scones-header

SUMMARY: Cream cheese, butter and cream make these scones rich, yet light and airy. These are better than $5.00 scones from your local chain coffee shop.

I actually invented cream cheese scones three years ago.

fair-ribbons-2013Well, no, I didn’t actually invent them. I tweaked the Currant Scone recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible, substituting half the butter for a little bit more cream cheese.

I wanted to make scones with similar ingredients to the Bacon Scallion Cream Cheese dip I make – affectionately known in my house as Heart Attack dip. Then I remembered Rose’s cream cheese pie crust recipe. I thought, if this works for pie crust, it will work for these scones. And it did! I even won a second place ribbon from my Heart Attack scones, which are also my sister’s favorite scones. She is like a begging dog if I even hint I might make them.

So scones have a pretty high hurdle to get over to be better than my modified P&PB recipe.

Of course, Rose surpasses herself with this new scone recipe. They are way easier than the other recipe with the layering of the dough, rolling it out, measuring it, cutting it, recycling the scraps, etc.

The easier recipe put them as equivalent. I think they taste just the tiniest bit better and have a better crumb, which clinches these for me as the better scone.

The night before I made these, I put a bowl and the beater in the freezer to chill for the whipped cream. I never would have thought of using whipped cream. Genius. But that’s why Rose writes cookbooks and I buy them 😉

whipped-creamI whipped the cream first before anything, so that could sit in the fridge.

scones-dry-ingredients-lemon-zestThen I got the dry ingredients together. Since I use King Arthur flour pretty much exclusively, I used half bread and half all-purpose. I also zested the lemon right into the bowl. I may have used more than a tablespoon of zest. But it smelled soooo good and I really didn’t want to wash another bowl or have a half-zested lemon kicking around.

cream-cheese-addedI got out the old pastry blender, which I am more likely to use to make guacamole or egg salad these days, and worked in the cream cheese. Yes I use a food processor for pie crust. But these scones needed a hands-on approach. And I didn’t want to make even more dirty dishes for my human dishwashers.

soaked-dried-berriesI took a look at the dried mixed berries I bought and was not particularly impressed by their dryness. No one enjoys biting into a dessicated bit of fruit in their scone now do they? So I soaked them in some hot water to plump them up a bit. They looked a bit better after their bath, although the color got duller. And they got a little less sweet. I love how they add more sugar to some dried fruit. I get it with cranberries but with strawberries and cherries?

dough-with-fruitI started out with the pastry blender when I added the butter. But when the blades started bending I put it aside and just used my mitts. It worked a lot better, and I felt like a kid again playing with some Play-doh or messing with homemade flour dough. I mixed in the fruit and it was smelling pretty good already.

added-creamI made the well and spooned in the whipped cream. I’m gonna say it again, whipping the cream is genius! I use yogurt in scones because I like a thicker texture than plain cream, plus you get some tang. I always use yogurt in the Heart Attack scones for the texture and extra tang. But cream would be easier to get believe it or not.

scone-dough-diskThe dough came together really nicely and I kneaded it a bit on the counter. I was seriously getting my mind into some scones now! Wrapped up the disk and put it in the fridge.

At this point in the scone process, I went down to the farmer’s market and got some things. And I got a cookie to hold me til I got home and finished the scones.

scones-sugar-toppedWhen I got home, I put everything away, turned on the oven and got the scone dough out of the fridge. I cut them up and put them on the baking sheet with parchment. Since I love some crunch and sparkle on scones, I egg washed them and sprinkled them with demerara sugar before putting them in the oven.

I pulled them out and they looked and smelled so good! The had risen up so nice. My roommate asked what kind of scones they were. When I told her they were dried fruit she was somewhat disappointed, since she likes the other scones better.

finished-sconesBut after letting them cool in a cloth, I offered them up to everyone who was at home. Seriously, three of us ate six of them in like four minutes. They were that good. No butter, just scones in a napkin.

My two roommates were like “OMG these are best scones! Can we eat them all now?”

No! Not everyone was home and my other roommate (yes I live with three other people) was at work. He ate them th next day and said they were very good, but probably would have been better warm. Yeah!

The consensus? Make a double batch the next time! And there will be a next time, oh yes.

 

plated-scone

 

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Brownies-galette

SUMMARY: three kinds of chocolate and three separate layers of flavor elevate these brownies far above anything from a box!

“These brownies are killer!” exclaimed my roommate after eating one.

I have to agree.

Even after spending an entire day working on some component of the brownies, and finishing up the galette.

I thought, nothing can be good enough to be worth all this trouble. No wonder Woody’s mom only broke these out for the holidays. What a pain!

It was totally worth it for these brownies.

Of course I did a few things differently. Some deliberate, some accidental 😉

baked-brownieFirst, I used toasted slivered almonds and chopped hazelnuts. I thought I had pecans, but I guess I used them on the coffee cake I made for the fair. I like almonds and hazelnuts better anyway 😛

chocolate-barsI used darker chocolate for the brownies. I figured that part could take it better than the ganache.

I forgot to wrap the brownie pan with the strips and forgot to spray the parchment! That’s OK nothing got over browned and nothing stuck.

white-chocolateBTW the white chocolate layer? It took me FOREVAH to do it! My problem was that I kept whisking the mixture after I added the eggs to the white chocolate and butter. Whisking seemed to work better than stirring, because I used a round bottom bowl over a pot. But the temperature wouldn’t go up at all. So I stopped stirring, walked a way for a bit, and that seemed to work.

unmolded-browniesI didn’t trim the brownie top (because I would have eaten it) and I used all the white chocolate butter cream (again, because I would have eaten it). I kept everything together in the pan so I didn’t have to worry about drippy ganache. It came out fine 😉

2015-08-23 21.07.31I think I may have found my first recipe for fair baking next year!

About the peach galette. I finished it. YAY! The weather cooled off and I would work pie dough.

2015-08-23 09.38.47I splurged and bought myself a magic dough mat. I also put it in the freezer to cool the dough even more. It seemed to work well, although logistically, it’s a bit hard to wash in my tiny sink.

The dough followed my inverse pie crust rule – the more difficult to roll the dough, the better the crust will be.

baked-galetteI made sure to keep the galette cool before baking it. It was a little leaky but not too bad.

brownie-galette-platedFunny enough I served both the galette and the brownies for dessert. Bad mistake. After eating the brownie, the consensus was that the galette was merely OK! But I brought the other half of the galette to work and my coworkers enjoyed it.

I shared some brownies with the neighbors and the gals at the local coffee/convenience store.


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Needless to say … the peach galette will be delayed 🙁 since my kitchen is too hot to roll out the pastry crust nicely.

I did get the filling done and it’s sitting in the fridge awaiting cooler temperatures!

peach-galette-fillingI entered 3 items to the Altamont Fair for judging: raspberry-champagne cupcakes, carmel-topped salty-sweet peanut butter sandies, and pecan coffee cake.

coffee-cake    raspberry-champagne-cupcakes    peanut-butter-sandies

I got a 3rd place ribbon for the coffee cake, which wasn’t even the best thing! Go figure! And I got $4 in prize money, which paid for a pound of butter and a couple of eggs. I’ll go into more detail about the recipes when I don’t feel like a candle left out in the sun.

2015-ribbonsHopefully it will cool off so I can roll out the pastry and make the galette. And the brownies … I am sure my neighborhood, family and workplace tasters won’t mind having a choice 😉

Later taters! Keep cool!  Aimee

Summary: a starter plus two risings make a surprisingly light, well-flavored and tender fully whole wheat walnut bread.

bread-crumbI don’t like homemade whole wheat bread.

It’s either flavorless or bitter. It’s dry and weighs as much as a cement block.

I don’t like making it either. You either have to trust the market to have reasonably fresh flour (which it usually doesn’t) or drive to your local coop and buy it in bulk because their turnover is better.

This bread changed my mind.

It was full of great flavor, light, tender and really, really good. Plus it had nuts and who doesn’t like nuts?

I did cheat a little. Or maybe a lot. I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour. Yes it looks white to start but it does bake up a little darker. Plus it’s what I had on hand since I don’t use the other whole wheat flour enough to keep it around. I’d rather use my freezer real estate for other things, thank you very much. I made a couple of other changes that you will see later on.

But first, the starter.

wholewheat-starter

My only deviation from the recipe was to mix the water, honey and yeast together first, and let them get acquainted a little before adding the flour. I had regular yeast, not instant, so I thought blooming the yeast first would give it a kickstart and make sure there was some yeasty activity going on under the blanket of flour.

starter-coveredI have never used this particular technique for a starter. The closest I have come was using sourdough. But I think I may try this the next time I make bread, or even pizza dough.

I also let it sit in the bowl a bit longer than called for, only because it was Sunday and I had other projects going on, i.e. laundry 😉

starter-bubblingIt was a little hyperactive from sitting on top of the fridge. But it smelled really good!

roasted-walnuts-sesame-seedsI had already toasted the nuts. And now I know you can skin walnuts like hazelnuts! That is completely awesome. There’s some sesame seeds there too.

Since I didn’t have quite enough walnuts and no walnut oil, I added sesame seeds and used a bit of toasted sesame oil with plain canola oil. Yes this was a “clean out the pantry” baking project.

nuts-addedThe dough came together nicely and it was really sticky. Rose wasn’t kidding about that!

Several hours and two risings later, the dough was looking pretty good.

after-1st-risingIt was still sticky so I was generous with the bench flour.

loaf-formationI formed it up into a loaf. I didn’t work it that much at that point. I just tried to form it up so it would rise evenly.

loaf-ready-for-ovenInto the loaf pan. At that point it was pretty late on Sunday. So I popped it into the fridge to rise overnight. I have had good luck with that in the past. And from sad past experience, I knew I would probably be up early on Monday so I could bake it then.

In this case, when I checked it Monday morning, it really didn’t rise too much in the fridge. I left it in a warm spot while the oven heated up. It didn’t help. I put it in the oven on a baking sheet with a handful of ice cubes anyway.

The whole house smelled like the best bread ever. I guess that’s my reward for getting up early!

baked-loaf-dishAlthough it didn’t rise as much as I wanted, it looked really good coming out of the oven. The crust was going to be soft because I baked in glass. I didn’t mind that.

Before I left for work, I put it on a cooling rack.

baked-loaf-coolingAfter work, I came home to a great snack!

baked-loafIt sliced nicely, since there was no tough crust to break through. Even my household white-bread eaters liked it!

bread-slicesI will definitely using the starter technique again. And probably making more of this bread.

—–

BTW I am very glad this weekend is a make-up weekend. I have fair competition baking to do!

This year I am entering pecan coffee cake, champagne-raspberry cupcakes and carmel-glazed peanut butter cookies.

I will be sharing pictures with everyone, and please keep your fingers crossed!


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

 

Elderberries? All I know about elderberries came from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Embroidered elderberries

I had to look them up to know what they look like! And they look to me like baby grapes.

Unfortunately there were no elderberries to be found, as it isn’t their season yet. But my neighbor still has raspberries! So me and my inner 9 year-old went next door, sat on the wet grass, collected some scratches, and picked some raspberries. I had to remember my old skills from picking raspberries at my great-grandmother’s house and also not eat as many as I picked 😉

raspberry picking

I had already started assembling the crust ingredients. The Cream Cheese crust, my favorite from Rose’s Pie and Pastry Bible!

dry-ingredients-baggedI used the food processor method. All the dry ingredients (pastry flour, salt and baking soda) in a bag, and butter into the freezer overnight, to get everything good and chilled. I ran out of big ziplocks so I made a bag with the Food Saver. I wrapped up the butter in a separate bag. Keeping the crust ingredients cold (or frozen even) does help with keeping the crust tender. BTW this is the best pie crust EVAH – easy to work with and a lot less likely to get tough.

I chilled the wet ingredients for making the crust. I usually use water in crusts, so I made up some ice water. I also put the bottle of vinegar in the freezer to cool it down. Then broke out the food processor.

crust-processing

I put the dry ingredients and cream cheese into the food processor bowl and processed for 20 seconds. Put in the butter and pulsed it a few times. Added the cold water and cold cider vinegar and pulsed til the butter bits were small. I divided the dough, spooning some of it into the bag I used before. I worked the dough in the bag, squishing it so it would stay together. Then I did the same with the rest of the dough mix. When that was done, I wrapped both the pieces separately in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to cool off and relax the gluten.

red-berriesNow for the filling, or part 2. I made a bit of a mistake with the filling. Actually, more like a miscalculation and a mistake. I didn’t have the full 10 ounces of raspberries, only 6 ounces or so. Oops.

But fortunately I had the rest of a bag of frozen mixed berries, which put me at 10 ounces. Yay!

cooked-fillingMy mistake was putting all the fruit in the pan together. Bad move on my part. What I should have done was put in the blueberries and frozen fruit and cooked those to where I wanted them, and just stirred in the raspberries. But no I didn’t do that. Since there was no going back, I just went ahead, stirring everything together so the pan wouldn’t scorch. Sadly, although everything thickened and it tasted pretty good, the filling looked like blueberry soup because the raspberries fell apart. Ah well, lesson learned. Poured it into my big measuring cup and chilled it.

rolled-crust Part 3 – rolling the crust and assembly. I don’t have Rose’s crust rolling mat or silicone rolling pin. But they are both now on my Amazon wish list [*cough* hint *cough*]. I rolled it the old fashioned way, using pastry flour to keep the stickiness down and moving the crust around with help from a bench knife. Not to bad. The cream cheese dough is fortunately pretty good to work with, and I didn’t toughen it up too much with extra flour. [I hope!]

filling-in-crustI poured the cooled filling/blueberry raspberry soup into the crust and added the top crust. I decided against cutting the circles in the top crust. I am glad I did that, because I had [yet another] minor mishap; I put the top crust too far back and ended up not having the top and bottom crusts meet. I tried to patch it but ended up with a bit of a purple top crust. Sigh. Ah well. I cut some slits in the top and put it in the fridge to firm up, again.

This morning, I ended up getting up an hour before I usually get up for work. So I got up, went down to the kitchen, and turned on the oven to preheat it to bake the pie. Got back into bed and read. Got up for the last time 45 minutes or so later, put the pie in the oven, set the timer, and got ready for work. And boy did the baking pie smell good!

baked-pie-topSuccess! It looks pretty good – if you like rustic pies. It didn’t drip out too badly in spite of the patch job. I put it on a wire rack and put it up high so the 4-legged canine children would get into it. Because it is going to be dessert tonight!

2015-07-27 20.08.00And a yummy dessert it is. Had a half-gallon of vanilla bean ice cream all ready to go. Served it right up and no complaints. The crust was reasonably tender and non-cardboard-y.

I think the seediness of the raspberries mirrored the seediness of the elderberries. Plus, to me, real fresh local raspberries have a more subtle and real flavor than the California raspberries found in the plastic clamshell at the market. Sure they may look pretty, but the flavor isn’t the same. The pie has great flavor and the filling set up perfectly.

Now that I know what elderberries are, I know what to do with them if I spot them at the farmers market. Or end up with an unexpected windfall!

Next week: 100% Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf

pie-slice


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Summary – clarified butter creates a tender, nutty cookie that melts in your mouth.

Kourambiethes collage

Ooooo cookies this week! Great! What’s not so great, is it’s summer and H O T! Almost hot enough to melt the butter without help. But I digress.

clarified butter for Kourambiethes

About the clarified butter. The day before baking, I popped the pound of butter into my mini crockpot to melt it. Worked good and I didn’t have to stand over the stove. I poured it out through a strainer with cheesecloth, but the solids on the bottom weren’t particularly solid and the cheesecloth didn’t catch much of it. Yikes.

I ladled out a lot of the ghee and put it in a plastic container. The rest I left in a glass bowl. Put both containers in the fridge and crossed my fingers.

My plan to bake was to do it early Sunday morning. The forecast was a high of 95 and thunderstorms. So in the morning it was before the house turned into a sauna. I soaked my cooling cloth and got to work.

Kourambiethes clarified butterI started heating the oven and got the almond in to toast. I pulled out the clarified butter and it looked great! Nice color. I got it out of the glass bowl, and the milk solids settled out to the bottom of the bowl. Sweet! Just popped the butter brick out of the container and chopped it up a bit. Into the bowl with the sifted powdered sugar. Set the timer for 10 minutes and let it beat.

While I was doing that, I chopped the almonds down. I thought a knife would work but had to break out the mini chopper. And dirty another dish 😉

10 minutes later, I had a bowl of what looked like whipped cream. Cool! Added the other wet ingredients, using Grand Marnier instead of brandy or OJ. Orangey booze? Absolutely.

Added the dry ingredients and the dough came together. I covered it and gave it a rest in the fridge. IKourambiethes on baking sheet needed a rest in the fridge! Instead I had an iced coffee break. And heated up the house again in anticipation of cookies.

Fortified by cold caffeine, I broke out the silpat, baking sheet and cookie scoop. Scooped out a dozen, cooled off my hands, rounded and shaped them up. Into the oven for 8 then 8 minutes.

I got my cooking / sugaring station ready and offloaded my cookies to the rack. I loaded them down with a blizzard of sugar and got a 2nd dozen ready.

I could only bring myself to bake 2 sheets, since the temperature was heading into sauna-land.

raspberriesSo the verdict? Everyone seemed to like them! I tasted too much of the liquor so maybe next time I will use the OJ instead. And wait til cooler weather!

In thanks for treats, my neighbor was nice enough to bring over fresh raspberries from the bushes in her yard. They are so good!

Til next week and ElderBlueberry Pie!

 

 

Kourambiethes finished


 

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Molasses Crumb Cakelets - Part of Alpha Bakers bake-along. It's an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Read more at foodgeekette.com

Summary – short, easily procured ingredient list makes tiny and tasty dairy and egg-free cakes. These would be perfect as part of your Thanksgiving appetizer platter.

Cakelets

For my inagural post, and as a new member of Alpha Bakers, I made Molasses Crumb Cakelets.

I actually made the Fourth of July Cheesecake last week! But couldn’t get the post together in time.

Anyway, I will say that these were way easier than the cheesecake.

I don’t have too many pictures because my phone decided to add a bit of a haze, but you will see some of what I ended up with.

First thing, the ingredient list is short, sweet and easy. The only thing I had to make a trip for was the bottle of molasses.

The other “special” item was the mini-muffin tin. And scoops. I love using scoops for portion control on these kind of things.

These came together really easy. Make some crumbs with the flour, sugar salt and oil. Take some out. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Scoop out, top with crumbs, bake. Super easy.

2015-07-12 10.56.36

Yeah my camera was un-cooperative here. And the baking Pam was a little hyperactive! But they came out pretty good.

2015-07-12 11.29.13

Aren’t they cute? They had a little crust but I liked the texture. 2 bites and gone. Yum!

OK, I also was an idiot did an experiment and baked some like cupcakes in paper. They looked good but when I peeled the paper off, it stuck. Don’t do it.

2015-07-12 11.29.40

 

If I made these again, I would wait til the fall or winter. They weren’t the best thing for mid-July. Of course if you are in the southern hemisphere, and it’s winter, these would be perfect! And I might substitute some honey for molasses and possibly add some cinnamon or other warm spices. These would be pretty good with some goat cheese or mild white cheese, as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. I think I may do that!

2015-07-12 12.13.44

I am really looking forward to next week’ project, Kourambiethes.


 

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.