October 11, 2011
it’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m trying to write a post about the breakfast I made over twelves hours ago. I was thinking about putting it off until tomorrow, or even the next day, and could think of a bunch of excuses to justify it. I’ve been sick these last few days and feeling overwhelmingly tired stupidly early in the day. I got called into work on a day off, but had to go in because, hey, who doesn’t need the money? School applications are breathing down my neck and there are a million people with whom I have to get back in touch. I’m not even sure if people expect me to post a breakfast recipe on Tuesday, so what’s the point?
Now what? What is the point? That kind of thinking sucked me into a pretty dark spot, sitting here, writing this. I guess what’s keeping me going is the fact that I woke up super early, despite having to go into work and despite being sick, so I could make something fun to eat and share. I even made two batches of scones because the first recipe didn’t turn out as delicious as I thought it might. It was obviously important to me that I make the effort here and try my best to keep my word, even if my word means something as simple as making scones and posting pictures of them on the internets. Also, who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate in the morning?
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
(Recipe adapted from bakingsheet)
Yields 16 smallish scones
Notes: There are two things that almost guarantee perfect scones: using very, very cold butter and working the dough quickly with your hands. I always cut my butter into the smallest cubes possible and stick them in the fridge for about 15 minutes before using.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and very cold
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add peanut butter and cubes of butter to flour mixture and mix with your hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in chocolate chips.
4. Combine milk and vanilla extract, and then add to dough. Mix with your hands until just combined, then turn out onto a clean, floured surface and knead once or twice. This process should go very quickly and dough will be lumpy.
5. Split dough into 2-3 discs, about one to one-and-a-half inch thick, and cut into wedges.
6. Place wedges two inches apart on the baking sheet and bake each sheet 16-20 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.
7. Cool wedges on a baking sheet until cool enough to eat.
Storage: Scones do not store well, so I only bake enough scones to eat. To freeze ready-to-bake scones, just place unbaked wedges on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Store frozen wedges in an airtight container or freezer bag until ready to bake and serve. You may have to add an extra two or three minutes to the baking time, but other than that everything is the same!
Back on the blogging bandwagon! Woo! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve already figured out that I am an excuse MACHINE. I could try to justify my week long absence by proffering excuses until you put your foot down and scream, No more! Please! Spare me! Luckily I know, because you’ve all lived in the world and continue to do so, that you understand how some weeks are, how your mind switches to autopilot in order to get everything done. I’ve missed being in the kitchen and I’ve missed writing about my baketivities. Now my schedule is finally normalizing and I can go back to doing what I love best – leisurely AM baking.
In order to keep to blog-schedule, I tried to make breakfast yesterday (for Breakfast Tuesday) and it was the most epic of fails. I don’t think it was the recipe, because it seemed to be pretty solid, so it must have been me, and more specifically my state of mind. This morning, to make up for my Breakfast Tuesday mishap, I wanted to do something breakfast-y but also something quick, as my Wednesdays meaning going into work a little earlier than normal. I remembered reading quite a bit about scones since my last attempt, about how the actual putting together of scone dough should not take more than five minutes. I also read in many, MANY places that using your hands is the best (and only?) way to get the best texture. I haven’t made many scones in my life – due to fear and ignorance – and now that I’m back in the baking game maybe I’ll give it another go?
Not to toot my own horn or anything… but the scones were amazing. Tender and light on the inside and crispy on the outside, studded with chunks of chocolate and flecked with fresh, green mint from my roommate’s deck garden. I might be a believer of the hands-only method to scone making. Time will tell. The only thing I would do differently next time is up the mint. The mint got a little overwhelmed by the chocolate and the cream. Other than that, I’m quite content, sitting here, eating freshly baked chocolate scones and writing to you!
Cream Scones with Chocolate Chunks and Mint
(Recipe adapted from Epicurious, originally Lemon Cream Scones)
Yields 12 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup whipping cream
heaping 1 cup chopped dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shredded fresh mint
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface.
2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add chocolate chunks and mint and mix until even dispersed through flour mixture.
3. Add cream to flour mixture and, with your hands (recommended!) or wooden spoon, mix just until combined. This step should not take more than 20 seconds; there will be chunks of flour and extra wet batter, that’s okay.
4. Turn dough out onto prepared floured surface and knead dough just until it comes together, 4 or 5 times. Pat dough into a wedge ½ to ¾ inch thick and cut into 12 wedges.
5. Place wedges on prepared baking sheet about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until lightly golden on top.
6. Let scones cool on baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool until room temperature, or, if you’re impatient like me, until cool enough to eat.
If desired, you can freeze the unbaked scone wedges and bake as needed, adding 3 or 4 minutes to the original baking time. Scones are at there best the day they are made, so I usually bake one or two and freeze the rest for another day!
February 1, 2011
Because communication is key, I’m going to confess that I fear the scone. Making the scone, at least, because scones are usually my breakfast baked good of choice at any given café. Why, then, do I fear the scone?
The first reason is that they are time sensitive, meaning that as soon as they come to room temperature the quality of the scone decreases rapidly. They are best eaten the day they are made, and if you don’t plan on eating all of the scones right away, you either freeze the dough unbaked, or stick them in the freezer just as they cool to room temperature. Anyone who bakes more than a few times a week understands how your freezer can look after a few weeks, full to the brim of flour and wrapped baked goods.
My second reason isn’t really a reason, but if something means something to you it acquires legitimacy, at least in your head and in your space. Maybe. I might be wrong. Not the point. In my circle of friends, acquaintances, and unknowing “testers”, I am really the only one who prefers scones, and who will heartily enjoy one any moment of any day. I could never expect someone to eat a scone if they don’t prefer them, because I couldn’t offer someone something knowing that they’d rather be eating something else. It would make me feel bad.
The third reason has to deal with preparation and the actual making of scones, not only because I’ve heard horror stories, but I’ve read a ton of scone recipes with very specific instructions. I’ve also read so many different accounts of how a scone “should be” as to puzzle me into paralysis. What if I don’t do it right?
But, ladies and gentlemen, we cannot live in fear forever. In honor of Breakfast Tuesday, I present you with scones. Enjoy with jam or lemon curd or slightly whipped cream, or honey, or whatever your heart desires.
Honey Oatmeal Scones, originally “Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones”
(Recipe adapted from Baking, From my Home to Yours)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats (not the quick-cook variety)
2 tablespoons honey (OR 1/3 cup sugar, just make sure to whisk it with the rest of the dried ingredients in step 3)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, or cinnamon, or cardamom, or just nutmeg and cardamom, or the spice mix of your choice up to ½ teaspoon
½ cup buttermilk (or a teaspoon vinegar mixed with a half cup milk, left to sit for 5 minutes before using)
1 stick and 2 tablespoons, 10 tablespoons, unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes*
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir the egg and buttermilk together in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Whisk the flour, oats, leavening agents, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is homogenous.
4. Drop the pieces of butter into the flour mixture and, using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you see a bunch of pea-sized pieces forming. Keep in mind that there will be pieces of butter of all sizes, which is what you want. This will happen quickly.
5. Add the egg, buttermilk, and honey to the flour and butter mixture. Stir with a fork just until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky and a mess, and there might be some flour left unmixed, which is okay.
6. Knead the dough gently or fold with a sturdy spatula, between 8 and 10 turns.
7. Split the dough in half. Place one half on a lightly floured surface and press it into the shape of a disk, 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Cut into wedges, and place on prepared baking sheet.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, though keep an eye on them. Mine almost burned after exactly 20 minutes. The tops should be golden brown.
9. Form and cut the remaining dough and repeat the baking process OR freeze them on a baking sheet and place them, after freezing, in an airtight container to bake later, adding 2 minutes to the original baking time.
10. Let scones cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Scones don’t keep well, so once the extra scones come to room temperature, wrap them in an airtight container and stick them back in the freezer. I’ll probably keep a few in an airtight container for the next day, but will freeze the rest. Reheat the already baked scones in the oven when you need them.