For the Love of Scones

Scones with butter and jam

Scones

What’s not to like about a scone? They are delicious and tender, plain with butter or dressed up any way you like. Their creation requires a little bit of technique, but it is quickly mastered and so very worth it. Try these plain ones, and  once you are comfortable with making them, the sky is the limit as far as modifying their flavour goes. Another benefit:  you can make your dough, cut your scones, place on a tray and freeze, then put them in a freezer bag once they are frozen.  Pull them out and cook anytime — fresh scones!  So. Follow along, and be gentle. The more gentle you are with your dough, the more tender your scones will be.

*for frozen scones, do not defrost, but increase cooking time as needed.

Plain Scones

adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea by Rose Bakery

makes 12-16 large scones or 24-32 mini scones

Ingredients

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup wheatgerm, whole wheat flour, cornmeal or oat bran  (optional) (I used cornmeal)

3 tbsp baking powder

2 (heaping) tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/4 cups milk (lactose free if necessary, soy milk, or regular

1 egg, beaten (to glaze the tops)

butter and jam, to serve

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.

In a large bowl, combine flour, wheatgerm (if using), baking powder, sugar and salt.

Toss in the butter pieces, toss in the flour, and then begin combining it with your fingers. Squeeze the butter, then drop it back in the flour, find another piece, squeeze it, and continue in this fashion until your butter/flour mixture looks like big breadcrumbs (see picture).

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in exactly 1 1/4 cups of milk (300 ml).  Use a fork to mix it into the dry ingredients. Finish pulling your dough together using your hands, without overworking it, just until it comes together.  If by chance it is too dry, add a little more milk, or if too sticky add more flour. It should not be sticky at all.

On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a circular shape, about 3 cms thick, then cut crosswise like a pie into triangles.  Either make 2 large discs, or 4 smaller discs,  depending on whether you want big scones or small scones. (I made small ones here).

Glaze the tops with beaten egg if desired (I didn’t), and bake 12-20 minutes until golden and risen. (these small ones took 14 minutes).  Cool a little, then slice and slather with butter and jam. Enjoy with a coffee or tea and a good friend.

Toss butter pieces into to flour mixture

Squeeze butter into flour mixture, drop, and squeeze again

When mixture resembles large breadcrumbs it is ready for next step

Make a 'well' and pour in milk.

Use a fork to mix the flour and milk together. Don't overwork.

Use your hands to put dough together, form into discs and cut into triangles.

Place on baking tray with a little bit of room in between

Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on size, until golden and risen

Spread with butter and jam. 🙂 Wasn't that easy?

Old Fashioned Carrot Bread (with Gluten-Free option)

Old Fashioned Carrot Bread

When I saw this recipe in an older cookbook that was discussing the history of Nova Scotia and it’s settlers, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’ve never heard of carrot bread before but since we all love carrot cake, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. The result is a deliciously dense, moist loaf with tons of fall flavour — perfect for breakfast on the run, afternoon tea or bedtime snack. Oatmeal, raisins, carrots, nuts… it’s much healthier than any purchased breakfast cereal or snack bar.  The method of preparation is slightly different than most loaves (see instructions), but it is still a very easy recipe and I know it’ll be a favourite once you try it. Enjoy!

Carrot Bread

makes one 9 x 5 loaf

adapted from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup water

1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts or nut of your choice) chopped

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup large flake oats

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Directions:

Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place pan on a baking sheet. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F.

In medium saucepan, combine carrots, raisins, sugar, spices, butter and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. In separate bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, nuts and salt.  Pour carrot mixture into flour mixture. Stir until well combined. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 30 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs stuck to it. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan, slice and enjoy.

*For Gluten-Free option – replace flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour and add 1/2 tsp xantham gum.

mix carrots, sugar, butter, spices, water and vanilla in pot. Cook for 5 minutes.

mix flour, oats, nuts, baking powder and soda and salt in bowl.

mix carrot mixture into flour mixture, until well combined.

bake loaf for 30-45 mins, until tester comes out clean

Cool and slice.

Gluten free (with raisins) on right, regular flour (with craisins) on left. Both delicious.

Glazed Mini Pumpkin Scones

pumpkin mini scones

see how hard I work for you guys?

Oh, ma gah. I had some leftover canned pumpkin and wanted to make some pumpkin pie flavoured scones.  I was thinking about the pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks.  I also made them ‘mini’ instead of huge.  They turned out tender and delicious and actually too good– I’ll be giving them away to avoid eating any more. (although I’ve eaten another one while writing this post – awesome with a cup of tea).

If you’ve never made biscuits or scones, you will quickly realize how easy they are to make.  A gentle hand and not overworking your dough is key.

I would use leftover butternut squash or sweet potatoes in this recipe as well.  Feel free to add pecans to your batter…make them your own.

From start to finish (taking the scones out of the oven) – 30 minutes….that’s pretty fast.  Wait for them to cool before glazing, then allow glaze to harden.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

makes 18 mini scones

adapted from Baking: From My House to Yours

2  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 large egg

Glaze

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2-3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchement or a silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Drop in butter cubes and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized and smaller (various sizes).  I squeeze the butter with my fingertips, and as soon as I feel the greasiness of the butter, I drop it back in the flour, and look for another piece to squeeze. Do that until you can’t really pick up any pieces and that should be fine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together pumpkin, cream and egg. Whisk until well blended.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and gently stir with a spatula until it is combined and forms a dough. If it seems quite sticky, add a little more flour.  It should be a nice soft dough.

Place dough on a floured counter and split into 3 equal pieces.  Form into discs approximately 1 inch thick. Cut each disc into 6 wedges. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned and tops seem just firm. Cool.

Mix up glaze and spread onto scones. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Allow glaze to harden. ENJOY.

mix flour, spices, salt and sugar together

toss butter cubes in flour mixture

mix wet ingredients together, add to flour mixture

form dough into 3 discs, cut into wedges

place wedges on baking sheet

YUM YUM YUM

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberries and Pecans (GF)

buckwheat pancakes

I found some organic, stone milled buckwheat flour at our Local Family Farms store in Verona.  It is gluten-free, despite it’s name…and it’s Sunday…so I figured I could indulge myself with some pancakes.  The addition of blueberries and pecans comes from our menu from Sunsets Restaurant (2003-2008).  It was a popular and well-loved breakfast item amongst cottagers, locals and our kids.  If gluten is not an issue for you – try the blueberries and pecans with your regular pancake recipe, or try half buckwheat, half all-purpose flour for some extra fiber and flavour.  Either way, blueberries and pecans make a great combo in baked goods.

*This product does turn out drier than conventional pancakes, so try serving maple syrup on the side– it tends to get absorbed quickly.

Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberries and Pecans

adapted from Umbrella-d.com

makes about 8  5inch pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk, use whatever you like)

2 tsp melted butter

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients together, mix all wet ingredients together, then mix both together. Stir until well-combined.

Preheat large skillet to medium-high.  Grease pan lightly with a neutral oil.  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake into hot pan.

Sprinkle pecans and blueberries over pancake batter. Cook until edges are browned, flip and continue to cook for another minute or two.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

mix together dry, mix together wet, then combine

cook pancakes in medium hot pan

serve with butter and real maple syrup

yum

Apple Nut Muffins

apple nut muffins

It’s that time of year again – making lunches, yay! These are a delicious yet healthy lunchbox snack, great for a breakfast on the run or afternoon tea.   Sure, these have sugar and butter in them – but they also have oats, nuts, apples and dried fruit — and no toxic chemicals, preservatives or HFCS.  They are delicious…I only have one big kid here, and they lasted about one day.  A very good recipe.

APPLE NUT MUFFINS

adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

makes 12 regular sized muffins

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup apple cider (or another 1/2 cup milk if you don’t have cider)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1  3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup large-flake oats
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries or any dried fruit (raisins, etc)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 F. Line 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Place pan on baking sheet.

Whisk together milk, cider, egg, vanilla and almond extracts and butter in small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt to combine thoroughly. Toss in the brown sugar, then add the oats and whisk the dry ingredients a few more times to mix. Switch to a large rubber spatula and stir in the liquid ingredients, stirring just until everything is moistened–as with all muffins, less mixing is better than more. Gently stir in the apple, nuts and dried fruit.  Using  a 1/3 cup scoop or measuring cup, scoop batter into muffin cups, ensuring that it is evenly distributed. Top with a sprinking of oatmeal flakes, if desired, for decorative effect.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins  are golden brown and centers bounce back when pressed with your finger.  Cool. Remove from pan. Enjoy as is (delish)  or with some butter, peanut butter, almond butter, jam….very delicious muffin with lots of fiber, a good one for the lunch boxes if walnuts are allowed.

mix up batter - adding wet ingredients to dry, mix only until combined

fill muffin cups to top, making sure batter is distributed evenly

sprinkle some oats on top before baking if desired

Healthy Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Snack Bars

quinoa dark chocolate snack bars

Here’s a healthy and very tasty snack bar that works well in school lunches or as an afternoon snack.  They are sweetened with maple syrup and composed of cooked quinoa and a few different gluten free flours. I cut and wrap these individually and store them in the freezer. The quinoa and eggs contribute to these bars having a fair amount of protein so they are filling…but they also taste delicious. Give them a try if you are not interested in buying mass produced, high-fructose corn syrup-laden bars. The best part about these gluten-free, low glycemic bars is that they taste great. Continue reading

French Crêpes

blueberry ice cream filled crepe with yogurt and berries with lemon zest

ham and swiss filled crepe with mustard sauce

Crêpes are like very thin pancakes that you must handle a little more gently so as not to tear them. The batter is simple, but it needs to ‘rest’ at least an hour after you mix it up. They can be used in a myriad of ways – plain with maple syrup and butter, filled with fruit and cream or even used in savoury applications — ham and asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, chicken and broccoli in a cream sauce – the possibilities are limitless. The crêpes will keep well in the fridge or freezer, stacked with parchement paper in between. Continue reading