Scone Trial

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My previous post touched on my breakfast ritual with my daughters.  Luckily, one of the coffee shops in town brings a taste of the city to its patrons, having pastries from Balthazar’s delivered to their shop on a daily basis.  A particular favorite of mine is the cranberry scone.  These are the perfect combination of buttery, slightly sweet from the cranberry and sprinkle of sugar crystals on top, and surprisingly, there is no orange zest as you typically find with any baked good containing cranberries.

Well, I wasn’t lucky enough to find the recipe for these online, so I turned to the Ina Garten as a base recipe to start from.  One good thing about making these, I finally used my stand mixer, that has been sitting on my counter accumulating dust for years.  This wonderful piece of machinery made everything incredibly easy.  My daughters were fascinated with seeing the stand mixer work as well as how easy it was to operate.

While this recipe was good, it wasn’t of the same quality of Balthazar’s.  I think that in order to get there, it needs more butter, just a small twist of sugar, and I did omit the orange zest as well.  I did love that the egg wash with the sugar crystals really made these scones look amazingly delicious.  My youngest daughter ate a whole scone for herself once these came out of the oven.  It was quite amazing because they were each almost the size of her face!  While not what I was aiming for, they were still quite delicious!

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Bakery Blues

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One of my main sorrows in leaving the city is the lack of a good sit-down bakery to enjoy delicious baked goods for breakfast (I’m not talking about cupcakes).  Ever since our first daughter was born, we made a ritual of going out to breakfast on the week-ends.  I would bring my daughter to one of the various coffee/ bakery shops around us and we would enjoy some quality mommy-daughter time.  It was always such a pleasant way to begin the week-end.  In moving to the suburbs, I had a hard time finding the perfect breakfast spot that had the ambiance and the the quality of baked goods.  One of our favorite places to frequent in Brooklyn was a wonderful little bakery called Blue Sky Bakery.  They make the most delicious muffins.  All of them are fresh-made daily and incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin or apple in the fall, peaches in the summer, and so on.  On any given day, they have at least 10 varieties to choose from.  My daughter loved to eat all of the fruit out of my muffins and we thoroughly enjoyed the varieties offered each day.

I wondered if I could find the recipe for these muffins, as the shop only had two base recipes, one bran and one non-bran, with different fruit mixtures for variety.  I was in luck and thank you Google for helping me find it!  These are seriously the best bran muffins I have had and I was so excited to find the recipe out there.  I found out that it was published in a cookbook “Table of Contents“.  You can use any combination of fruit in these muffins and they are always amazing.  I made these as my two year old sat on the kitchen counter watching me create these wonders and when they were done, she dug in, eating all the fruit out of the center, just like her sister used to do.  It’s like they’re related!  You should try these muffins out.  Not too sweet, very easy and fast, extremely delicious!

Blue Sky Bakery Bran Muffin (makes 2 dozen)

  • 2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cup fruit (I used raspberries and peaches)

Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.

In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.

Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.

Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup).  Place a generous layer of fruit  (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup.  Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.  Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!

Bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do NOT overbake.

Cook on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin.

 

A Cry for Spring

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The weather report going this week-end was not good. There was a prediction for more snow and cold weather. Now, normally, I don’t mind snow. But pushing a stroller in snow while pregnant is not an easy task. I was both excited and apprehensive for the snow, which put me into a strange kind of nesting mood.

My kitchen on Sunday was a hub of activity. I must be getting my energy back because I ended up making a bowl of guacamole, two dinners (one for Sunday and one for Monday) with plenty to spare, and then I decided to make a breakfast bread. I haven’t been baking in quite a while, just simple things here and there. I did make a pound cake two weeks ago and it was so nice to have a staple breakfast food again that I thought I should make another today.

The mix today was a strawberry lemon poundcake Generally, I like to use lemon when I feel spring coming on. A bit of lemon zest just adds a nice, fresh zing to anything, and to me, it is so reminiscent of spring. As for the strawberries, I happened to have a handful leftover from what my daughter didn’t eat. I was a little skeptical about using strawberries because I just find that their flavor is so subtle in baking that you sometimes don’t notice it. Oh well, waste not, want not. I ended up using my staple pound cake recipe.  I made this a double recipe so that it would fill a large bundt pan.  When I got to the pouring of the batter, instead of mixing the strawberries into the batter (I was afraid the weight of the berries would cause them all to fall down to the bottom during baking) I poured in half the batter, then I sliced the berries and lay them in into the batter, nuzzling some a little deeper in, then pouring the rest of the batter on top.  It’s kind of like how you make a coffee cake with the cinnamon filling in the center.

Well, the moment this came out of the oven, my daughter wanted some.  The smell of the lemon with the strawberries was subtle yet intoxicating and when I cut it open to get a better look, I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out better than expected.  I cut a piece for my daughter, sampling a little myself and she devoured it.  My husband noted that the strawberries added just a hint of sweetness that complemented the lemon quite nicely.  I think this one’s a winner!

Berry Berry Bread

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Happy Memorial Day to all!  I hope that you all had a restful and long week-end!  This week-end we decided to sequester ourselves in the apartment and try to potty-train my daughter.  It was a particularly blustery and overcast day on Saturday.  Perfect weather for hiding out in the apartment.  Since we were confined to the indoors, I decided to take the opportunity to make breakfast.  We happened to have strawberries and blackberries in our refrigerator, which I thought would make a delicious breakfast bread.  I used the recipe found in my previous post here  except I substituted strawberries and blackberries for the fruit/ nuts addition.

My daughter who just turned two, is growing by leaps and bounds every day now.  Her affinity for helping in the kitchen has not declined in the least so she was excited to help me make the bread.  Needless to say, everything she was doing came to a dead halt when she saw I was beginning to make something.  She stopped eating what she was eating, got off her chair, and pulled up her stool up to the island where I was working so she could see what I was doing.  So of course I let her help me mix the ingredients and add the berries, and together we watched the bread rise in the oven.  She even insisted on bringing my cookbook to the bathroom when she sat on the potty so she could “read” it!  She is a constant source of entertainment!

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This bread is a wonderful spring bread.  I loved the flavor of the berries mixed together.  I think I took it out of the bread pan too soon (out of eagerness) as gravity quickly began to pull it down and it ended up in quite a squat form.  Despite it being one of the uglier breads I made, it was still delicious.  The berries were piping hot and very fresh, so the bread had a wonderfully bright sweetness to them.  My daughter and husband quite liked it and I have to admit that these impromptu breakfast breads are quite tasty and fun!

Apparently, Pancakes are a Baby Girl’s Best Friend….

My daughter just turned one not too long ago and has now graduated to eating all the foods that my husband and I eat.  She seems to have a very discerning palate, veering away from blander foods and opting for whatever happens to be on our plate.  Well, it’s always a challenge to figure out what to feed her, especially since she doesn’t seem to like eating the same thing over and over again.

One week-end, I was lying in bed before going to sleep, and thought that it had been a really long time since I had made pancakes!  Suddenly, I had a craving for pancakes and resolved to make them the next day.  I know that my daughter’s daycare gives them pancakes sometimes for breakfast so I figured I’d give it a try.  I made a really simple pancake recipe from scratch, smothered some good organic maple syrup on top,  and took her organic apple sauce and spread it onto the pancake.  I cut it up into pieces and put it on a plate in front of her.  I am not kidding you, these pancakes disappeared so quickly I didn’t even know what happened.  I didn’t expect her to finish a whole pancake so I actually ended up giving her half of one of my pancakes since she kept pointing insistently at my plate!

I have since made this recipe a number of times, but sprinkle in chocolate chips for the “adult” version.  It’s a very fast recipe and very easy to make with ingredients that are usually laying around in the pantry.

Pancakes – makes (5) 5″ round pancakes

1 C all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 C whole milk
2 T cooking oil

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and form a well in the center.

2. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and whisk everything together until just combined and the large lumps have been incorporated.

3. Turn heat on low and ladle batter into a small frying pan until the batter just covers the bottom completely.  Let the pancake bubble and pop and wait for the edges to look dry.  Using a spatula, run it around the edges to loosen it from the pan and check to see if it is lightly golden.  Flip pancake and cook a 2-3 minutes on the other side or until golden.  Place on plate.  Smother with maple syrup and organic applesauce and serve.  Yum!

A Pound of Goodness

Baking time!  This week I made a lemon pound cake for our weekly breakfast venture!  The weather had been getting really beautiful and I just feel like lemons and spring are in the air!

This next bread is a twist on a classic that I grew up on.  Ever since I was little my mom has been making pound cake.  This recipe is really easy and can be adapted in many ways.  I remember my first time taking a bite of this cake and thinking “oh my god, this is so fluffy and the crust is so crunchy!”  It was such an amazing blend of flavors and textures that I asked my mom to teach me how to make it.  I think I then proceeded to make an entire bundt pan of it each week for the next couple weeks and finally my dad asked me to stop because of how many eggs were in it!

Anyways, I love this cake and I’ve put my own twist by adding the lemon juice and zest.  For the plain pound cake, just don’t add these items.  I hope you enjoy it!

Lemon Pound Cake (makes 1 5×9 loaf pan or if you double it, 1 bundt pan)

1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
3 eggs (imagine a double recipe…. 6 eggs!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C whipping cream
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon

1. Grease loaf pan and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

2. Add vanilla.  Using a hand mixer, beat eggs in one at a time until well incorporated.

3. Add flour 1/2 a cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Pour in whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for 5 minutes until the batter is smooth and fluffy looking.  Pour in the lemon juice and the zest and mix well.

4. Pour into the greased loaf pan.  Put pan into a cold oven and turn temperature on to 375°.  Cook for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.