Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's a First Time for Everything...

When I started this blog, I thought the baking part of it would be balanced with other fun things. Sorry about that, folks. Life has been really busy! I promise, I will try harder to sprinkle in a bit more fun between the baking (especially because the baking stints are fewer and further between now).

I also planned that I would stick close to baking things that I could easily take to others so they wouldn't be in the house. For that reason, I was drawn to a recipe for Cinnamon Chip Scones on one of my favorite baking blogs, My Baking Addiction. If you haven't already checked it out by clicking through the link on the right of my blog, you should definitely click soon. The author, an Ohio gal like myself (except she still lives there), makes all kinds of delicious-sounding things and takes great photos of them. Anyhoo, the scones sounded AMAZING, and I knew they'd be easy to pass around. Too bad that, as you might have guessed, Jay and I have not been so good about sharing the goodies I'm making here. (Too many baked goods = new gym memberships!)

I had never made a scone before in my life. Actually, I'm not sure I'd ever even eaten a homemade scone. I think my previous scone experience has been limited to professional bakeries (and in particular, my love of a white chocolate raspberry scone Cup O'Joe used to have in Columbus.... mmmm). So, this was yet another adventure for the benefit of my faithful readers.

I started off pretty excited to try something new, and quite honestly, to finally use those cinnamon chips I'd bought in anticipation of the project a week earlier (sidenote: Cinnamon chips are addictive. Consider yourself warned!) Instead of my trusty stand mixer, the recipe called for the use of a food processor. Another good sign, as the poor thing hadn't been used in months. And so I dove in.

I should have suspected that something was amiss when cutting the cold butter into the flour mixture didn't result in pea-sized clumps. But, unfazed, I marched forward, dumping the rest of the wet ingredients into the less-than-perfect pastry mix.

That, my friends, is when the trouble began. Being the avid cookie-maker that I am, I know a sticky cookie dough when I see one. And folks, that is exactly what I saw staring back at me from the processor's bowl. Though I was a scone virgin, I had seen enough Food Network shows to know what a kneaded dough looks like, and I knew full well there would be kneading ahead. Sticky was not where it was at. A tad bit fazed, I went ahead and turned the dough out.

This is what happened:

I like getting my hands dirty as much as the next guy, but this was ridiculous.

Thankfully, my trusty sous chef was not far from the disaster zone and stepped in to help.

Jay and I worked as a team to add quite a bit more flour (above and beyond what the recipe had told me to add at the pea-sized crumb-making stage). Honestly, I can't even tell you how much we added, only that it was a lot. But it worked. Eventually, the sticky was tamed and I finally had what looked like the dough I had expected.

That's not to say that the final product looked anything like any scone I'd ever seen. But, hey, you gotta start somewhere. Oh, and they were huge. Clearly spacial relations is not my gig.

And, after such trials, I didn't even bother with the cream cheese glaze until the next morning. I needed to recuperate first before baking again.

And yes, I know what you're wondering -- despite my creative way of getting there, these scones tasted pretty darn good. They may have been a little more dense than they were supposed to be (thank you excessive amounts of extra flour), but the cinnamon yummy-ness, only heightened by that addictive glaze, totally made up for it.

If any of you out there feel brave enough to try these, or actually have scone experience and therefore are more qualified than I, please let me know how it goes. I'm determined to have another go at these... but maybe not for awhile. :)

Cinnamon Chip Scones

1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter; very cold cut into pieces
2 eggs
1 cup *mini cinnamon chips (mine didn't say mini, but they were pretty small, so I just left them as is)
optional egg wash (I didn't bother, clearly)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream, vanilla and baking soda, and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchments paper.
3. In the bowl of your food processor, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cream of tartar, and salt. Pulse a few times to incorporate. Add in the butter and pulse until butter is in pea-sized pieces. 4. Add in the sour cream mixture and eggs into the flour mixture and pulse until just moistened.
5. Remove scone dough from the food processor and into a bowl, fold in cinnamon chips.
6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. You can easily shape these any size you want.
7. Optional: Brush the tops lightly with egg wash.
8. Bake 13-16 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.
*If you cannot find mini cinnamon chips, simply chop the standard cinnamon chips to make smaller pieces.
* No food processor? Simply cut the butter into the flour mixtures using a pastry blender.
You can also freeze your butter in whole sticks and grate it using the large holes of a box grater; this will allow you to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture without too much effort.
Cream Cheese Glaze
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract extract
2 tablespoons milk
Mix the cream cheese with the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl. Drizzle over cooled scones in any fashion you choose (I chose the dump with a spoon method).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pancakes make me happy

One of Jay's and my favorite traditions is weekend pancakes. And not just any pancakes. Banana chocolate chip pancakes. The tradition dates back to our earliest dating days, and still reminds me of falling in love with my husband every time we make them together.

Finally feeling settled into the house, we knew this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to break out some yummy Stonewall Kitchen pancake mix we've been meaning to break into for over a year (thank you, Julie!). And, our patience (or busy-ness) was rewarded in spades. Here is evidence of one of our most perfect pancake batches yet:

Possibly the world's most perfect pancake, courtesy of the master -- my husband.

Oh, and I did a bit of baking too.... more to come soon on that!