Category: scones

Drunken cherry scones to clean out the pantry.

As of this past week, there’s a different feeling in the air. It’s crisp in the morning, and even when the sun comes out, there’s a little bite to the day that’s distinctly fall-like. And fall-like weather means more baking. The idea to make these came to me when I was faced with a shit-ton of open jars of jam in my refrigerator. I knew I had to use them up, and soon, and using them as accompaniment to toast, yogurt or English muffins just wasn’t cutting it. Not to mention the bags of Trader Joe’s dried fruit I had. So I knew I had to do something. I had to do something that would use up some of this- quickly.

Before you start, don’t even lie to me. Don’t even lie to me & tell me you don’t do this. Don’t even try to sit there, looking my blog straight in the face, saying “Nope. I never, ever have an exorbitant amount of ______ in my pantry at any given time that needs to be used up.” Because if you do I’ll know you’re nothing more than a bald-faced liar.

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EVERYONE has that problem. Everyone. Everyone in modern society has this conundrum. Unless you’re one of those people that live in those tiny houses and have one pair of shoes per family member and a bed that comes out of the wall. In that case, you most likely do not have the problem of too many boxes/containers/bags/bottles/jars of anything. If you’re one of those people, you most likely use all your open jars before opening another, and you don’t make/buy anything new unless the old stuff is used up. So if you are indeed one of those people, you probably don’t need to read this post, but please feel free to continue to do so because you might like the scones. Also, please write and tell me how all that is working out for you because I can’t fathom it. Seriously.

I can’t even imagine living without my extensive tea collection. My tea collection alone wouldn’t fit in those little houses. Forget about my shoes… or worse yet, my bags! Who am I kidding? My jadeite and appetizer plate collection wouldn’t fit in one of those houses.

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For the rest of us, those who live in regular-sized (or over-sized) houses & apartments (particularly those batshit crazy “extreme couponers” who buy 600 jars of jam for $.50 each with coupons when it’s on sale or those among us who like to pickle & preserve), we need things like this. We need to come up with unique ways of using up those preserves we buy or make too much of before they’re bound for the garbage. Despite my “if it smells good, and it looks good, it’ll still taste good” theory… some things just do have an expiration date. And I hate to waste my time and money by throwing anything homemade out. I even toss leftover baked goods outside for the birds & squirrels to nosh on, that way at least something is eating it, and it doesn’t turn out to be a total loss. So when my pantry starts to get overloaded with open bags of dried Bing cherries or or my fridge starts to be overrun with open jars of jams & preserves, I start to brainstorm ways to use them up so that they don’t end up going in the trash. And that is also why you’ve been seeing a lot of jam-filled or jam-topped desserts lately. I have to use all this stuff up! I’ve got new jars from this season and I can’t be letting my designated “preserves & pickles” cupboard overflow into the other cabinets. Then I’d really never find anything. Other than baked goods that incorporate my delicious jams, I don’t know how else to solve the problem. I already make small-batches. And trust me, I give more than enough of this stuff away. Oh… the trials & tribulations of the modern day cook. I guess I’ll just have to keep baking!

And that, my friends, is how you end up with drunken cherry scones. Well that and a post from Joy the Baker about cherry jam cookies. That in turn, made me think of jam scones.

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‘Cause see, people usually put jam ON their scones. So why not bake them with the preserves already on them?

This is my favorite scone recipe. It can be modified and redone in a million different ways- you can also halve it if you’re making single-layer scones. Last time I made it, I used chocolate chunks and despite being so simple, they’re everyone’s favorite scone. But you can do just about anything you want. It would be fantastic if you used a little lemon zest in the dough, omitted the cherries & sugar topping, then filled them with lemon curd. Bake ‘em, take ‘em out, let ‘em cool and top them with a light icing. Yum. The same thing could be done with an orange marmalade filling: just use a little orange zest in the dough, or use raspberry jam as filling and use chocolate chunks in the scones themselves. Or, you can just make plain scones & use a regular ol’ strawberry jam filling. You can also substitute raisins, dried cranberries or nuts for the dried cherries, and use any kind of jam, preserve or marmalade you want to fill them. They’re really that versatile. PERFECT for using up all those random edible thingies you have laying around. You can toss just about anything in them; chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit chunks, etc, etc, etc. Just like the muffins I made a few weeks ago, you can add or do just about anything with them! Go nuts. Use your imagination.

Or just stick with me & make drunken scones.

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DRUNKEN CHERRY SCONES (DRIED BING CHERRY SCONES WITH VANILLA VODKA CHERRY PRESERVE FILLING)

Makes about 8 double layer scones

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup dried Bing cherries (or Montmorency, or whatever kind you want)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg white
  • 1 jar vanilla vodka cherry preserves
  • Turbinado sugar (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400° degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate frozen butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in cherries.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.) Divide into four equal dough balls.
  4. Place two of the balls on a lightly floured surface and pat each into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Cover one circle with a few tablespoons of the cherry preserves. Gently lift the other circle and place it on top. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 4 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the other two dough balls. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

For whatever reason, mine came out incredibly rustic & rough around the edges. Not that I’m complaining.

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And there you have it. Drunken cherry scones that pair perfectly with Bing Cherry with Almond tea from Davidson’s. It’s great to serve pastries drenched in alcohol at a tea party, dontcha think? Nobody ever expects it. It’s a pleasant surprise. I happen to think the very fact that the jam is already baked into the scones is a pleasant surprise too! And it also uses up some of that open jam in your fridge & those open bags of dried fruit in your cabinets that are rapidly expiring. And… if you’ve got an open container of heavy cream just sitting there in the fridge, why not make some whipped cream in a jar to serve with these? If not, then regular clotted cream works too. I myself would stick with some homemade whipped cream. I don’t like clotted cream (the name makes me think of blood clots; its clear I’m the daughter of a former FDNY-EMS Lieutenant and that I’ve watched way too many medical shows).

I find these are best served on/with vintage items, especially vintage jadeite, like this Jane Ray set that was my grandmother’s. I love vintage jadeite. Does anyone else have a jadeite (or Depression glass) obsession like I do?

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Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I have so many other preserves in my fridge, it’ll take me at least another month to use them all up, even if I make two baked items a week with them. But it’s a step in the right direction. And for you: if you’ve got more dried fruit and/or nuts (heh, I said nuts) in your cupboards than you can handle, try your hand at making some of these dried fruit conserves. I’ve got a few different recipes and they’re all excellent with oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream and on pound cakes. And these muffins are amazing for incorporating not only jams or preserves, but also anything else you want to use up. So go get on it!

This recipe was featured on Redbook Magazine‘s online slideshow: “Boozy Breakfasts: How to Sneak Booze into your Brunch”, August 2013. See it here.

Would you like some scones & tea? Some jelly? Some tea-jelly?

Now that Halloween is over, it seems like its a landslide right through the holidays. Although before the mad rush of December starts, & before the long cold winter sets in (blah), it’s nice to take advantage of the down time, lazy weekends & of course, the beautiful fall weather. It finally got here! We had to battle 80° degree days, tons of rain & even snow right before Halloween, then 35° degree nights for a while there… but finally we got a bit of fall-ish weather. Cooler, but actually more on the cold side. Drier. Gorgeous changing leaves finally. Nice weather for a heavy sweater & apple cider or tea around the fire pit at night. It’s no secret I like my tea. All kinds, from regular old Lipton, to fancier ones like Stash’s Earl Grey Black or Licorice Spice, to classic ones like Twining’s Irish Breakfast, to healthy ones like Yogi Egyptian Licorice to even fancier ones like, oh, say anything from Teavana. Ahh, Teavana.

Teavana teas are the best. I am in love with them. My personal favorites (for drinking) are Cacao Mint Black, Samurai Chai Mate/White Ayurvedic Chai blend and JavaVana Mate. However I haven’t found one yet that I’m not into. My mother has a ton of them that her friend Mara (hi, Mara!) sent her in a ‘Tea Lovers’ gift set, so that’s where I go when I want to try a new flavor. Or when I want to experiment. Like, for example, what I wanted to do when I got this particular book.

A few months ago, I ordered a book that I had been sorta lusting over for a while. It’s called Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff/photographs by Rinne Allen. It arrived on a warm (okay- muggy, hot & slightly stifling), beautiful August day during which I had been out gardening, so I only briefly flipped through it at first. After cleaning up, coming inside & showering, I settled in with a can of ice cold Coke Zero & pored over every page. What a freakin’ gorgeous book! Filled with amazing recipes (not just canning but baking too!) and glorious photos. If you don’t have it, buy it. You won’t regret it.

One of the recipes in this book was a recipe for tea jelly. Just jelly made with tea. Well, tea, sugar, pectin and lemon juice. Sort of like an iced tea jelly, or a sweet tea jelly. I knew I had to make it. So I did. And the tea I used was Teavana’s Frutto Bianco Pearls white tea, which is described as:

Tropical fruits effortlessly complement hand-rolled, delicate white tea pearls. A blend of kiwi, coconut and candied tropical fruit bits tempt you to pull up a hammock and sip your cares away! Ingredients: white tea, apples, rose hips, lemongrass, citrus pieces, kiwi bits, coconut chips, lemon myrtle, candied pineapple & papaya.

-From Teavana.com

I know, it sounds to die for. It is. And I thought it’d make a fantastic jelly.

The tea in the canister.

It did indeed make a beautiful looking jelly…

I have to say, I love all the recipes for tea-infused jellies & jams (as if you couldn’t tell?). It’s such an easy way to really make an average every day item stand out. It turns an ordinary preserve into something different, something that people can’t quite put their finger on. My family has a big history with tea; being Irish, my Nana Agnes’ side of the family drank tea like it was going out of style..I was raised on it, although coffee was a big part of life too, tea seemed to be the main component. It was always around.. black teas, green teas, herbal teas, sweetened with milk & sugar or just honey. When I was sick as a kid, my mom or nana would make me a big mug of tea with milk & sugar, and even now whenever I’m not feeling my best, I find that it’s a great cure. Tea is a huge part of my childhood memories. Now that I’m older, & my tastes have matured slightly, I like fancier stuff; but I always have a soft spot for a hot cup of black tea or English breakfast tea with milk & sugar.

So I made the jelly, labeled it, and put it aside. I sent a jar to Lyns (upon her request & also as payment for all the chutney’s she sent!) and promptly shoved my jars to the back of the line. Then recently, one Sunday morning, I was looking for another jam and found it! And I thought, “I need to make something special to serve this with.” So I took out a jar and I made some scones from the book, Regan’s Oat Scones, just specifically to have with this delicious jelly, for a brunch/lunch kinda thing.

Speaking of, you can use any tea you like, even herbal tea if you can’t tolerate caffeine, to make this jelly. Liana says she’s had excellent results with Oolong & Earl Grey, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use pretty much any kind of tea there is. Even pre-measured tea bags (although you’d typically need about 3 teabags to each tablespoon loose tea required). Trader Joe’s makes a white pomegranate tea that’d probably give lovely results, & my mother drinks a spicy vanilla chai by Bigelow that would also make a great jelly. Peppermint teas, citrus teas, musky teas. EXPERIMENT! Use a wintery blend for winter, a spring-y one for warmer weather… it’d be such a fun way to try new teas in a different way.

TEA JELLY (adapted from Liana Krisstoff’s book, Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Makes 3 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons loose tea leaves
  • 2 ¼ cups boiling water
  • ¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 cups of Green Apple Pectin stock (see recipe below) or what I did- 1 package Certo liquid pectin

Directions:

  1. Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot (in water) in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Put the tea leaves in a heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes*, then pour through a sieve into a 6-to 8-quart saucepan.
  3. Stir the pectin/pectin stock, lemon juice and sugar into the tea. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers about 220° F on a candy thermometer or a small dab of it passes the freezer test (place some on the frozen plate and put back in the freezer for one minute, then remove; if the mixture wrinkles when you nudge it, it’s ready), about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a clean, folded dish towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
  5. Ladle the hot jelly into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid & band on each jar, adjusting the band so it’s fingertip tight.
  6. Return the jars to the canning pot in a canning rack, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to the folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours, except to check the seal after one hour by pressing down on the center of each lid; if it can be pushed down it hasn’t sealed, and must be refrigerated immediately. After 12 hours, label sealed jars & store.

Instead of printing labels, I just tied some of the labels that come with the book (YES! Labels come with the book! SO CUTE!) on with some twine.

How cute are they? Very. How awful is my handwriting? Very.

The deliciously special item I chose to make to eat it with was a scone. Not just any scone- but one made with oats, yogurt and honey (or maple syrup, but I used honey). Add the tea-infused jelly as a topping and it’s a free train ride to dreamy-town. I love scones anyway, but these are totally different than any other scones I’ve made. And with the jelly; seriously just forget it. No words. I halved this recipe because 5 eggs was a bit ridiculous at the time, although I wish I hadn’t! You can never have too many scones… especially these beautiful scones right here.

REGAN’S OAT SCONES (from Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oats, plus extra for sprinkling (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 5 large eggs
  • turbinado sugar (optional, for sprinkling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using your fingertips, two knives held together, or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey or maple syrup, and 4 of the eggs. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated; do not overmix.. The dough will be somewhat sticky.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands, then pat the dough out to ¾” to 1″ inch thick. Cut into 2 ½” inch rounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Gather up leftover dough, handling it as little as possible, and pat it out to cut more rounds. If the kitchen is warm, put the baking sheets in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to firm up, so they don’t spread too much in the oven.
  5. In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg together with 2 teaspoons cold water and brush the tops of the scones with it. Sprinkle with oats or turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, until deep golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably split & spread with jam or jelly.

I got about 19 scones using the above recipe halved & using my 3-inch biscuit cutter to make them. You may think that’s plenty, but not when there are a ton of grabby hands around asking for baked goods all the time! I also used oats & gold crystal sugar (instead of turbinado) on top. They were so amazing, I could barely stop eating them. Thankfully, they’re (slightly) healthier than most scones. Sweet, but not too sweet. They’d work beautifully alongside a savory jelly too, I bet. Like a pepper jelly that’s on the sweeter side?

As I mentioned above in the tea jelly recipe, the author Liana prefers to use a homemade pectin stock for her jellies & jams. I am not so particular, but I’ll include the directions for doing so here just in case you’re far more ambitious than I. I’m lazy, remember? But now is a great time to do this because of the crazy amount of apples available. It’s apple season, after all. Make some & stock up on it if you’re not a lazy bitch. Like me.

GREEN APPLE PECTIN STOCK (also from Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples

Directions:

  1. Cut the apples into eighths, removing the stems, and put the apples- peels, cores, seeds & all- in a 6-to 8-quart saucepan. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely broken down and the peels have separated from the pulp, 30-40 minutes.
  2. Set a very large, very fine mesh sieve (or jelly bag) over a deep bowl or pot. Pour the apples and their juice into the sieve and let drain for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally but not pressing down too hard on the solids; discard the solids. You should have about 5 ½ cups juice.
  3. Rinse the saucepan and pour in the apple juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the juice is reduced to about 3 cups (pour into a large heatproof measuring cup to check it), about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a clean container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for several months.

Lyns had tried the jar I sent her long before I remembered mine, and she said it was amazing- I have to agree. This tea made a spectacular jelly! It also just goes to show you that you don’t have to make the pectin stock to get a delicious jelly. Of course, I’m sure it feels slightly more rewarding if you do. But lazy bitches unite- we don’t need no stinking apple stock. We have modern convenience at our fingertips.

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And the scones, they are phenomenal. Together, they’d be a great pair on Thanksgiving morning for breakfast. They have a sweet/not sweet borderline flavor that makes them more biscuit-y & perfect for accompanying a hearty bacon & eggs breakfast too. Also would be excellent on a cold winter’s night, right before bed. I had mine warm, and I definitely think they’re best eaten that way. Warm yours up if you’re eating them the next day, etc, or even toast them.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it’s almost that time! With each post, as I did for Halloween, I’m going to post a vintage or retro postcard, just because I like ‘em.

Royal wedding scones & tea.

I’m a big fan of tea, and a bigger fan of scones. If you’ve been a reader of this site for any length of time, you’ve probably read one of my many scone posts. So it’s only natural that in honor of the big wedding of Prince William of Wales & Catherine Middleton that is taking place today, I whip up some scones & have some Twinings English Afternoon Tea and go to hell with myself! Admittedly, I’m an Angliophile (and a Francophile) and at times I’ve been known to bust out in quite an excellent (if I do say so myself) “cockney” accent. I also once spoke in a brogue the entire time I was having dinner with Jay a few years ago, cracking him up and in turn probably confusing everyone in the restaurant… “Why is he laughing at that Irish girl every time she speaks!?” But that’s another story for another day…

Maybe all this is because that the day I was born, and throughout her labor with me, my mother had been watching Princess Diana‘s marriage to Prince Charles. Maybe it’s my love of all things historical. Maybe it’s because I like to bake, and will use any excuse to do so. Who knows? At any rate, I decided to make scones.

The scone is a small British quick bread of Scottish origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, but are also eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea.

The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a medium size plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in Scots), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones. In Scotland, the words are often used interchangeably.[5]

When baking powder became available to the masses, scones began to be the oven-baked, well-leavened items we know today.[6] Modern scones are widely available in British bakeries, grocery stores, and supermarkets. A 2005 market report estimated the UK scone market to be worth £64m, showing a 9% increase over the previous five years. The increase is partly due to an increasing consumer preference for impulse and convenience foods.[7]

Scones sold commercially are usually round in shape, although some brands are hexagonal as this shape may be tessellated for space-efficiency. When prepared at home, they take various shapes including triangles, rounds and squares.[8][9] The baking of scones at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. They tend to be made from family recipes rather than recipe books, since it is often a family member who holds the “best” and most-treasured recipe.[10]

So in addition to my many other scone recipes, both savory and sweet, here is one more. A recipe for simple scones by USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson that can be altered to feature whatever you like; cranberries, raisins, currants, chocolate chips, white chocolate, etc. and by adding orange or lemon zest. You could probably even just have them plain, with a little clotted cream, if you’re into that kind of kinky stuff.

I used chocolate chunks as opposed to chips. Mmm.

 

SIMPLE SCONE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • ½ cup raisins (or dried currants, cranberries, chocolate chips, etc)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about ¾-inch thick. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Notice all my books on the subject of royalty & kings? And that’s not even all of my collection. I’m a tad obsessed with historical fiction & historically accurate books. Just a tad.

These are some jolly good scones. The best I’ve made so far I think. And by the way, the Northern English way to say them is ‘skon’, the Southern English way is ‘skoan.’ So please don’t go around offending people & make sure you pronounce it the appropriate way. And on another note, perhaps one of the most interesting facts I recently discovered about William is that, according to Wikipedia;

Through his mother’s lineage, William is descended from Caterina Sforza, an Italian noblewoman who had associations with the Borgia (Pope Alexander VI‘s family).[89]

And it’s also an incredibly interesting bit of information considering the new TV show on Showtime (that I’m a big fan of), The Borgias.

Anyway, these are a delicious way to enjoy being up at 4 a.m.! Congrats to the soon-to-be newly married Prince William & Kate. And most of all- good luck.

Who needs turkey? Gimme the cakes!

Actually, I really like turkey. So give me both. Despite how I feel about Thanksgiving’s history, I do love this time of year. I don’t like winter much, and snow is my kryptonite, but I love autumn. I love fall leaves, and pumpkin picking, and fall baking. And fall clothes! They’re clearly the best. So there’s a lot to celebrate for me when it comes to October/November. Plus, I can’t deny I like to eat. And a holiday celebrated by stuffing ones face with various items of deliciousness? I’m there.

For those of you in other countries, or who really could care less about what us asshole Americans do, here’s a little bit on the holiday to get you acquainted:

Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God.[1]

It is thought that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England.[2] The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.[3] The feast consisted of fowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. William Bradford’s note that, “besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many,”[4] probably gave rise to the American tradition of eating turkey at Thanksgiving.

Of course there’s more to the story, and it ain’t pretty, but hey, whatever. I can’t lie- I like to eat. So I can’t hate on the tradition too much.

Anyway I did this for Halloween, and I thought I’d do it for Thanksgiving too since it’s convenient to have all my holiday (in this case, Thanksgiving-y) themed recipes in one spot. Here they are in no particular order; my top picks for Thanksgiving cupcakes!

These were amazing. Of course, purists may dislike it because the recipe asks that you use a box cake mix, but it’s worth it. They were dense, chocolate-y, had amazing spicyness and had a fantastic texture thanks to the addition of a can of pumpkin. They were excellent with the chocolate frosting, but would be equally excellent with a whipped cream topping, a seven-minute frosting or even a marshmallow Fluff frosting. The recipe can be found here: Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes

These cupcakes were a surprise, because I wasn’t anticipating them turning out as well as they did. The frosting was perfect too. The cinnamon in the cupcake makes it a great choice for Thanksgiving, but it’s not too heavy, so it’s a good idea for an after-dinner cupcake; after everyone has gorged on turkey & sweet potatoes. If you wanna read more about them, here they are: Snickerdoodle cupcakes with seven-minute frosting

Now these were amazing! I’m a big fan of brown butter, so I knew that these would make me really happy. Add to that cream soda and toffee? Forget it. Just fantastic. I ended up with none left after leaving Thanksgiving dinner last year- everyone insisted on taking some home with them. Take a peek at the recipe: Cream soda toffee cupcakes with brown butter frosting

Apple is a no-brainer for fall. And these just so happen to be the best apple cupcakes there ever were, EVER. Add to that the brown sugar buttercream and you have yourself a delectable treat. And I like to think it’s healthier because of all the apple. *ahem* Anyway, here’s the recipe: Apple cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream

Now you may not be looking for a cupcake recipe. Maybe you’re looking for a fall cookie, breakfast treat, muffin or a donut recipe? Well, you’ve come to the right place! The following just so happens to be Jay’s favorite cookie, and I’m sure you’ll love it too. And the rest? They ain’t bad either. You can’t go wrong with donuts, cookies, cinnamon rolls or scones in my opinion.

Delicious sugar cookies cut into leaf-shapes and topped with maple icing. How good does that sound? The recipe can be found here.

A tried and true fall favorite: apple cider donuts. And they’re really easy to make at home- trust me! A great baking project to do with kids. Go here for the full recipe.

….

The best cinnamon roll recipe, ever. Hands down. I love these on Thanksgiving morning while watching the parade. Just make the first steps the night before, allow the dough to rest overnight, then finish it and pop it in the oven that morning. Then the icing goes on while they’re warm. Seriously, they’re amazing. Get the recipe & more here.

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Ahh, Ina. You never fail me. And these scones were yet another example of that. These were a HUGE hit with my family when I made them for Thanksgiving a few years back. The texture was perfect, the flavor was awesome and everyone loved the glaze. This is another really simple yet impressive recipe. Find out how to make them here.


There are tons more fall-themed and fall-flavored ideas on this blog. You just have to search for ‘em a bit. Although, many of the cupcakes I’ve made for Halloween could work for Thanksgiving too, specifically the pumpkin, apple, cinnamon vanilla or mocha ones, and even the french toast cupcakes (which I myself are planning to recreate for Thanksgiving). Apple dumplings arealso an excellent choice, and really quick and easy. And pumpkin muffins are another great idea for breakfast, but so is pumpkin bread; a nice slice of that, all warm from the oven… Mmmm. Pumpkin muffins made with rum are a nice adult alternative. And olive oil cake? Amazing, with it’s orange-y flavor and rich texture. Although anything is really good for Thanksgiving, though, because everyone just really wants to be fat & greedy & shove food into their face. Most of the time, people don’t even notice the fancy decorations on the pies or cakes because all they want to do is stick their face in it. It’s true. Have you ever noticed how much food is put on the plates at Thanksgiving dinner? It’s ridiculous.

Which leads me to my next thought: how about, this year, for every 3 items you plan on making for your Thanksgiving spread, you donate one food item to a food bank? Whether it’s a canned vegetable or a box of au gratin potatoes or whatever. It’s time we stopped being so damn selfish in this country. And in this economy, when so many people have lost their jobs and have to rely on Food Stamps & food banks for their meals, I think all of us can afford to donate two or three cans or boxes of something to those who need it. And if you’re really feeling generous, in some supermarkets you can buy an entire meal for a family that needs it; from the soup to the turkey to the side dishes. Consider it, really. It’s the least we can do. If you’d like to contribute, there are places like Food For Others that can lead you in the right direction. Also, a quick Google search can help you find other places in your area.

Because everyone needs MORE cheese this time of year.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday. My holiday isn’t quite over yet, as I’m celebrating part two tomorrow.

And as if broccoli gratin &  lasagna (in addition to turkeys, stuffing, potatoes, etc) weren’t enough for my 2 Thanksgivings this year, I decided to make cheddar dill scones as well. I’ve been tossing the idea around for about 100 years now (real time: a year), and failed to follow through every time. Mainly because there are always a shitload of things that I end up making to eat every holiday dinner, and I know there are always so many leftovers, it seems silly to throw something else in there. But scones are an easy thing to make, take no time or effort really, they keep pretty good, and this year it was a happy surprise that while Jay was not off on Thanksgiving (stupid NYPD), he was able to get off the Saturday after for my Thanksgiving #2. And Jay loves dill. And cheddar biscuits. And these scones are kind of a combination of those. So therefore, I figured, he’s not much of a turkey guy, and he’s not much of a cupcake guy either (I know! TRAVESTY!), so I’ll make him something I know for sure he’ll love… and devour.

And who couldn’t use a little extra cheese and fat incorporated into their meals this time of year?

CHEDDAR DILL SCONES

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • ½ pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
  • 1 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° degrees F.
  2. Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.
  3. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough ¾-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

The taste of these is almost exactly like those Red Lobster biscuits with dill. They’re excellent. Score another 10 points for Ina Garten. You could easily omit the dill if you like. I’ve even seen variations with both bacon and chives replacing the dill. Do as you wish!

I used shredded Cheddar, not diced. It didn’t make much of a difference at all. None, really. It just depends on what you’ve got. Work with what you’ve got, honey *three snaps* I would, however, have used sharp or extra sharp cheddar next time. This time I used mild, and while they were amazing, I would’ve liked a punchier cheese flavor. That’s probably why the recipe calls for extra-sharp. Duh. I chose to make mine round, not in the triangles the recipe suggests, so I got a ton more. Which is good because I didn’t want anyone fighting over them. Heat them up, or eat ‘em room temperature. Spread some butter on ‘em or eat ‘em plain. They’re good no matter which way you choose to eat them.

This was my first attempt at a savory scone. I’ve made several sweet ones, and they’ve all been received well, so I’m glad I tried these. Because boy, these are some awesome scones. I could eat a lot more of these than one should.

Get sconed. Or, chocolate chip scones, part deux.

I’m a huge advocate of getting sconed.

Getting sconed basically means realizing the wondrousness of scones, and then eating said scones until your stomach pops or you want to throw up. Last year I made really good chocolate chip scones, and told all about my love for scones with chippery of chocolate. Even though that recipe was good, and I’ve made it a lot since then, I’m always on the search for a new and improved, and really perfect scone recipe. This one came close. Flaky and delicious, with a better consistency than the other recipe. What’s the difference? My other recipe calls for lemon peel, this one does not. The other recipe uses a glaze of milk/sugar, this one uses an egg/vanilla/cream wash on top. Anywho, I found this recipe at the King Arthur Flour website, so big ups to my homies over there (I really don’t have any homies over there, but they make awesome flour). I also made scones for Thanksgiving, cranberry-orange ones. I don’t like cranberry, so I didn’t eat them, but I’m told they were pretty perfect, so if you’re into that then check those out too. From what I can tell/heard they’re a lot like these in terms of flake and texture. Back to the topic at hand…

For you uninitiated out there who are asking, “What is a scone?” and didn’t read my last scone entry last year… well  here’s an explanation thanks to Joyofbaking.com:

“There are two ways to pronounce scone; “Skon” and “Skoan”.  Scones are believed to have originated in Scotland and are closely related to the griddle baked flatbread, known as bannock.   They were first made with oats, shaped into a large round, scored into four to six triangles, and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove.

The origin of the name ‘scone’ is just as unclear as where it came from.  Some say the name comes from where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, the Stone (Scone) of Destiny.  Others believe the name is derived from the Dutch word “schoonbrot” meaning fine white bread or from the German word “sconbrot” meaning ‘fine or beautiful bread’.  Still others say it comes from the Gaelic ‘sgonn’ a shapeless mass or large mouthful.

This small cake is a quick bread, similar to an American biscuit, made of wheat flour (white or wholemeal), sugar, baking powder/baking soda, butter, milk (whole, half and half, light cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, yogurt, etc.), and sometimes eggs.  This produces a soft and sticky dough that has the ratio one part liquid to three parts wheat flour.   It needs to be baked in a moderate to hot oven so the dough sets quickly thereby producing a light scone with a light to golden brown floury top and bottom with white sides.  The texture of the interior of the scone should be light and soft, and white in color.”

There are raisin scones, blueberry scones, regular scones… I could go on forever. They’re like muffins in that you could really make any kind of scone and they’d be delicious. Traditionally scones are eaten with tea. And according to a website I found, there is indeed a proper way to eat a scone:

The correct manner in which one eats a scone is the same manner in which one eats a dinner roll. Simply break off a bite size only piece, place it on your plate and then apply, with your bread and butter knife, the jam and cream. A fork is not used to eat a scone.

But I say, eat ‘em while you’re sitting at home watching the latest ‘Nurse Jackie’ episode, I don’t care! Scones are delicious and from here on out, I am going to try and stop the stereotyping of them. SCONES ARE NOT JUST FOR TEA. So here we go… sconery abounds!

CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

Ingredients & materials to get you sconed:

  • 2 ½ cups (9 ounces) flour (the website obviously recommends King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour or Mellow Pastry Blend (9 3/8 ounces), but I used regular all-purpose)
  • heaping ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) cream–half and half, light, heavy, or whipping (you can also use regular milk with good results)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups to 2 cups (9 to 12 ounces) chocolate chips
  • coarse white sparkling sugar or demerara sugar, for topping

Directions down the path of sconery:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder till thoroughly combined. Add the butter, working it in until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
  3. Whisk together the cream , eggs, and vanilla. Set aside 2 tablespoons, and add the rest to the dry ingredients, along with the chocolate chips. Mix to form a moist dough.
  4. Transfer the sticky dough to a heavily floured rolling mat or other work surface. Gently pat and round it into an 8″ circle. Brush the dough with the reserved egg/cream mixture, and sprinkle heavily with coarse sugar.
  5. Dip a 2″ round cutter in flour, and use it to cut out a total of 16 scones; you’ll have to gather the scraps and reshape the dough once. Space the scones evenly on the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the scones for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm. If not serving immediately or within a couple of hours, store in an airtight container. To reheat, wrap loosely in aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Yield: 16 to 18 3″ scones (depending on the amount of chips you use).
  7. Variation: Make cute little bite-sized (1 ¾”) scones by using a 1 ½” cutter. Reduce the oven time to about 13 minutes, baking until scones are a light golden brown. Yield: about 40 to 45 scones, depending on the amount of chips you use.

‘K, so I used mini chocolate chips, about a cup and a half, maybe a cup and ¾. I like my scones room temperature, so I don’t like to heat them up to eat them. But do as you wish in that department, chickadees.

*Note: this entire entry was written with an English accent, FYI.

Cranberry-Orange scones.

I really couldn’t think of a clever title for this, so I figured I’d just be straight about it. I am not a cranberry fan, but I had a million beautiful oranges sitting in a bowl looking bored, and I’m celebrating two Thanksgivings this year.. meaning I was in need of many baked goods. So what else was I supposed to do!? I’ve been promising this recipe since I saw Ina Garten make it ages ago and its finally the season for this sort of thing so of course I made it.

Where does one get dried cranberries? In the fresh (or organic) fruit/nut section of the supermarket, in a little plastic container. Right near the dried figs and trail mixes and that kinda stuff. Easy peasy. If you really can’t find them, you can cheat and “dry” your own, using fresh or frozen by using the following method: First wash and then plunge them into boiling water for 15-30 seconds, just until the skin ‘pops.’ Stop the cooking action by placing berries in ice water. Drain on paper towels. Turn on the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F. Then place the cranberries on a cookie sheet in the oven, turn off the oven, and let them sit overnight or until sticky and no longer wet. Once dry, they can be kept at refrigerator temperatures for 18 to 24 months or in a freezer for 5 to 8 years. However I’d recommend sprinkling them with a bit of sugar before putting them in the oven. Most dried cranberries have a bit of sugar in them because of the natural tartness of the berry. That said- I will say that you’ll probably be happier with the flavor and texture buying dried and using those.

I will tell you this: since I do not like cranberries, I have not eaten any.  They smell fantastic, and I am assured they are wonderful by very picky and spoiled people who only like the best baked goods and are highly opinionated. I prefer chocolate chip scones myself.

CRANBERRY-ORANGE SCONES

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • ¾ pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, ¼ cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and ¼cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.
  3. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough ¾-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.
  4. Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Yeah, I know, the ¾ pound of butter kills me. Ina Garten loves her butter. But then again, thats what makes scones scones! You could easily cut this recipe in half as well, depending on how many people you’re making it for. As far as the fresh squeezed juice, just use the orange that you got the zest from. Don’t use OJ from a carton, please. I mean, you could do that in theory -but why!?!

And I abso-friggin’-lutely promise that soon there will be a cupcake recipe. Or at least some cupcake porn ;)

Chocolate chip scones.

When I went to F.I.T. the D Building lobby had a little coffee bar/snack booth type deal that sold coffee (obviously), bagels, rolls, juice, etc. Sometimes cookies and brownies as well. They also, if you were lucky, had scones. I loved the chocolate chip scones. I don’t like cranberry scones or plain scones. But the chocolate chip ones were awesome. People used to laugh at me because I’d get a scone and a Snapple between classes (or during class). They’d say “Who just eats a scone as a snack?” Well English people do, I’m sure. I’m not English, so I really don’t know that for certain. But anyway… yeah I’d say since scones are a decidedly ‘British’ baked good, that English people eat scones as snacks. Unless scones are just for tea? In which case I was still perfectly within the realm of proper scone eating because I always ate them with a Snapple Peach Iced Tea (yeah, I know, its no Earl Grey with lemon…). But getting a scone that was guaranteed deliciousness was also better and easier than arguing with the lady serving me that the substance on my bagel was cream cheese, not butter like I’d asked for, which happened to me more than a few times.

I omitted the lemon peel and nothing bad happened. No lightning crashed down on me and the god of sconery didn’t curse me. As a matter of fact, they tasted wonderful. I’m not a scone expert- but I thought they were pretty boss.

Pre-baked scone-y goodness.


What is a scone, you ask? Well thanks to Joyofbaking.com:

“There are two ways to pronounce scone; “Skon” and “Skoan”.  Scones are believed to have originated in Scotland and are closely related to the griddle baked flatbread, known as bannock.   They were first made with oats, shaped into a large round, scored into four to six triangles, and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove.

The origin of the name ‘scone’ is just as unclear as where it came from.  Some say the name comes from where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, the Stone (Scone) of Destiny.  Others believe the name is derived from the Dutch word “schoonbrot” meaning fine white bread or from the German word “sconbrot” meaning ‘fine or beautiful bread’.  Still others say it comes from the Gaelic ‘sgonn’ a shapeless mass or large mouthful.

This small cake is a quick bread, similar to an American biscuit, made of wheat flour (white or wholemeal), sugar, baking powder/baking soda, butter, milk (whole, half and half, light cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, yogurt, etc.), and sometimes eggs.  This produces a soft and sticky dough that has the ratio one part liquid to three parts wheat flour.   It needs to be baked in a moderate to hot oven so the dough sets quickly thereby producing a light scone with a light to golden brown floury top and bottom with white sides.  The texture of the interior of the scone should be light and soft, and white in color.”

Well, there ya go!

CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

Get the following ingredients:
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Milk (for glaze)
Preparation:
  1. Butter and flour baking sheet. Sift 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into large bowl. Add butter and lemon peel; rub in with fingertips until butter is reduced to size of rice grains. Mix in chocolate chips.
  2. Whisk buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; mix until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Press dough out on lightly floured surface to 8-inch round; cut round into 6 wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush scones lightly with milk; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
  4. Bake until scones are crusty on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Cheerio!