make brownies, I’m using this recipe.  So they might be more for snack time instead of breakfast.

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Chocolate Cherry Muffins*
(I doubled the recipe and it turned out great)

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped if desired

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350º F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups or grease wells.

In a small heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a small saucepan and melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth and blended. Let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla until light in color and doubled in volume. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the dried cherries. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25-30 minutes.

Makes 7-8 muffins.

*didn’t adapt this at all from Annie’s Eats, except for doubling it and using half dark chocolate, half milk because that’s what I had on hand!

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The scones I prepared up until baking and just froze them raw.  Then, I will put them in that tiny RV oven and add a few minutes on to baking time and we will have an amazing breakfast heading down the road!  I can’t wait for our adventure and I can’t wait for all the amazing food we will try and the sites we’ll see and the memories we will make.  And with any luck, we’ll all still like each other when we get home.  🙂  I’ll be sure and take lots of REAL, non-iPhone pictures and have a few posts about our gastronomical adventures when I return.

Bacon Cheddar Scones*
makes 8-10

For the scones:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Cut with a 3″ biscuit cutter into 12 circles, place on a greased cookie sheet, wrap in plastic and freeze till ready to eat.  Before baking, remove from freezer, brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

*slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

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