June 8th, 2013

Coconut Apricot Scones & King Arthur

A few months ago, my friend Peter asked if I wanted to take a class at King Arthur in Vermont. YES! We found that classes sell out quickly but we were able to get into a scone and biscuit class on St Paddy’s Day. I’ve never been up so early on St Patrick’s Day.

I’ve always had trouble with scones and biscuits. I was scared of mixing too the dough too much but I learned that I was actually not mixing enough. The class also taught me to add the liquids slowly and stop when you get the right texture. The amount of liquid you need can change depending on the weather, other ingredients, etc. The third trick was to cut the cold butter in half. Half, you cut into tiny pieces and work into the dry ingredients. Then you slice the remaining butter into thin flat pieces. These get worked into the dough but you are aiming to keep these larger in size. The variation in butter pieces is important to the texture. 

The class set up was great. We made three recipes each and then got to try everyone’s scones. They brought out a whole variety of mix ins. I went with fiori (orange flavored extract), coconut, and dried apricots. The basic scone recipe is below. You can choose different mix ins, just make sure that everything adds up to a half a cup total. In the picture above, I made another version with fiori and mini chocolate chips. So good!

Buttermilk Scones with Coconut & Apricot
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe
Makes six scones

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg, at room temp
3/4 cup buttermilk
smallest drop possible of fiori di sicilia (optional)
sparkling sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375f

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and blend into the flour with your finger tips (you are aiming to have half of the butter in tiny bits and the other half a little flatter like small disks, see above for more description). If the mix warms up too much while you’re working, let it cool in the fridge before proceeding. 

Stir in the coconut, apricots, and sugar. 

Separate the egg and place the yolk in a liquid measuring cup (reserve the egg white for brushing to top of the scones). Add the buttermilk and the fiori to the measuring cup and mix to combine. 

Lightly stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Stop adding when the dough is moist enough to stick together. Knead the dough briefly on a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a circle and cut into six scones. Move the scones to a lined baking pan and separate them just a little so they are not quite touching. 

Beat the egg white and brush it over the tops of the scones, sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Or you can bake them as they are and later make a glaze to pour on top when they are warm from the oven, see photo. For the glaze, I just add a little milk at a time to some powdered sugar until it is thin enough to drizzle. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned.

June 4th, 2013

Savarin

I’m starting to get discouraged with this book. I did not enjoy this recipe and ended up eating the berries and some framboise whipped cream sans cake. The berries and cream were delicious. The cake was yeasty and dry. 

Once I saw the cake come out of the oven, I didn’t even want to try making the syrup which I know would have helped with the dryness. I knew the cake wouldn’t work for me and I gave up. Instead of getting discouraged, I will choose remember all of the great bread recipes we’ve had so far and that amazing red wine onion confit. Hoping the next recipe in two weeks works a bit better. 

What did you guys think of this one?

xx

Spike

ps- don’t those raspberries look like eyes?

May 23rd, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies & a Bunch of Smitten Kitchen Recipes

Does everyone own the Smitten Kitchen cookbook at this point? Hope so. I’ve been steadily working my way through it. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve tried:

  • The peanut butter/chocolate sandwich cookies pictured. LOVED this recipe. Deb notes a few times that the dough is tricky to work with but I thought it was pretty easy. I will be making these again. If you don’t have the book, the recipe can be found here
  • The broccoli slaw salad. Even though I claim not to like mayo, this salad is amazing. Loved it. Great for summer. Recipe here. 
  • Chocolate silk pie. Meh, this is the one recipe I was pretty disappointed with. The filling tasted like straight up sugar and that’s about it. Everyone ate it without complaint but I wasn’t a fan (still, finished the leftovers without too much grumblng. It got slightly better after a day). 

These are just the recipes I’ve made recently. I also loved the wedge salad, the stuffed shells, the latkes, and the whole wheat scones. Looking forward to trying more soon.

What recipes have you tried? 

Spike

May 21st, 2013

Savory Brioche Pockets

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This Tuesday with Dorie/Baking with Julia recipe was made easy by the little ball of brioche dough hiding in my freezer. I defrosted the dough and made one mini savory brioche pocket on Sunday afternoon. I guess that’s why I save tiny odds and ends of dough in the freezer. 

I went off recipe and filled the dough with caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, and ricotta. The filling was great but overall this was just okay. I’m sure it was a result of using frozen brioche dough from who knows when. Fresh dough and I would have been a big fan. I just know it. 

If you’re up for making brioche, check out Loaves & Stitches for the recipe. 

Spike

May 20th, 2013

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

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I made this recipe ahead of schedule for the Tuesdays with Dorie(/Baking with Julie) group recipe. I took pictures during daylight and even typed up some thoughts. Then we had to disconnect my computer for some home renovations and I missed posting. When I was ready to post a few days ago, I couldn’t find my card reader for the photos. I searched over the weekend and finally gave up and had amazon bring a new one. It just arrived and come to find out: the pictures of the cake didn’t turn out. UGH! A picture of Toby fully enjoying a car ride will have to do. And now the rhubarb cake….

For the first time ever, the teen working the check out at the supermarket didn’t look at me funny when I bought rhubarb. Usually I have to explain what it is. She knew but had to look up the code for the rhubarb; “no one buys this” she tells me. 

Well, I’ll be back to the store for more rhubarb while it lasts because this recipe reminded me of how great it is. This cake is super simple to put together on a Monday night and tastes good hot (very hot! We/I couldn’t wait) out of the oven. I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8inch cake pan. The cake is rich but not too sweet. Just wish I had dark brown sugar instead of regular to give the rhubarb/caramel topping a bit more color. 

You can find the recipe on Erin’s blog (and she just had the cutest baby!)

I’ve had a few months of baking less and making a bunch of repeat recipes that I’ve already posted. But I’ve been baking up new recipes like it’s my job and I have a bunch ready for posting. Included the next TWD recipe coming up tomorrow. 

Spike

April 20th, 2013

Madeleines

It’s been kind of a crazy week in the Boston area and it took me awhile to get to making these madeleines. I finally got to them last night and had the benefit of reading a few baker’s posts before getting started.

No one seemed to love the recipe so I prepared myself for that and tried to add some additional flavor with orange zest and some fancy orangy flavoring I picked up at King Arthur. I only made a half batch and used my mini muffin tin. I looked at madeleine tins when Ed and I were registering the other weekend and passed them over. I’m kind of glad I did because mads just aren’t my favorite treat. These were okay, and they looked pretty cute even without the fancy pan. But. But there are so many other things I’d rather be baking and eating. Baking so much these last few years has kind of turned me into a snob. 

Katie and Amy of Counter Dog have the recipe and their madeleines look super cute. 

xx

Spike

April 2nd, 2013

Rustic Potato Loaves

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I bought a loaf of white bread from the supermarket last week and it was so awful, I threw out my toast one morning. Half of the loaf is still sitting on the counter, fully ignored after this wonderful potato bread recipe came into my life. 

This recipe is very forgiving, I left the first rise going way too long as we ran to the vet with the doggy (he’s doing much better now, but there’s nothing like a 170 lb dog that can’t use his back legs). The dough still made the second rise and had the nicest texture. Ed made us some chicken, bacon, avocado sandwiches on the bread for dinner and they were gone in about 2 minutes flat. 

Russet potatoes were buy one get one at the store, so I’ll be making this recipe again and again over the next few weeks. This is a recipe to bookmark. Find it on Dawn’s blog Simply Sweet.

xx

Spike

March 19th, 2013

Chocolate Chip Apricot Cookies

It was too dark for decent cookie pictures, so you get a picture of a wedding cake I made for friends last week instead. 

This week’s TWD recipe is a take on the chocolate chip cookie. This variation includes espresso and chopped apricots. Sounds like a strange combo, eh? It works. 

I reduced the mocha flavor by just adding a tsp of espresso powder- just enough to give the chocolate a little extra flavor. The chopped apricots were really nice and sweet. I subbed regular brown sugar for dark brown so my cookies were a little lighter in color. These really are best the day they are baked. A few days later and the leftovers are a little dry. 

They won’t replace my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe but I did enjoy the easy recipe and a great use for dried apricots. Find the recipe with Peggy of Galettista

xx

Spike

March 4th, 2013

Croissants

So this was the week we were to make croissants. For real and from scratch. I was so excited that I bought expensive butter. The process has many steps of rolling and folding dough but nothing is too difficult. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t follow directions to a t (I wasn’t breaking out a ruler to make sure my dough was the perfect size). 

In the end, buttery and flaky croissants were enjoyed. Some with a bittersweet chocolate filling too. And I’m comforted to know I still have the second half of the dough in the freezer to bake up soon.

Take on the challenge of croissants. Find the recipe on Amanda’s blog. 

xx

Spike

February 19th, 2013

TWD Catch up: Boca Negra & Focaccia

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This boca negra was the first recipe I made from Baking with Julia way back at Christmas time 2011 (luckily I thought ahead and took a picture and wrote down a few thoughts then).  I used amaretto in the cake, which had a nice flavor without tasting like a cocktail.  The cake stayed fresh for days, and the flavor just got better with time.  The scariest part? Flipping out a hot-from-the-oven cake onto a plate.  I reread the instructions 5 times (How do I know it is really done? You really don’t need to wait a few minutes before flipping?) Then I just did it and was rewarded with a perfect unmolding. 

I made the focaccia about a week ago and just never got a chance to post about it or photograph it. It was pretty tasty, although a recipe that requires some planning ahead to get all of the steps timed correctly. 

Find the Boca Negra recipe on A Frederick Food Garden

And the Focaccia recipe Wandering Through

xx

Spike