Cherry Scones

Cherry Scones.

Cherry Scones.

When you want a baked treat for brunch or afternoon tea, this scone recipe will fit the bill.  I made these for the first time recently, and we couldn’t wait for them to cool before having one.  They were so flaky and tender, they just fell apart in our hands.  The dried cherries lend just the right amount of sweetness.  These are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, for breakfast, brunch, snack, afternoon break;  anytime at all is the best time to enjoy one.

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If you want a good basic scone recipe to rely on, this one is it.  You could replace the dried cherries with so many other dried fruits like cranberries (change lemon zest to orange zest),  apricots, golden raisins, snipped dates, etc.

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CHERRY SCONES

Yield:  Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2  1/2 Tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 Tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing scones  (You may substitute buttermilk or light cream, but heavy cream will give you a richer scone)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat;  set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and pulse 3 to 6 times until mixture resembles a course meal.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in cherries and lemon zest.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

3.  In a small bowl, beat together egg and cream.  Add to flour mixture; stir gently with a fork until mixture just comes together.  If dough seems too dry, add a splash of cream;  mixture should not be too sticky.

A very "shaggy" dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

A very “shaggy” dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

4.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Shape dough into a 6-inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal wedges.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet; lightly brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

5.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  These scones are best eaten the day they are made.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

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SOURCE:  MARTHA STEWART.COM

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

In just one week’s time I came across three references to a new cookbook called Whole Grain Morning, by Megan Gordon.  So I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I went to my local big box bookstore and there it was!.  Thumbing through it, I found so many interesting recipes for breakfast dishes, all including a variety of grains, that I had to make it mine. It is a well-known fact that your morning meal is the opportune time to load in most of your whole grain needs for the day. Gordon gives many delicious ideas in her book for doing just that.  This recipe for pear and hazelnut muffins is only the first of what will most likely be many recipes that I make from this book.

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Muffins can be a fusion of many flavors and ingredients, some you wouldn’t think to put together, but somehow they work.  And sometimes a muffin will  be sweet and cake like resembling dessert.   I keep some funny little rules in my head to make the distinction whether a muffin should be breakfast food  or eaten at another time, like afternoon tea.  The rules that run through my head go something like this:

Whole grains and oats = breakfast

White flour = cake

An egg or two = breakfast

Lots of eggs = cake

Natural sweeteners = breakfast

White sugar = cake

Unsaturated fats = breakfast

Butter = cake

After running through the ingredient list I tally the marks and make a determination as to whether I can pull this off as breakfast.  When in doubt or the marks are equal, throw in some bacon, and that definitely swings it over to the side of breakfast.  😀

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The Pear and Hazelnut Muffins from Megan Gordon’s beautiful book came out strongly in the breakfast category with oats, whole wheat flour, fruit and nuts.  It might have remained there, except for the fact that I  added some chocolate.  It seemed to me that when you say the words, “pear and hazelnut”, together, something seems to be missing–add the words, “chocolate chunks”  and now it becomes a complete sentence.  Oh, oh, I guess I need to add chocolate to my list of ingredients acceptable for breakfast.  Try as I might, I can’t help tinkering with a recipe.  If you’re happy with the recipe sans the chocolate, go for it!!!

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Whether you have these for breakfast or dessert, you won’t have any regrets.  The combination of ingredients produces a complex flavor that’s far beyond what you would expect to be having for breakfast — grated pear, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter, oats and, yes, chocolate chunks all tangled together in a crunchy muffin that tastes amazing even a day or two after it is baked.

PEAR AND HAZELNUT MUFFINS

Yield:  Theoretically, 12 muffins, but I got 18.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small-medium pears
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cooled slightlyIMG_6218
  • 2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, or light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (can replace this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (optional)

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 425*F.  Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.**  Have a second tin ready in case you need it,

2.  Peel, (if you desire, or can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them.  Grate pears on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl.  You should have about a cup, grated. Note:  I got this much with just one medium pear.  Stir in the melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup nuts, and chocolate chunks, if using.  Gently fold this dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.

4.  Fill muffin cups almost full and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup nuts. ( I overlooked this step, and added all the nuts to the batter, so my pics do not show any nuts on top of the muffins,)

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Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375*F.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out batter-free.

5.  Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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**Point of information:  I just bought these parchment paper muffin liners for the first time, and they were wonderful at keeping the muffins from sticking to the paper. The liner removed cleanly with no torn muffins or crumbs clinging to the paper.  P.S. I get no compensation for this unsolicited plug.

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

SOURCE:  Whole Grain Mornings,  Megan Gordon

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Mufins

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

The cold fall and winter months are not my favorite. But cold weather weekends…..I don’t mind them too much, because I spend a lot of time in my kitchen.  There’s something to be said about cooking and baking at this time of year, filling the house with incredible smells and warmth.IMG_5730

This recipe,  oh, dear readers, this recipe!   Apples, pumpkin, spices, cream cheese filling, streusel topping AND a drizzle of frosting—what more do you need to know?   Though I love every recipe I share with you, I don’t usually gush except for the very best.  I’m definitely gushing over these muffins.  Every bite elicits an “mmmmm…”,  ‘Wow…”,  “So good….”, etc.  Mr. D. on tasting them said…”I would walk over hot coals for these”, to which I replied,  “Oh My Goodness, that good?”

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Here’s the deal with these muffins….they should really be named Pumpkin Apple Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins, which is a mouthful, so I just shortened it.  What you need to know about these muffins is –if you don’t like them with, say cream cheese , no problem, skip that part.  If you don’t like streusel, no worries, omit it, and move on!  Don’t have any apple?,  Ok, leave it out.  Streusel, yes; cream cheese, no?  Totally do-able.  Like your muffins naked?  Knock yourself out.

Do you get the picture here?  This is basically a “choose your own muffin adventure”.  So let’s get on with it…..

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PUMPKIN APPLE MUFFINS

Yield:   Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients:

Muffins:

  • 2  1/2 cups flourIMG_5681
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped apples, peeled

Cream Cheese layer:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milkIMG_5689
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • Glaze (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Line muffin pans with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray.

2.  Prepare dry ingredients by whisking together flour, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

3.  In another bowl mix together the eggs, pumpkin and oil.

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Mix these wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients until incorporated.

4.  Stir in chopped apples.

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5.  Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.

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6.  Make the cream cheese mixture–  In a mixing bowl of your electric beater, beat cream cheese, sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth.  Place a heaping teaspoon on top of muffin batter in cups.

7.  Make streusel–Combine all the dry ingredients, then using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over all the muffins.

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8.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a cooling rack.

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9.  Mix up glaze, if using, and drizzle over tops of muffins.

Note:   When I made this recipe, I cut all quantities in half, and I still got 11 muffins.  My muffin cups were filled to the tops.  The only part I omitted was the glaze.  These are quite sweet,  you could have one as dessert.  Awesome!

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SOURCE:   Cookies and Cups

Strawberry and Cream Scones

Strawberry and Cream Scones.

Strawberry and Cream Scones.

After I finished making my Very Berry Strawberry Cookies, I had a partial package of freeze dried strawberries left, with no plan for how to use them up.  Then I noticed a packaged mix for strawberries and cream scones in a baking catalog.  That gave me the idea I needed for how to use the strawberries.

Warm, tender, and flaky.

Warm, tender, and flaky.

Since fresh strawberries can be difficult to incorporate into baked goods, adding too much moisture to the finished product, I reasoned that the freeze dried berries would provide the color and intense flavor of strawberries without the excess liquid.  I rehydrated the strawberries, squeezed out the extra liquid, chopped them up a little and proceeded with my standard recipe for cream scones.  The bright little bursts of flavor turn these into very delightful scones, especially served warm with some strawberry jam.   It was mid-day when I baked these, so when they came out of the oven I had one with a cup of tea, but they are also great for breakfast, too.

STRAWBERRY AND CREAM SCONES

Yield:   Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

The essentials for strawberry cream scones.

The essentials for strawberry cream scones.

  • a generous 1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour ( I use half whole wheat flour)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

1.  Place freeze-dried strawberries in a small bowl and cover them with warm water.  Leave to soften for about 5 minutes.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels.  Chop coarsely and set aside.

2.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease lightly.

3.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Cutting in the butter.

Cutting in the butter.

4.  In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and cream.  Add the cream mixture and chopped strawberries to the dry mixture.

Adding in the egg, cream and strawberries.

Adding in the egg, cream and strawberries.

Stir together lightly to make a sticky dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently about 6 times, just until it holds together.  Add a little flour if necessary.  Pat the dough into a 6 to 7-inch round, about 3/4-inch thick.  Cut with a sharp knife into 8 wedges.  Transfer to the baking sheet and brush the tops of them with a little cream.

Brush tops with a little cream before baking.

Brush tops with a little cream before baking.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until set and golden brown.  (Mine were perfect at 15 minutes).

Serve warm with butter and strawberry jam.  Delicious!!!

Asking for some strawberry jam!

Asking for some strawberry jam!

Heaven in the shape of a scone!

Heaven in the shape of a scone!

SOURCE:  adapted from a recipe for cream scones by Rennie Darling:  Muffins, Scones, and Quick Breads