Sally’s Baking Addiction: May, 2019 Challenge: How To Make Perfect Scones👩🏻‍🍳

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When I saw that Sally had set scone baking as the May challenge, I was both excited and disappointed at the the same time. Excited because I love scones! And so does my family, which means I have baked a lot of scones over the years. I don’t find them to be that difficult, mainly due to all the practice I have had 😂

So I was not expecting this to be much of a challenge. But then I took a closer look at Sally’s recipe. Her method of cutting in the butter (a crucial component to scone baking) was one that I have seen before, but have never tried. More on that later!

The first task was to choose which flavor to make my scones. Sally has quite a large variety from which to select! She has savory recipes as well as the more common, sweet options. We were having house guests this month, so I selected the tried and true, blueberry, which would please all of us for breakfast during their stay.

The first step was to combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.

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Then I chose to mix the wet ingredients and keep it in the fridge, while I cut in the butter. Keeping everything as cold as possible, for as long as possible is crucial to getting fluffy and light scones. Not an easy job in a hot Tucson kitchen 😆

I mixed the heavy cream, vanilla and egg in a 2 cup measure with a spout. I added another ingredient, not specified by Sally’s recipe: Lemon zest 🍋 I love lemon and blueberries together, so you will see the zest in the picture.

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This was whisked up, and placed in the refrigerator for later.

Now comes the new part, for me anyway. Normally, I will cube the cold butter into smallish pieces and use a pastry cutter to work the small cubes into smaller, pea sized pieces. And, that has always worked well! But Sally, and others that I have seen, will use frozen butter and a box grater. IMG_5800

I admit that this has always struck me as messy and time consuming. And, if you are making more than just 8 scones, it is a lot of butter to deal with! In this recipe, there is only 1/2 cup, or 1 stick. So I decided to give it a go.

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This was added to the dry ingredients and cut into the mix, which did not take long given how small the butter pieces were from the grating process.

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The cold, wet mixture was then added..

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as were the blueberries.

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The batter was stirred until the components came together in a loose ball. This was turned out onto a heavily floured counter, and molded into an 8″ circle. As I mentioned before, this was cut into 8 triangles.

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I put these on a tray and left them overnight in the fridge, as I wanted to bake them off, fresh in the morning, for our guests.

The next morning, the scones were brushed with cream and dusted with course sugar. They were baked at 400F for some amount of time (I forgot to set the timer 😉)

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Until golden brown 😋

 

Then it was time to chow down!

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So, was it really necessary to grate the butter?

These scones were delicious! No doubt about it! But they were just as tasty as recipes where I just cut up the butter into very small cubes. I would say, if there is a small amount of butter needed, then grating would be fine. But for those recipes where you are making more than just 8 or 12 scones, and you like to cube the butter, then go right ahead. That will be my plan moving forward.

Do try Sally’s scone recipes! I love her flavor combos ❤️

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: January, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Bagels 😋

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Sally’s first challenge of 2019 finds us back into yeasted breads. Homemade bagels, yum 😋 Now, you probably have figured out that I do love to bake bread. However, I am not a huge consumer of bagels. Not sure why. It may have to do with the fact that they are too large and bready for my taste. But if I get to make them, well, then they can be any size I want! And, any flavor 😉

I kept it simple for this go around. I made her basic recipe, but if you want to change it up, Sally did provide a list of her other tasty varieties!

One item that is truly unique to bagel, or pretzel making for that matter, is barley malt syrup. This is what gives bagels their malt like flavor. You don’t have to use this of course, honey and/or brown sugar can be used instead. But, I decided to order it online, just to be authentic.

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I also opted to do this overnight, as I was kinda busy during this time. Actually, allowing the dough to rise slowly, overnight, allows for a delicious flavor development 😄. So, I mixed up the warm water and yeast.

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Once I saw it was activated, I added the barley syrup, bread flour and salt. And that’s it!

The mixer pulled the ingredients together, and then I kneaded it for another few minutes until the dough was firm.

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This went into an oiled bowl, covered and left overnight in the fridge, to slowly rise.

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The next morning, I allowed the dough to come to room temp, about 2 hours in my house that morning.

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Sally’s recipe called for the dough to be divided into 8 “equalish” pieces. But, you know I can’t just do that! 😂 I did weigh the dough so that the bagels would be similar.

I weighed the bowl with the dough, removed the dough, and weighed the empty bowl to find the total weight of the mixture. 838g of dough, divided by 8 came to, a little over, 104g per bagel.

I divided the dough into 8 pieces and checked them on the scale. A little extra dough here, a little less there…. And, each was ready to be shaped.

The first step was to roll it into a tight ball.

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Then flattened, and a 1-2 inch hole punched into the middle

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Seven more later….

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These were covered and allowed to rest while I prepared the water bath.

Yes, water bath! Bagels (and pretzels) need to be boiled prior to baking. This gives them the crusty exterior and helps them color properly.

The boiling water has more barley malt syrup, but you can use honey. Check out the color of the boiling solution with the syrup!

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Once the mixture had boiled, I added the bagles and cooked them 1 minute per side.

It took a little time, but this step is quite important. Once all were boiled, an egg wash was applied. I decided to add some course salt to the top. We had been given a special sea salt from our yoga trip to Mexico last year, so I used that.

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Now they were ready for the oven!

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The bagles were baked at 425F for 20 minutes, until dark brown

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After they cooled, we dug in! I know that most people associate bagels with cream cheese, and that is delicious. But I like mine with goat cheese and honey 🍯

 

A great start to this year of baking challenges 🤩 And this was not hard! It really is simple to make bagels at home, and they freeze well if you have extra😊💕

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Or better yet, join me in the next challenge😁👩🏻‍🍳

Is it a biscuit or a savory scone?

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I have been noticing recipes for savory scones for quite some time, and they are fantastic! I have made a few of those recipes and have really questioned the difference between biscuit baking and scone formulas. They have the same basic ingredients: flour, leavening agent, salt, butter and milk or buttermilk. Sugar seems to be a key difference in that biscuits have less than scones, yet savory scones have very little sugar as well. Then there is the similarities in the basic method. Both biscuits and scones have cold butter (some biscuits have cold shortening in some combination as well) which is a requirement if you wish to have light, flaky products. So, when do you call it a biscuit and when should it be referred to as a scone? Here is the rule at our house: if it’s dinner time then it is a biscuit, and if it is breakfast or brunch, then it is a scone. Either way, these are delicious!

These are made with roasted sweet potatoes. I word about this ingredient. I know that different areas of the country call these by various names. Whether they are called yams or golden sweet potatoes really doesn’t matter because they all taste great. I like to use the orange sweet potatoes from my local grocery store because of the color of the biscuit/scones.  Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong!

Begin by preheating an oven to 425°F and roasting your yam or sweet potato until it is soft to the touch. Allow it to cool completely.

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The vegetable is combined with fresh ground nutmeg and buttermilk and ground in a food processor until smooth.

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I also use the food processor to combine the flour, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. This mixture is quickly pulsed to mix.

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1 1/2 sticks of cold butter is added and pulsed until it is the size of small marbles, or peas.

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The two mixtures are combined until a soft, sticky dough forms.

The dough is turned out onto a floured board. Resist the urge to use a rolling pin as the dough is too soft and tacky to roll out. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a circle, approximately 3/4 of an inch thick and, using a 2 1/2 inch floured, fluted biscuit cutter, punch out the discs.

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Just to confuse the biscuit/scone controversy even further, I brushed the tops with melted butter (like a biscuit) and sprinkled them with vanilla sugar (like a scone).

These were baked at 425°F for 25 minutes.

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They are nice and light, just as a biscuit or scone should be, and they rose nicely with many layers.

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Whatever you choose to call them, you will be happy you gave them a try!

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Sweet Potato Savory Scones

  • Servings: about 12, 2 1/2 inch scones
  • Difficulty: easy
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These savory pastries are a flavorful addition to your dinner or as a slightly sweet treat at Sunday brunch

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 lb sweet potatoes, 2-3 small potatoes or 1 large one

-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

-2 to 4 Tablespoons buttermilk, cold

-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-3 Tablespoons brown sugar

-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon allspice

-3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-1 1/2 sticks butter, cold

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Poke the potatoes with the tines of a fork and bake until tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Allow the potato to cool and then peel and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the nutmeg and 2 Tablespoons of the buttermilk. Process until smooth and add more buttermilk, 1 Tablespoon at a time, to thin the puree if needed. Set aside.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to briefly combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small marbles or peas. Fold in the sweet potato mixture until just combined, do not over mix.
  3. Turn out the soft, sticky dough onto a well floured counter top. Pat the dough, with floured hands, into a disc 3/4 inch thick. Cut out scones with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 425°F until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

ENJOY!

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Maple Oatmeal Scones

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This is my family’s all time scone request. They never seem to get tired of this wonderful combination of oats, maple syrup and frosting, so much frosting! This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten, I really change very little and if you follow her recipe to the letter, you will not be disappointed! I decided to write up the recipe anyway for a couple reasons. For one, a few people asked my to and for another, I wanted to work on my short coding skills. I am new to using html code to embed recipes and would like to practice this skill.

This recipe comes together so easily that I did not take many production photos. The dough is sticky but it does have a major advantage in that you can mix and cut the scones out ahead of time and keep them in the fridge (or longer in the freezer) and bake off what you need in the morning.

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I wrap the scones loosely with plastic wrap the night before

The next morning I select the amount I want and transfer to a new pan with a parchment paper.

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You have a couple options here. You can brush the tops with an egg wash to facilitate browning. I recommend that if you plan to leave them plain or add a light glaze. Since I am using a frosting consistency, the tops are not visible, I omit the egg wash.

After the scones have cooled completely, add the frosting. Bonus: these are fantastic with coffee!

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Enjoy!

 

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Maple Oatmeal Scones

  • Servings: About 24, 21/2 inch scones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pure maple syrup, buttermilk and oats combine to give these scones a sweet flavor and nutty texture

 credit:Ina Garten

Ingredients

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1 cup whole wheat flour

-1 cup old fashioned oats, plus extra for garnish

-2 Tablespoons baking powder

-2 Tablespoons vanilla sugar

-2 teaspoons kosher salt

-1 pound, cold unsalted butter, diced

-1/2 cup cold buttermilk

-1/2 cup pure maple syrup

-4 extra large eggs

frosting:

-1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

-1/2 cup maple syrup

-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking power, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter into the dry ingredients, starting on low speed, until the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Separately combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs. Add to the butter flour mixture and combine just until incorporated, this dough will be sticky.
  4. Dump the dough onto a well floured counter top and pull the dough together. Working with floured hands, pat the dough into a 3/4 inch round and cut out scones using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place the scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes until browned.
  5. Make the icing: use the proportions listed to make a thin glaze which can be drizzled over the scones once they have cooled. Or adjust the proportions to create a thick frosting consistency by adding more powdered sugar than listed. Sprinkle with oats for garnish.

 

I prefer to use old fashioned oats instead of instant as they add more texture. Also, if I were making a thin glaze where the top of the scone would show, then I would use an egg wash before baking to give the tops a nice brown color.

Another time saving tip that I often use is to make the scones ahead of time by cutting our the scones and placing them all on one pan, wrapping with plastic wrap and storing in the refrigerator. The next day I can bake off all or some of the scones. They will store in the refrigerator for a week or longer in the freezer, if needed.

 

 

 

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Working on my photography at the beach

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This weekend I spent with me, myself and I. My husband went to Spokane to run in the Bloomsday event. This is a huge race that he does with his coworkers. They leave early on Saturday morning for the 1 hour flight and head straight to a golf course where they proceed to drink all day and, somehow, play a round or two. They spend the night and get up early to join the 30,000 other folks for the annual 12K (7.5 mile) run, have lunch, drink some more beverages and then fly home Sunday night. That meant that I was on my own to run a 9 mile training run so I figured that after I ran I would take off to the Washington coast and work on my photography skills (such that they are!).

I left for the shore at 1pm on Saturday and arrived at 4pm. I was staying at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino on, you guessed it, Quinault Beach. I dropped off my bag and immediately headed out to the shoreline.

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As I exited the hotel, I took a shot before I entered the beach

 

These images were from the shore, looking back at the resort. The sky was amazing!

 

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The property had a private boardwalk to enter the beach

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It was windy, and cold to be sure, but the sun was shining.

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The tide was out quite a ways and the beach was covered with jellyfish.

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There were a few seagulls out and about. This one is the same as the bird in the picture that is found at the start of the post.

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I really love the cloud cover. Part of our photography class is playing with the white balance. We are learning how to shoot in cloudy and bright conditions. I played around with this function to get this image.

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Another area of focus in the class is depth analysis. Here I tried to capture the different growth levels of the plant both above and below the surface of the water.

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I switched to my zoom lens to get a little closer to the waves and this seagull.

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By now I was quite cold and ready to head inside for some hot coffee. Sunset was at 8:34 and I had just enough time to settle into my room, have dinner and get back out to the shore with my tripod in tow.

It was extremely windy and the sand was really blowing along. I tried to capture the feeling of movement by using a longer exposure setting. What do you think? Can you see the sand moving?

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I will keep working on that!

These next shots were on aperture priority setting, and the white balance was set to cloudy to make the colors more visible. I should also say that I did not use any filters.

 

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I decided to swing around and look at the clouds in the east as well.

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Moving back to the west again, I tried positioning the sun in different fields of view.

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That was a long as I could stand the cold! I went back to my room and had a hot bath, read a good book and had a great night’s sleep!

The next morning I went for a long walk on the beach sans camera. I just wanted to absorb the beauty, breath in the salty air and stretch my sore muscles-they were definitely feeling that 9 mile run the day before! With my soul refreshed I packed up, checked out and went 5 miles down the road to the city of Ocean Shores. This was a completely different experience! Where Quinault Beach was quiet and mostly deserted, Ocean Shores was crazy, populated and chaotic. There were cars on the beach driving around, horse trailers set up for tourists to ride on and motorized bicycles buzzing around. Why would anyone want to drive all the way to the shore to then drive on the beach! What happened to listening to the waves, feeling the sand in your toes and getting away from it all? I didn’t get it!

There were some standard sights that you usually get at the beach, such as people flying kites.

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And the ocean here looked a lot like the last beach, but the clouds were not as impressive today. At least it was warmer, and I did appreciate that.

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The birds here were insane. Maybe it was because there were so many people around who left their food unattended. The flocks were massive and the small birds were wicked fast. I decided to try to capture some the fast moving objects by moving into shutter priority mode and set it to 800. I can’t tell you how many shots I snapped trying to get a sharp image, but I got a few to my surprise!

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I was getting a headache trying to catch the little birds so I turned my attention to the slower, gulls. I managed to get a couple good ones.

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Then, out of nowhere one of the flocks turned right at me!

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They veered off at the last second, thankfully!

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That was enough for me-I am not really all that comfortable around birds. Especially when there are so many of them. I decided to pack it in for the weekend. I made one last stop for lunch before the long ride home in Sunday traffic.

 

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This granola with greek yogurt and berries was delicious! I had a great, albeit short trip and had a lot of fun with my camera. Next time I think I will skip the touristy beach and just hang out on the calm, serene shoreline. Minus the deadly attack birds!

Cinnamon Apple Babka

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As you well know by now, I do love to bake bread! I have been wanting to try a babka for some time and finally got around to developing this one. This is a bread that is slightly sweet and you can amp it up with more filling but we like a little less fruit and more of that bread flavor! I had a lot of apples after a recent Costco trip so I have been working them into every dish possible! This recipe can easily make two loaves, and I have included those options in the recipe located at the bottom of this post. Today, however, I decided to make a large, braided loaf and have also included that option, should you feel the need to have an enormous sweet bread centerpiece for your table!

This enriched dough begins with the making of a sponge, which is just water, yeast and sugar that has time to allow for the yeast to activate. Start by combining the yeast, brown sugar and temperature controlled water and let is sit for 30 minutes.

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After blooming the surface will have small bubbles and there will be a yeasty aroma

Next add the flour, oil, salt, egg yolks and eggs to the sponge.

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Knead the dough until a smooth, but slightly sticky ball forms and place in a lightly greased, large bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon and apple filling. Whisk together the cinnamon, sugar and flour in a small bowl and set aside. The most important part of preparing the apples is to extract as much moisture as possible so that your dough will not be soggy. I did this by peeling, coring and grating the apples then placing them in a double lined paper towel and squeezing the water from the apples. There is a surprising amount of water that will drain out. I did this in small batches and cheesecloth would work well, but I didn’t have any on hand, so paper towels it had to be! Place the dried apple pieces into a bowl and immediately add the lemon zest and lemon juice, tossing to coat. Then add in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside until the dough is ready.

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Now comes the tricky part of shaping and filling the bread. I will refer you to this excellent tutorial from King Arthur Flour on how to shape babkas. This site has all the options that I mention in the recipe with step by step instructions and pictures. At this point you need to decide if you want two loaves or one braided loaf. In either case you begin the same way, divide the risen dough into two equal portions.

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Roll one portion out to about 9″ X 18″ and spread half the cinnamon apple filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the perimeter. Start with the long side and roll into a log shape, much like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Pinch the bottom seam and the ends shut to contain the fillings. Repeat with the second portion of dough.

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At this point you may opt to make two loaves using the classic twist, or the sliced braid methods discussed on the King Arthur site and my recipe write up, I will discuss the process for making the single, braided loaf.

Begin by slicing the log lengthwise to form 4 “ropes”.

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Working with the filling side up, make a plus sign with the intersection at the middle of each rope. Then repeat with the other two strips to form a second plus sign that interlocks with the first one.

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Working clockwise, fold every other strip over the neighboring end, then repeat with the ends that extend but go in the opposite direction (counterclockwise) this time. Here is the  King Arthur photos for reference (they use their chocolate babka).

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You will have some ends left over, just tuck them under the loaf. Place the loaf onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to proof for another 45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and baked thorough the center.

While the bread cools mix the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, cinnamon extract, vanilla seeds and slowly adding enough milk or water to create a drizzling consistency. When the bead has cooled completely, drizzle with the glaze.

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I know that there are a lot of steps for this but it is so worth it! If you are not up for the braid, then try the simple loaf shapes highlighted on the King Arthur site and let me know what you think! Happy baking!

cinnamon apple babka recipe

 

Hot Cross Buns, It must be Spring!

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I love this particular Hot Cross Bun recipe. It is a little more complex than others that I have seen, with a few extra steps, but it is hard to argue with the results! Like most other formulas out there, this one uses the straight dough method for the rolls themselves, and similar instructions for combining the batch of cross dough, but it is the spiced bun glaze that really sets this recipe apart from the pack.

This recipe is from a culinary cookbook, I have mentioned in the past that culinary texts are written differently than standard cookbooks or recipes in general. I have adapted this and made a few changes but the format will be by weight and volume for the most part.  One additional step done here is to condition the dried fruit. This step requires a 2 hour, minimum rest, so plan ahead! However, after that step the recipe moves along smoothly since it is a straight dough method, everything goes in together and combined quickly.

The flour, butter, sugar, yeast, milk powder, salt, vanilla paste, eggs and spices are combined first then the temperature controlled water is added. Once the dough has pulled together and is soft and pliable the dried fruits are added.

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The dough is allowed to rise, covered on the bench until doubled in size (about 30 minutes)

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It is then degassed and folded into thirds, allowed to rest again for 15 minutes. This lets the dough relax and is easier to portion and shape. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 oz portions to be rounded and panned 5 rows by 6 rows for a total of 30, rather large, buns!

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yes, I do weigh them-this one was a little big and had to have a pinch removed!

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The rolls are covered and allowed to proof until doubled which takes about an hour

While the rolls proofed I made the cross dough which is applied right before they go in the oven. The cross dough is pastry flour, butter and milk which is combined and mixed until smooth.

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The cross dough was put into a disposable pastry bag that had been fitted with a plain tip.

This was piped onto the individual rolls to form the cross pattern.

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The pan went into a 375°F preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the desired color was achieved. This particular cross dough is not sweet. As I said before it is just flour, butter and milk. Many other recipes use cream cheese or other flavored icing and apply it at the end of the baking process. This recipe uses a lemon, ginger simple syrup to give the rolls flavor and shine.

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This bun glaze is water, sugar, ground ginger, lemon juice, lemon zest and cream of tartar. It should be made ahead of time and chilled before applying to the hot rolls.

As soon as the rolls come out of the oven the glaze is generously applied.

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They are shiny, sweet, sticky, fruity and delicious! The extra steps are worth it!