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 ❤️

 

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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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Maple Oatmeal Scones and Cinnamon Star Bread

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Long before there was the Food Network or The Cooking Channel there was a little show called Martha Stewart Living. There was nothing else like it at the time and the only broadcast that really showcased recipes and home decorating. It began in 1993 and was very popular moving into the late 90s and early ‘00s and, of course, predated the Internet before it exploded and was readily accessible to everyone. And, no dial-up service does not count! Martha had really cornered the market at that time and it was a big deal if she endorsed or promoted a chef or product. I was busy working full time and raising two toddlers with barely a moment to breath, but I never missed Martha’s weekly show. I didn’t have the time, equipment, culinary skill or money to make her recipes but tried to learn as much as possible. One day she introduced a woman who ran a specialty food store in East Hampton called The Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten came on the show and I don’t remember exactly what she made for Martha, but she had my attention. Her show began in 2002 on the Food Network and I have been making her recipes every since.

Back in the early ‘00s the Food Network had shows that were hosted by accrediated chefs to teach skills and techniques that were helpful for home cooks and I tried to absorb all that great information. Now, they give cooking shows to celebrities who have no actual culinary credentials. It’s like when MTV used to play music vidoes instead of the train wreck, “reality” TV programming you find there today. But, I digress!

One of my favorite Ina recipes is her Maple Oatmeal Scones. I have made them so many times over the years that I (almost) don’t need the recipe anymore. I make them for Christmas gifts for our good friends that we see each year over the holiday time frame. There are three of us couples and we take turns hosting a dinner. I hosted last year so tonight we head over to one of their homes. We have a real gift for the other two couples but, if I don’t bring a baked good, the gift will be incomplete.

This recipe comes together quickly. Combine the dry ingredients, add the butter and cut into the dry until the size of peas. I go with very large peas!

Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and four eggs and mix well

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add this mix to the dry and expect an extremely sticky batter!

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I use a lot of flour and pat into a big circle, about ¾ inch thick. You will not be able to knead this dough, its way too sticky. Have lots of flour on hand!

I used a 2 ½ inch round cutter and had a yield of 20 big scones. Be careful to not twist your cutter when stamping out the scones, or you will seal all those great layers that you worked so hard to create!

I made the glaze with the powdered sugar, vanilla and maple syrup but I like a nice, thick glaze, really more like icing, so I used less syrup and just eyeballed the amount until I hit the consistency I wanted.

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Thank you, Ina!

Another delicious recipe I found was Cinnamon Star Bread. I was not going to review this originally so there are no production photos. My family really flipped over this bread so I felt it should be included. I know that there are a lot of star bread recipes out there and I have made savory ones myself but this dough was amazing to work with! It came together quickly and, even though it was cold in my home, the dough rose well with a little extra time. It rolled out nicely after resting and it will be my new go to star bread formula from now on.

It baked up nice and golden and then I added lots of powdered sugar.

I highly recommend both these recipes and hope you enjoy them!

Repurposing to create Christmas Decorations

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“Everything old is new again” is the inspiration behind vintage rag garlands. Or so my out-going, crafty friend tells me. Everyone needs a friend who can come up with great projects that you would never explore on your own. I am one of those lucky people. When my buddy told me to be at her house at 12:30 with 12 vintage Christmas balls, three yards of lace and some treat to share with everyone else, I did not question her. I know better! I also had no idea what we would be doing. Fortunately, a day later, she sent an email with a couple pictures of what we would be making.

So now I had, at least, some idea of what we were trying to accomplish! My friend took an old white bed sheet and dyed it with tea bags to make it look “vintage”. She cut rectangles and notched them in (roughly) equal strips. When we all got to her house, she set us to task. We had to rip the strips and clean off the loose strings-of which there were many!

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She then tied two cords between a set of chairs, the cord was about the length of a fireplace mantel. We took the strips and tied them onto the cord, equal distances to start with and then filled in the spaces with lace, string or colored ribbons. The idea was to choose colors that were complementary to our home décor.

This was the set up as I worked with another lady on our rag garlands.

I have to admit; at this point it looked more like a Halloween decoration with a bunch of ghosts in a row. Adding in the ball garland gave me more hope. This is where the 12 vintage Christmas balls came into play. We strung the balls onto cord, making sure to knot each ball into place so they didn’t slide along the string. This is also an area where I got into a little bit of trouble for not following the assignment correctly. I bought gold Christmas decorations because vintage doesn’t really fit into my home colors. The spirit of the craft is to repurpose old items, but I don’t have any vintage paraphernalia and since I was buying them, I went with what I liked.

When we put the two garlands together, it really started to look like something! I decided that I would try it out on my banister when I got home. In the meantime, even though I had made some crafting faux pas, I was able to redeem myself with the “treat to share” part of the assignment. I brought some gingerbread scones.

The ladies loved them and I do recommend this recipe, if you really like gingerbread!

Then I got on the road and headed home to try out my new decoration.

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It may not be completely vintage, or a total repurposing of older items, but I do like the look and had a great time with some new friends and one very special, crafty lady!