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Scones to start!

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Scones to start!

Welcome to my food blog! I’m one of those annoying facebook friends who likes to post pictures of all her (successful) culinary creations (though there have been plenty of flops as well). I’ve certainly had requests for recipes over the years, and was happy to share.  However, typing out a full recipe with instructions in a facebook comment is tedious, to say the least.

Just this morning, I decided to try my hand at two new scones: Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip and Pumpkin Maple Bacon. (Please note, I only made a half batch of each, but recipes below are for a full batch.) Of course I posted about it on facebook, and the recipe requests came in.  Filled with ambition after a full night’s sleep, I decided to start this blog. So here we go. In case you stumbled here randomly, and have no clue who I am, check out my “About” page – it probably has more than you need to know. (Sorry folks, I’m a rambler.)

Sooooo, here we go!

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Scones

(Adapted from my mom’s recipe in her self-published cookbook.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick frozen butter
  • 1/3 cup milk or cream
  • 1 egg, (optional: plus 1 egg mixed with 1/2 tsp water for an egg wash)
  • 2/3 cup freshly pitted, chopped and drained cherries (could substitute with 1/3 cup dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped and toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 2 TBSP chocolate chips (You could add up to 1/4 cup, but we liked it better with less… we’re crazy, I know.)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F and gather your ingredients, including the frozen butter (you’ll want it to sit for a moment before you try to cut it).

Prep a cookie sheet or stoneware with parchment paper. (I always use parchment paper when baking cookies or scones, and I never ever have to worry about them sticking/burning to the pan.)

pitting cherriesWash, pit, chop and press out the juice from your summer-fresh cherries (or skip the extra work here and use dried, especially if it’s winter-time).

Go Pro Tip: I found it was easiest to make a small slice with a paring knife, using the pit as a guide, then use your thumbs to tear apart the cherry at the cut, and pull out the pit. It feels a little violent for these poor sweet cherries, and the juice will stain your hands (just until you wash them – clothes might not be so lucky, so skip the pristine, white, lace apron for this one), but the messiness is kind of fun too.

For chopping these slippery little buggers, pile them close together on your chopping board. My favorite knife for chopping anything is the santoku knife.

Personal Product Plug: we still have the J.A. Henckels knife set that we received from our wedding registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond. With one sharpening per year, they are great knives. Even better, we accidentally broke one a few years back; it just cracked right in half. J.A. Henckels has a lifetime warranty, so I took the broken pieces back to Bed, Bath & Beyond, explained what happened and that it was on my bridal registry. They simply handed me a brand new replacement, and treated it as an equal exchange. Because of this, I will forever recommend this knife brand as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond to any newly engaged couple wondering where they should register.

Go Pro Tip: Back to chopping: if you want to see a decent introductory lesson (and a fabulous movie about cooking in Paris), watch Pixar’s “Ratatouille” – seriously. Meanwhile, here’s how I do it. Gather the pitted cherries in a close pile. For loose items (like nuts and berries, not things like carrots or celery), I like to start in the center and, keeping the tip of the knife on the cutting board as if it were attached, I simply “rock” (think of a rocking chair) the blade up and down while pivoting the handle left to right until all the cherries are chopped. I use my spare hand to occasionally regroup the cherries, and to hold the cutting board in place.

chopping part 1chopping part 2

In a food processor (my trusty Cuisinart has been a most helpful companion in many of my kitchen endeavors – 7 years and still strong!), pulse the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.

Cut the butter, adding it to the flour mixture, and pulse a few times. Be careful not to over-pulse! You want the mixture to resemble coarse meal. The butter should be in about pea-sized pieces; carefully (that blade is painfully sharp, and nobody wants your blood in their scones… gross!) use your fingers to feel for and break apart larger pieces of butter.

adding the buttercoarse meal

Next, add the milk and 1 egg, and pulse until it forms a ball. (There’s a pictorial example in the second recipe below.) (Also, at the end of this post is a Go Pro Tip on how to easily crack an egg open with just one hand and minimal mess – though the “easily” and “minimal mess” parts do take some practice, and I still end up with egg on my face… err… all over, from time to time.)

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface; if it’s too sticky, add a little more flour as you gently press it out.  Cover with the fruit, nuts and chips, and knead in. The most important part here is that you want to manhandle the dough as little as possible, but knead it just enough so that all the add-ins are well incorporated. Near the end of that kneading process, also press the dough out to about 1/2 an inch thick. (You can certainly make them thicker if you want, but I wouldn’t go any thinner; scones were not made to be the anorexic model of the food industry. That’s the julienned carrot stick’s turf.)

fold it in

cut it up

Because handling the dough less improves the scone-like texture, I prefer to simply cut my scones into rectangles or triangles, but I will occasionally use round cookie/scone cutters. (A small-mouth jar or butter knife work just fine if you don’t have a round cookie/scone cutter, or a ravioli cutter – like the one pictured here.)

Put the scones onto your parchment covered stoneware, and use a pastry brush to lightly “paint” some of the egg wash over each scone. This step is not essential, but does add a nice sheen to the finished scone.

egg wash

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Depending on the thickness (and your oven) they may take longer. They’ll be golden when they’re done; you can also check the bottoms, which will be dark, but hopefully not too dark. (I prefer to err on the side of underbaking; you can always put them back in for longer, but once they’re burned they’re no good.) If you’re really worried about them not being fully cooked, you could always cut the largest one open – you want it mostly dry and flakey.

Let them cool just enough so you can pick them up (or use a spatula) to transfer them to a plate or cooling rack. You don’t have to let them cool completely before devouring (they’re so good when they’re warm), but don’t leave them on the pan.

Ta-daaaa!!!  IMG_1014 Eat plain, or with butter, or fresh whipped cream (whatever you fancy, really). Pour yourself a cup of tea, and stick out your pinkie while you sip away and nibble on your delightful little treat.

Pumpkin Maple Bacon Scones with Maple Glaze

(I adapted this recipe from one I found via Pinterest on a blog called Table for Seven.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 + 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR the following spices (I prefer to blend my own)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 6 TBSP frozen butter
  • 1 egg, (optional: plus 1 egg mixed with 1/2 tsp water for an egg wash)
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (If you grow your own – way to go! I just use canned pumpkin, making sure it’s 100% pumpkin, nothing else.)
  • 4 sticks of bacon, baked crispy and dark, but not burnt (If you like your bacon chewy, you’re weird. Okay, not really, Ben likes his chewy, too, but I just don’t get it.)
  • For the Maple Glaze: (roughly) 3 TBSP powdered sugar plus 1 + 1/2 TBSP maple syrup

 

Go Pro Tip: Bacon! Perfectly crispy, beautifully flat bacon!

IMG_1009

Prior to making the scones (don’t even bother getting the ingredients out yet), you’ll want to bake your bacon so it has time to cool completely for when you need to chop it. Notice, I said bake.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a large jellyroll pan with parchment paper (you could also use stoneware, but it has to have edges to catch the grease, the parchment paper helps with cleanup). On a large jellyroll pan, you can bake an entire package of bacon (it’s okay to overlap a little). Cooked bacon will keep for about 5 days in the fridge, and reheats quite nicely.

Bake for 10 minutes, then using tongs, flip and reposition the bacon strips so they no longer overlap. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until you reach your desired doneness. (Not burnt, but please not chewy. Ew.) When done, place onto paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely. Let grease cool in pan while you go make those scones!

Go Pro Tip: When chopping the bacon, keep in mind that crispy bacon has the ability to go flying when chopping in a large pile or too quickly. (Pigs can fly!) For efficiency, I still like to fold the strips in half and gather in a pile. I then hover my hand over the knife while I chop away, but watch those fingers!

 

Directions: scones are pretty much made all the same, with the exceptions of your add ins/flavorings, so don’t mind me while I copy and paste.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and gather your ingredients, including the frozen butter (you’ll want it to sit for a moment before you try to cut it).

Prep a cookie sheet or stoneware with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices. (Sometimes I forget things, but the Good Lord reminds me partway though, and so with these, the spices didn’t get added until after the butter. I literally did a 3 second pulse, and it was still good.) Also, I’m not great at measuring out my spices; I tend to simply shake them out until it just feels right. So the spice measurements listed are to my best guestimation. Feel free to adjust spice type/quantity as you see fit.

IMG_1006

Cut the butter, adding it to the flour mixture, and pulse a few times. Be careful not to over-pulse! You want the mixture to resemble coarse meal. The butter should be in about pea-sized pieces; carefully use your fingers to feel for and break apart larger pieces of butter.

Next, add wet ingredients (everything left except the reserved egg wash, bacon and the glaze ingredients), and pulse until it forms a ball.

IMG_1007IMG_1010

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface; if it’s too sticky, add a little more flour as you gently press it out.  Cover with the bacon bits and knead in. Remember, nobody likes to be manhandled, including scones! Near the end of that kneading process, also press the dough out to desired thickness (1/2 inch – 3/4 inch, roughly).

Cut scones into rectangles or triangles, or use round cookie/scone cutters.

Put the scones onto your parchment lined pan/stoneware, and use a pastry brush to lightly “paint” some of the egg wash over each scone.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Depending on the thickness (and your oven) they may take longer.

IMG_1011

Once done, let cool on the pan/stoneware while you mix the powdered sugar and maple syrup to make a glaze (this is another one I eyeballed, so you may need to adjust the sugar to syrup ratio). Brush onto scones with a pastry brush, and move them to a plate or cooling rack. Or just eat them all at once, still standing at the hot oven; they’re that good.

(Literally, that first bite of sweet maple, savory pumpkin and salty, crispy, dark bacon brought tears to my eyes, and Ben can vouch for me on that one. Granted, being pregnant, I cry super easy these days, but food and I have always had a very emotional connection.)

I drool just looking at this picture: IMG_1012

These would go really well with a strong cup of coffee. Keep your pinky tucked in for that one.

 


 

Printer Friendly Directions: (I don’t have a fancy “turn my recipe into a printer-ready page” button, so you’ll have to copy and paste into Pages or Word. I have faith in you; you can do it! Once you’re done using modern technology so successfully, go old-school and write down my blog-name near the top in pretty cursive so you remember where you got the recipe, and that you are loved. Grandmas always send you their recipes in pretty cursive because they love you. I’m not a grandma yet – way too soon! But my kids and grandkids will know cursive, because I love them, too.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and gather ingredients.
  2. Line a cookie sheet/stoneware with parchment paper.
  3. Pulse dry ingredients (excluding add-ins: fruit/nuts/chips) 2-3 times in food processor.
  4. Add cut butter and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 4-5 times.
  5. Add wet ingredients and pulse until dough forms into a ball.
  6. Turn out dough onto floured surface, gently fold in fruit/nuts/chips until just incorporated. Do not over-knead; press dough to roughly 1/2 inch thickness.
  7. Cut scones into desired shape/size, place on parchment lined pan.
  8. Brush with reserved egg wash.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until done.
  10. (Optional) Prepare glaze while scones cool on the pan, brush glaze onto scones.
  11. Move scones to a plate or cooling rack to finish cooling.
  12. Once fully cooled, store in a covered container (plastic wrap on a plate works, too).

Makes about 18 scones, lasts 3 days maybe? (We usually eat them all/give them away within that timeframe. I’m sure they keep longer, but we really wouldn’t know.)


 

As promised:

Go Pro Tip: How to crack open an egg using only one hand. (With practice, it’s quicker, easier, and less messy than two hands. Also, with this method, I very rarely have stray pieces of shell falling into my bowl.)

Hold the egg in your hand like so: pointer finger on top, thumb and middle finger at the middle, ring and pinkie finger sort of cradling the side/bottom.

IMG_1015

Crack the egg on a flat surface (the countertop is perfect); NOT the edge of anything ever.

Using your thumb and middle finger, gently squeeze the egg over your measuring cup/small bowl.

(Most people know this, but just in case you don’t: never empty your egg into whatever you’ll be adding the egg to, as you don’t want to have to fish out a small piece of egg shell out of dough/batter/a hot pan/etc.; that’s just obnoxious. It’s much easier to get a piece of eggshell out of a small bowl of unmixed egg, using a larger piece of eggshell to scoop it out – they’re almost like magnets for each other.)

IMG_1016

Then, you know that hand motion people make (not the rude one) to signify money, or that something is expensive? You know the one, kind of rubbing your thumb back and forth along your finger tips. Well pretend you’re doing an exaggerated version of that but with an egg in your hand. Use your middle finger and thumb to apply just enough pressure while pushing away from each other to open up the egg shell and let the egg inside fall into your bowl or measuring cup.

(Normally you would do this palm down over your bowl, but I wanted you to see the position of my hand while doing so – hence palm up, and completely messier.)

IMG_1017

IMG_1018

Now do this every. single. time. you need to break open an egg, and soon enough, you’ll have a cool trick to show your friends when you invite them over for some amazing scones.

(Please note, if you try this on a boiled egg, you’ll be sorely disappointed.)

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