Pomegranate Scones

I have pretty much always had a love-hate relationship with pomegranates. I love how they look, how they taste, and how mess-less the actual meat of the fruit is; I absolutely hate trying to get the fruit out. I can have all the patience in the world with unknotting yarn skeins that have been given to kittens and take hours, but I hate picking pomegranate seeds from the fruit. Absolutely no patience for it. So I really haven’t had all that much pomegranate, which is rather unfortunate.

I recently came across a Pinterest pin that described soaking a pomegranate to get the seeds out: the lining absorbs so much water that it actually pushes the seeds away from itself, making it a million times easier to get at them. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but you know I will.

In the mean time, I found another pin for pomegranate scones. They look so pretty! I don’t know about the seed-parts of the seeds, but it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, there are no pomegranates in sight at the moment, and I’m too lazy to go to the store this morning for them. Luckily, I have some pomegranate syrup from my birthday not-cake, an apple-pomegranate tarte tatin. You’ll be seeing that up here eventually because it was super-amazing.

Below is a variation of the recipe from the pin I found, substituting some things here and there.

They turned out amazing, by the way. Don’t take my word for it. Just try it – you’ll see.

Pomegranate Scones

adapted from Project Fairytale

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup pomegranate syrup, divided
1/4 cup half and half
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar

Make ahead: Pomegranate Syrup

Bring 3 cups pure pomegranate juice to a boil on the stove and reduce until a scant 1 cup . Chill 1hr.

Take cold butter and either chop into 1/8″ cubes, or grate with a cheese grater. (I personally have not had luck with the cheese grater option – it’s messy and a lot ends up melting on your hands by the time it’s finished. That being said, there are a lot of people who swear by that technique.) Place back in fridge while prepping other ingredients.

Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl with a whisk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then add half and half and 1/2 cup chilled pomegranate syrup. Set aside.

Cut chilled butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg mixture and gently mix together until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll or pat out to a desired thickness. From here, the possibilities abound: you can go the traditional scone route and form the dough into a circle then cut into wedges; you can also roll it out and use cookie cutters, which I find to be SO FUN. I mean, I can make pumpkin-shaped pumpkin scones for crying out loud.

Once scones are shaped, place 1″ apart on baking sheet in the freezer while oven preheats to 400°F. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden on top. Cool on wire rack.

In small bowl, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar to remaining 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup; whisk until blended. Add remaining powdered sugar to the mixture in 1/4 cup increments until it is all incorporated. If the glaze is thicker than you would prefer, add a tsp of water or vanilla to adjust consistency.

Dip scone tops in glaze and let set on wire rack. I tried artfully dripping more of the pomegranate syrup on the top of the set glaze, but it didn’t quite work out as planned visually. Tasted amazing, though ^^

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Looks a little like blood, doesn’t it?
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Totally looks less like blood on close-up. 

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

A little while ago I tried to make baked eggnog doughnuts. They turned out a little dense and interesting, which is why I haven’t posted them yet – need to get some adjustments down. It would make sense that a baked doughnut of this type would be pretty much a cakey muffiny sort of thing, right? Maybe not – looking up baked doughnut recipes and seeing what comes of them is on my to-do list.

In the mean time, I came across this recipe for glazed doughnut muffins, the image of which evokes a glazed old-fashioned doughnut. Depending on how this comes out, I may translate this recipe over to the baked doughnuts to see if something awesome comes out of it.

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

from Easy Cookbook Recipes

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12-18 muffin cups (my batch made 19, with some being a little smaller – I noticed the large amount of levener and opted to not fill the cups more than 2/3 full) with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, vegetable oil, and both sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to the mixing bowl incrementally, alternating with milk; begin and end the process with the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into the pan cavities; keep in mind that they will rise significantly.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are nicely brown. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. In the mean time, make the glaze:

3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Blend confectioners’ sugar into wet ingredients 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until smooth each time. Dip cooled muffins in glaze and let set; repeat this process if desired.


Happy Birthday Rebecca!

I have never really been fond of making what could be called “traditional” cakes – I think it has something to do with the fact that I’m still a lousy decorator.  My thought is this: without the whole looking pretty thing, why would you make a normal cake?

It seems it would be prudent of me to expand my abilities, though, because making traditional cakes is pretty fun. If you have ever seen Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes, you’ll understand that a traditional cake is a blank canvas on which you can create nearly anything. It’s pretty awesome. As much as I love making more intricate cakes like the Bon Appétit Ribbon Cake or a Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake with Hazelnut Crunch – and believe me, they are amazing to eat and very fun to make – well-made traditional cakes have a simple elegance to them. If you were to take a look at my pinterest boards, you would see I have one of them dedicated to Food Decoration and Presentation; it’s half-filled with beautiful cakes.

In the mean time, I have made a pretty awesome cake for my friend Rebecca. As I have done with nearly all the newer people I have met and will be in close contact with for a while, I asked her pretty early on what kind of cakes/sweets/desserts she likes. She had mentioned what I would call a seven-layer cake, with each layer comprised of a different item – cookie crust, brownie, chocolate cake, white cake, etc. As much as I would enjoy that challenge, it was just a little much to wrap my brain around having just come off the holiday season and baked my mind away. After consulting people, I decided on a visually striking cake that would be much easier to execute.

You can make this cake with any non-colorful base, really – you could use boxed cake mix if you wanted. I decided on a butter cake, as it would be hearty enough to deal with having a bunch of food coloring mixed in, and would retain a good bit of moisture. If I could have, though, I totally would have done a lemon chiffon, but I don’t think it would be sturdy enough to endure the food color additive aspect and keep its levity.

I briefly thought of adding a flavoring to the cake to give it some interest, but realized it really wouldn’t need it; instead, I added it to the icing and it came out pretty amazing.

Below you will find the recipes I used and the techniques. I didn’t take any pictures during the process, but I will provide links to the pages I used as reference for it.

Yellow Butter Cake

from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America

3 1/2 cups cake flour*
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking pouder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, diced, at room temperature (dice while cold – it’s easier)
1 cup milk, divided
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract

*to make cake flour, substitute 2 tbsp cornstarch for 2 tbsp flour for each 1 cup flour; be sure to sift to ensure adequate distribution

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans lightly with cooking spray, or wipe down with vegetable oil or butter and finely coat with flour.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of the milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

In a separate bowl, blend the eggs, egg whites, remaining 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the batter in 3 addition, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed after each addition to ensure incorporation.

Divide the batter evenly between six (or however many colors you’re doing) smaller bowls. Each bowl should have its own stir stick of some sort, unless you want to be washing the same stirring implement over and over again. Add a small amount of color to each bowl, stirring to distribute evenly. In whatever order you desire, add spoonfuls of each color to a pan, each time putting it into the center –  check out Siriously Delicious’s image below and click the link if you would like to see her explanation:

siriously delicious: Rainbow Cake

Once finished with the color plopping, place pans in oven and bake until the layers spring back when touched lightly in the center, 35-40 minutes.

Remove the layers from the oven and cool completely in their pans on wire racks. Release the sides and bottom of the layers from the pans with a narrow metal spatula or a table knife before unmolding.

And now for the fun! Because I prefer to surprise – and also frankly because the colors are VERY INTENSE in this cake – I opted to have it look very unassuming from the outside. Thus I went with a simple buttercream frosting, though I gussied it up with a bit of orange extract.

Simple Buttercream

from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus extra as needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream, half & half, or whole milk

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture, 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, extracts, and salt and mix on low speed until the sugar and butter are blended, scraping down the bowl with a silicone spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, add the cream in a thin stream. Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until very smooth, light, and a good spreading consistency. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding a bit of confectioners’ sugar or cream. Use to fill, ice, and decorate the cake.

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Ok, I couldn’t help but put the confetti sprinkles on the outside to give a little hint – it looked to plain without it, and I just don’t have the skills yet to make plain icing look super-awesome.


The finished product from the inside – I did put WAAAAY too much icing on the top – need to refine my technique there. We’ll see how I do on my next cake.

Happy New Year!

Holy buttons, it’s 2014!  Can you believe that?! I do… but only because it’s staring me in the face.

I have never been one for new year’s resolutions, but I can’t help but be infected by the concept of a new year bringing the opportunity for change. It’s most likely because we’ve had a lot of change going on at work, and there are more changes coming up in the pipelines. I guess I’m just keeping with that idea and continuing it to my personal life. You know, going back to working out on a regular basis, promising myself I’ll clean the house more, pushing myself to actually post here on a regular basis – the usual.

To that end, I’m re-engaging in the site. As you can see, the site has gone through another change of face. I’m still trying to find the perfect everything for it, so expect this to happen once or twice a year… as it has been doing. It’ll happen – just go with it.

I will be taking the time to post what I worked on through the holidays, at least the items I haven’t posted. The goal again is to maintain one post per week, doing work-ahead when I can to ensure that I keep up with it. That’s what I’m shooting for – let’s hope I can get my shit together enough to do so.

Non-Traditional Gingerbread Cookies

When it comes to baking, I’m something of a neophile – I have a few recipes that I’ll go back to time after time to make, but I love discovering new ones. I’m one of those people who stockpiles tons of recipes that look delicious and I swear I will one day make. Mikal has tried a few times to give this idea structure – we bought a few cookbooks at Borders at one point, and he had us go through and flag the recipes we thought we might want to make, with the intent of one-by-one going through and making them; never happened.

This is how it came to be that when I had all of my recipes, ingredients, and batches planned out for my gifting this year that I discovered the following recipe while looking up another – and added an impromptu 4 batches of it to my load. Luckily, it turned out to be a less-buttery substitute for my usual Orange-Cardamom sugar cookies. To me, the recipe just looked interesting – a gingery citrusy cookie to add to the bunch. It turns out that this particular cookie has great structural integrity, and would make AMAZING gingerbread houses. You know how most gingerbread houses taste like the incarnation of evil?  Not very gingery, harder than rock after sitting out a day, and might as well be moldable cardboard. These have a wonderful flavor, and while they don’t stay soft after they cool, they soften right up in your mouth – keeping the structural integrity one needs for a house, while ensuring that you’ll be able to eat it later as long as you don’t use glue in the icing. You really don’t need to mix glue in the icing, by the way – just use royal icing.

Ginger-Orange Stars
from BonAppetit

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup robust/dark molasses
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well-blended. Beat in molasses, egg yolk, orange peel, and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl, then add flour mixture to wet ingredients and beat until just blended. Gather dough into a ball. Divide into 3-4 pieces, flatten each piece into a disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill dough until cold and firm, at least 4hrs.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Roll out one piece of dough on a lightly powdered-sugared surface (using powdered sugar rather than flour keeps the dough from getting too dry/floury, and also minimizes the discoloration one sometimes gets on cookies from over-flouring.) and roll to 1/4-3/8″ thickness. Cut out cookies in desired shapes and space 1/2″ apart on cookie sheet. Gather scraps and re-roll dough until pan is adequately filled. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Completely cool cookies on rack prior to icing.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites (this is why it’s good to do a double batch of cookies)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2.5 cups powdered sugar

Place egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl and whisk until loosened, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-low (my mixer has 10 speeds and I was at 3) until slightly frothy, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments until incorporated. You will likely have to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets in. Once the icing looks like something you would want to have on a cookie (you’ll understand what I mean when you make this – when it’s first getting  mixed together it looks horrid, but once the sugar is fully incorporated it looks like a slightly shiny creamy whiteness), the icing is ready to use. At this point you can separate into different bowls and add coloring, then put into a piping bag. For storage, if the icing is not in a piping bag, cover with plastic wrap with the plastic touching the surface of the icing – that way it doesn’t harden. If it’s in piping bags, just stopper both ends (paper clips for the back end work nicely – you don’t actually have to stopper the front end unless it’s likely to leak while it’s in the fridge) and toss in the fridge. I’m not sure how long the icing will keep this way – I revisited mine after a week and it was fine.