Saturday, April 30, 2011

Experimental baking

For someone who just started baking a year ago, I don't have a lot of respect.

Not following recipes is the reason I never baked much in the first place. I'm one of those cooks who puts in "about this much" of any given ingredient, and knows that it's ready when it for heaven's sake looks ready.

Pulled out my favorite 1943 Woman's Home Companion Cook Book, and didn't really think the muffins looked that interesting, plus I had some cream cheese, orange zest and maple syrup, so what the hell. Call them

Stone soup muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
2 T dried orange zest

3 T cream cheese
2 T butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg
±1/2 cup milk (enough to bring liquid ingredients up to 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins, plumped

Heat oven to 400F/200C

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate container (I use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup), melt the butter and cream cheese (less than 1 minute in the microwave on default setting). Add the maple syrup and whisk smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg. Add enough milk to increase liquid to 1 1/2 cups total. Mix into the dry ingredients. Do no beat. Plump the raisins by heating them in enough water to just cover, again, a minute or two in the microwave. Drain and mix into the batter.

Fill greased muffin pan 2/3 full and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Made 11 muffins.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Scone

It's a semi-traditional holiday, so I made semi-traditional scones

Semi-traditional scones
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup milk or half-and-half
1/3 cup honey

Optional: fresh or dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Sift the dry ingredients, then cut the butter into it until it resembles a coarse corn meal. If you are adding dried fruit or nuts, mix them into the flour mixture now. Whisk the liquid ingredients together, than add them to the flour mixture. Dough should be malleable and slightly wet. Knead the dough on a floured board. Shape it into a disk or a rectangle about 3/4" thick and cut into desired shape (wedges, squares or rounds).

If you are adding a soft fruit like berries or diced peaches, roll it out slightly thinner, place the fruit on half of it; fold it over then reshape it before cutting it into the final shape. Soft fruits are easier to handle if they are frozen. They'll defrost just fine during the baking process.

Place the scones onto the cookie sheet and bake them for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Yields 12. When cooled, store in an airtight container.

This is not a sweet scone, especially if you haven't added fruit, so serve hot with butter and honey!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Apricot carrot scones

The uncle from Hungary was back, this time with apricot compote. My husband says they are so flavorless that sometimes you have to eat 3 or 4 of them to get the full impact.

Apricot-carrot scones
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large carrot, grated

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh orange juice, with zest
1/4 cup apricot compote
2T honey
1/4 cup sour cream, or plain or vanilla yogurt

Heat oven to 425F/218C

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or by rubbing between your fingers until it has the consistency of corn meal. Mix in the grated carrot. Whisk together honey, juice, and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop batter by generous spoonfuls. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown, not deep brown.