Category Archives: Breads

Revisiting Pumpkin Scones

The pumpkin scones I made a week ago were such a hit at the office that I couldn’t pass up an excuse to make them again. I won’t rehash the whole recipe, but this time I added a quarter cup flour to the mix right off the bat to prevent the stickiness. I have a feeling that I would take it down to 1/8th cup next time, because they didn’t turn out terribly dry, but they seemed dryer than I was expecting given the first batch. The dough was much easier to work with time, though it did eventually get to being sticky again once all flour was worked in. At least I was able to pick up the wedges without a spatula to get them on the baking sheet this time.

Also: picture!

Also, just so you know… I’m getting totally addicted to pinterest. I have been on it for the last couple of weeks getting ideas for various holiday items/decor/sendables I could make. The ribbons on the plate was a pinterest inspiration. I have a problem with giving away goodies on plates, and keep having to chase the plates down. This is a great alternative – disposable, but has a little interest with the ribbons. Makes it not seem so much like a paper plate. I do need to invest in smaller plates, though, so that I don’t have to give away whole big platters of things.

Amazing Pumpkin Scones

I completely forgot about making anything for work today until around ten last night. It just never entered my mind. So I scrambled for this recipe that I’ve had sitting on my desktop for a while now for pumpkin scones. It’s supposed to be a very close approximation for Starbucks pumpkin scones, and I guess I would say that they achieve that. They’re better, actually. More moist. They do get a bit tough to work with – I had to add probably a quarter cup more flour to the recipe once I got it out of the bowl because it was just that sticky. Perhaps it’s because I use fresh pumpkin purée, rather than canned? That’s my bet.

Pumpkin Scones


(This recipe makes 6 Starbucks-sized scones. I doubled it and easily got about 16-18 of varying sizes)
Scones
2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée
3 tbsp half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes

Spiced Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease baking sheet and dust with flour or use parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half and egg.

Cut butter into dry ingredients. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form dough into a ball. The dough will be wet, but if it seems super sticky just go ahead and sprinkle a bit more flour into the dough until it is easier to handle. Remember, you want it to be somewhat sticky and that’s ok – but you don’t want it to stick to the baking sheet. You also don’t want to overwork it or you’ll lose a lot of the flaky-goodness of scone. Pat dough onto baking sheet into a roughly rectangle shape. (From here I stuck it in the fridge for a bit to help it be a bit more handle-friendly. I would say stick in for half an hour if you’re having trouble.) Cut into rough squares, then cut the squares diagonally to make into triangles. Place ~1 inch apart.

Bake for around 15 minutes, or until lightly brown. Remove scones from baking sheet and let cool completely on cooling rack.

Whisk icing ingredients together and drizzle on top of each scone.

Enjoy the amazing.

Fall is upon us!

I love fall. I love the colors, I love the smells, I love how the weather gets a bit crisper and you have to wear a bit more clothing. I love everything about it. Fall and winter bring out my baking with a vengeance. On top of that, I love throwing parties. I find them to be amazingly fun. I love decorating, and I love making themed foods. I love it all.

Today is not so much a baking day, though I have been doing a fair amount lately. I just haven’t had much time or energy to actually sit down and write about it. I keep wanting to put photos up but I just haven’t gotten my stuff together quite enough to do it.

Anyway, I woke up today burning to bake a couple of sugar pie pumpkins I have, and finally getting around to syruping and canning some strawberries we have in the fridge. With one pumpkin in the oven and the strawberry juice cooking, I realized…. I have no idea where my jar lids are >< Not that I can find that many of my jars – I have four that I know the location of. So I dashed out the door to grab more jars and some more half-and-half because I was out, and that makes me sad.

It’s one of those beautiful days out – it’s going to be pretty warm today, because it’s decently warm already, but it’ll be beautiful and perfect, and I want to take advantage of it because it’s my day off. I took my time walking to the stores, looked at the succulents outside of Orchard Supply, as well as the fall/halloween decorations. I have so many ideas! At one point on Thursday when it finally slowed down toward the evening at work, I started looking through the Food Network and Sunset websites for ideas – my halloween party is just a month away!

I know I’m going to make a really awesome pumpkin soup I made last year – you cook a soup of broth and spices, possibly some other stuff (can’t quite remember), then you hollow out a pumpkin and serve it in the pumpkin with gruyère cheese on top. Amazing! I’ve also decided on leaf-shaped cookies, probably the cardamom sugar cookie recipe I have made for xmas before. I want to figure out a good molasses cookie recipe – if anyone has any that are tried and true, I’d love to see them – because those are amazing for fall. I might even do whoopie pies, not sure. Never made them before >.>

I may attempt a pumpkin cheesecake, too. I’m not really a fan of flavored cheesecakes; I like my cheesecakes nice and naked, thank you very much. But I have a feeling that the flavor of the pumpkin would actually do really well with the cream cheese, and compliment it rather than making funky with the texture or flavor.

Other thoughts on things to try: pumpkin caramels, pumpkin waffles (need wafflemaker), pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin pie parfait, pumpkin punch, etc.

The one thing I’m not so certain on are decorations. I know I will be bringing my witchy Domo down – can’t have a party without him. But other than that I have no solid ideas. I don’t want to have to put down too much money on it, so it’ll probably be home-made, but I don’t want to be spending forever on it. I know Mikal has volunteered to put stuff together, but we haven’t made any solid plans yet. I would definitely welcome ideas – both for fall and halloween themes.

And now for the good stuff. 🙂 I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I have been using for three years now, and it’s just perfect. The only hiccough I had with this batch was that my ground cloves came out a bit more densely packed than my other spices – kind of like brown sugar does – and so there was a bit of a strong hint of cloves. Oh well – it was still amazingly awesome.

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil or 2 sticks butter (I use butter)
3 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin purée
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two loaf or muffin pans (or use baking cups). Beat sugar and oil/butter in a large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin purée. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center come out clean – about 1hr for loafs, 1/2 hour for muffins. Transfer to racks and cool 10 mins. Remove loaves from pans using a knife around the sides (and perhaps a spatula on the bottom – sometimes sticks even with butter/flour). Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Eat. Eat more. Share. Eat more.

A real weekend (at last!)

The last couple of weeks I’ve been picking up an extra 8 hours helping out at one of our new properties. It’s great money, but it was killing me. I was slated for a third week of it, which I would have done, but my wonderful boss told me not to bother. I was kinda bummed (money ; ;), but I needed that time off more than I realized.

This last weekend I had both Sunday -and- Monday off, and it was amazing. Sunday I ended up sitting out by the pool and soaking up some sun, which was awesome, and Monday I baked up a storm. I didn’t really mean to, but we had a lot of stuff in the fridge that was expiring and needed to be used. I made zucchini bread muffins, blueberry scones, and banana cream pie.

Did you know that August 27th is Banana Lover’s Day? We have these odd calendars in the office from the furniture rental company we recommend to our residents, and along with the normal national/religious holidays, it has other sundry observances, usually along the food line – such as Banana Lover’s Day. Apparently I missed Cheese Cake Day a few weeks ago. I’ve been kinda-sorta using it to plot out what I’ll make on Mondays or Thursdays if it’s convenient.

Even after making zucchini bread muffins, I still had about a cup of zucchini left, and as it’s Thursday I decided to query the internets as to the possibility of zucchini scones. I thought it sounded odd, but then people seem to like the combo of chocolate and zucchini. Turns out I’m not the only one who has thought of zucchini scones. I stumbled upon a recipe that does something interesting as far as the butter in the recipe goes. Instead of cutting the butter in, they grate it, freeze it, and then briefly integrate it into the flour mixture before adding zucchini and moving forward. I am intrigued – the scones I made Monday ended up not being flaky enough for my tastes, and I have a feeling the problem was a couple of things: I know I added too much liquid (I just tipped my hand too much the last addition), and I think I made the butter a bit too small when cutting it into the flour. I read in the CIA Baking at Home book that when you’re making pie crusts, you should cut the butter in really well (small crumb-bits) if you’re going to be baking a filling in the crust – apple, cherry, or other hot-filling pie – so that the filling doesn’t break apart and can stand up to the filling; but if you’re going to be filling it after completely baking it, especially if that substance isn’t particularly liquidy/wet, you want to leave larger crumb-bits so that the crust is flaky. It makes sense that if I wanted my scones to be more flaky, I should leave larger crumb-bits. We’ll see how this grating idea works.

Zucchini Scones

4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
1 c buttermilk (plus additional, if necessary)
1 c grated zucchini, dried well

Grate the unsalted butter on a box grater over some plastic wrap. Throw the grated butter in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. (She seems to like using her hands to combine things – I agree up to the point where my hands start getting sticky-doughy.)

Once the butter is hard, toss it gently with the dry ingredients, being careful not to melt the butter with your body heat. (What I did was I initially broke up the grated butter mass and integrated it into the flour a bit with the fork, then once it was manageable used my fingers to make sure there weren’t any terribly large clumps.)

Add the buttermilk and grated zucchini and mix quickly with your hands. The mixture shouldn’t be dry. (Mine wasn’t, but then I think part of my moisture problem with the last batch of scones was just how much water the zucchini had retained. I squeezed out this batch and let it sit in a sieve for a while to drain, but I have a feeling that still left too much. Maybe I need to keep it out for a few hours or something and really let it dry?)

Using a portion scoop, scoop mounds of scone dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave enough space between mounds so that the scones can expand slightly as they bake.

Bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly.


The recipe goes on to mention making an icing for the scones, but I’ll have to see how they turn out before I can determine whether they’ll need icing or not.

[later]

They’re certainly interesting. I’ve had to bake them a good 10 minutes longer than the 15 minute mark, perhaps because I have so many on the pan. They do have a nice texture, though not the scone-texture I was hoping for. They’d make a good muffin – nice and light and moist. Eventually I will figure out how to make scones. I have a feeling part of it is that I end up handling the wet dough too much – I keep trying to make sure that the added ingredient (blueberries, zucchini) is fully integrated and not oddly clumped, and I have a feeling that while I’m doing that I’m just working the dough all to hell. I’ll have to try plain scones one of these weeks, because scones are pretty awesome. I’ll also look at my pumpkin scones, because as I remember those turned out decently well.

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

On a totally irrelephant note: I hate my dishwasher. It beeps about once a minute or so when it’s open. Mikal doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, but it annoys the buttons out of me. Seriously.

Anyway….

I’ve been attempting to make a little something to bring to work on Thursdays, since we start an hour later than the rest of the week. It’s a good little idea, it’s a way to get my baked goods eaten by someone other than myself and Mikal, and it’s fun. I like it.

I totally forgot I was starting this little breakfasty-thing until around 6:45 this morning when my alarm went off. I was trying to think of something, anything to make, while fighting off the sluggishness of sleeeeeeeeeepies. Snooze was hit twice. By the time the alarm went off the third time, I had two ideas: I could attempt to make a peach-filled crêpe for each person, or I could utilize the one-inch square cavity silicone pan I have to make brownies. I could even top each brownie bite with either an almond, peanut butter, or nothing. It was a good idea…until I remembered that I still haven’t figured out a good homemade brownie recipe, and I really don’t have anything outside of powdered cocoa in the house for chocolate. The crêpes were still in the running, but I wasn’t sure the peaches were up to it. I had let them sit in the fridge for a bit to ripen, but they were still not quite there, or at least the last batch hadn’t been.

I made some coffee and sat with Mr. Ginger and Baking at Home with the CIA and tried to figure out what I could pull together at the last minute. I could have tried the zucchini bread recipe again, but I did that just last week and wasn’t too excited by it – definitely needs some tweaking. I had also made the peach galette in the book, but the dough had turned out a bit meh, same with the peaches. Not great, though a good idea. And then I came across the dutch baby. Easy, you cook the peaches a bit before using them as a filling, I have all the ingredients, and it’s something that would probably be light enough for everyone: instant winner.

This batch of peaches has so far proven to be more ripe than the last, so I can hope that the peachy flavor will come through a bit more. The filling for the galette didn’t seem quite sweet enough for the under-ripened ones, so it turned out kind of tart and meh. But, as with all of the CIA recipes I have so far encountered, the instructions are straightforward and nicely easy.

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Spiced Peaches
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place a 1-inch cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan in the oven and preheat to 450°F. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.

While the pan heats, put the eggs in a blender and blend at low speed. Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, in 3 additions. Scrape down the sides of the blender and continue to blend until smooth, 15-20 seconds. Blend in the melted butter. Brush the hot skillet with additional melted butter and pour in the batter. Bake for 10 minutes without opening the oven. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until the Dutch baby is very puffy and the edges are starting to pull away from the edges of the pan, 15-20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the spiced peaches: Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the peaches, cinnamon and brown sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the fruit is just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the Dutch baby from the oven. Drizzle with the lemon juice and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Fill the center of the Dutch baby with the hot fruit mixture. Serve immediately.


I have to say, this is an amazing recipe. Pretty simple, straightforward, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. I have a feeling the blender helps things go quickly, otherwise one would have to whisk a lot.

These were so good my boss, who usually won’t take terribly much of my sweets, grabbed a second helping right after scarfing the first. Granted she had to leave right away, but still – that’s a pretty good endorsement.