Category Archives: Pastries

Persimmon Scones

I love my residents. I shared one of my clementine scones with one of my newer ones, and in return she gave me a couple of dried persimmons to use in my baking. Now, I really haven’t had a persimmon before. Mikal was able to snag one off a neighbor’s tree at some point last year and I tried a bite at that time, but it was odd and I had no idea what to expect, so I wasn’t sure if it was even ripe of any sort. I have no idea to this day what they are supposed to taste like. I have been making a lot of scones lately, though, and it seemed like that might be a good thing to use them in. After looking around a bit, I found the following, but it called for fresh persimmons. Being a generally cautious person, I just went ahead and used two dried persimmon halves – and the response was pretty damn good.

Persimmon Scones
from We Make a Beautiful Mess

2 dried persimmons (original calls for 2 cups fresh)
2 tsp vanilla
4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
2 cups cold buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 380°F. Remove the stem-bit from the dried persimmons, then chop the gooeyness into a desirable size. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, and stir together. Cut or shave the butter into dry ingredients. Use our hands or a fork to break up the butter into small chunks throughout the mixture.

(You know, the couple of times I saw my mom make scones, she cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a couple of butter knives, and she used her hands to bring the wet and dry ingredients together. At the time I thought it was gross – I had a tactile issue with slimy/sticky things. I still have this issue to some extent, but this time in making scones I decided to put everything together by hand. It was really very satisfying, and I can understand why people would choose to do so.)

Add the milk, vanilla, then the persimmons. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together, adding the milk or any leftover pulp to the dough as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down into a rectangle and cut into triangles, or use a cookie-cutter (it works amazingly well! I have a candy-corn shaped cutter that I use and it’s pretty awesome) to shape the scones and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of space between the scones – these do puff up. Sprinkle raw sugar over the tops and bake 25-35 minutes or until just slightly browned.


This recipe makes somewhere around 18 or so scones. It’s a bit, so share them with friends. They will thank you.

Clementine Scones

Apparently, my wonderful boss-lady never really liked scones. Weird, huh? Well, to her credit, they can be crumbly and hard to eat, as well as insanely dry. But apparently I have the magic touch with scones for her – I tend to make them moister, smaller, things like that. When we were brainstorming my latest batch of yummies to bring to work, she ended up surfing the interwebs and printed half a dozen different scone recipes for me to choose from. It was pretty awesome.

I settled on a double-orange scone recipe that incorporates both chopped orange segments and grated peel. I had just bought a couple of 5lb bags of clementines from Sprouts because they were on an amazing sale, and figured that would be a great use for them. And oh….was it good. In fact, I made two versions of it, one with spice. I actually liked that particular version more – it gives it quite the complexity to the orange flavor, while not detracting from the refreshment of the citrus flavor.

Clementine Scones

based on Double-Orange Scones with Orange Butter

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated clementine peel
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup clementine segments, chopped (I chopped them into quarters – that seemed a good size)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tbsp raw sugar

*for the spice version: knock the granulated sugar down to 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp brown sugar; add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, cloves, nutmeg. Add all to the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix flour, 3 tbsp sugar, the baking powder and clementine peel. Cut in 1/3 cup butter using pastry blender or fork until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add clementine segments, milk and egg; stir just until mixture leaves side of the bowl and a soft dough forms.

Place dough on floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times, working to ensure even distribution of moisture. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, roll or pat dough out into a 7″ round. Sprinkle with 1tbsp raw sugar. Cut into 8 wedges, and separate slightly.

Toss scones in freezer for at least an hour. (The nice thing about freezing the scones: you don’t have to bake them all right now – just grab as many out as you need for whatever you’re doing.) 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a different baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner, and arrange the scones. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Eat. Be happy. 

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Brioche dough for beignet and cinnamon rolls

I discovered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day a couple of years ago, and I have never once regretted getting it. I am sometimes confused and perplexed by their instructions (you’ll see an example of that in this post), but for the most part they are spot on.

The idea behind the book is that one can have freshly-baked bread whenever they want it as long as they make bulk dough recipes. It pretty much works out that if you make a bulk batch of, say, honey wheat bread on the weekend, you’ll have fresh bread to accompany dinner throughout the week. And the recipes are really nicely scalable, too, in case you don’t necessarily want to have a five quart bucket of dough sitting in your fridge.

I haven’t yet played around with all of the recipes – I feel the need to master the few that I have tried before trying more complex ones. My dough is almost never just right – I tend to worry that I will over-rise it, so my tendency is toward under-risen dough. It tends to come out dense, rather than that nice almost fluffy texture you’ll find in a good baguette. Once I figure out how to make it rise appropriately, I will surely celebrate on here and all the interwebs will know that I can finally make a good loaf of bread.

In the meantime, I have discovered the following recipe for brioche dough in the book, and it’s amazing. It’s my go-to dough for cinnamon or any other type of swirly-roll and beignets. This morning I’m making spinach turkey and cheese rolls because we have some spinach that isn’t quite as happy as it should be. Mikal has also promised to make caramel rolls with my failed caramels if only I would make the dough. The dough is made – and already niftily portioned out into batchy-clumps for easy use.

Brioche Dough

from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Note: The original recipe as posted makes four 1 lb loaves. Considering I forget it is sitting in the fridge half the time, I tend to halve the recipe – it’s a pretty easy split. 

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
7 1/2 cups unbleached flour

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with the dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with the dough hook). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling. (You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished products.)

Loosely cover the dough and let rest at room temperature for a couple of hours or until the dough rises and falls. Stick dough into the refrigerator to chill and firm.

You can use the dough once it is chilled to the point of being firm enough to handle comfortably. I tend to put it in overnight – the first time I made it I under-chilled it; really bad idea, seriously messy and sticky.

From here the dough can go a few different places. To make the spinach rolls, I took about a third of the half-batch I did, rolled it out to about 1/8″ thick, and sprinkled with garlic powder, cayenne, grated cheddar cheese, turkey sandwich meat slices, spinach, and more cheese. It will be a bit annoying to roll together, but I rolled and sliced them and put them into muffin pan cavities. I have never been one for pulling cinnamon rolls out of a pan – too sticky/messy and they tend to look less than perfect once they are out of the pan. With the spinach rolls, it just makes more sense to do singles anyway. Also, if you notice that the dough is a bit hard to handle (warmed, that is), you can chill it before attempting to slice it.

Once the rolls are cut and roll-ish, loosely cover and let rise for an hour if chilled, 40 mins if you were brave and let the dough warm up before rolling out. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bake for ~40 minutes or until yummy-looking.


Sadly, I took the rolls downstairs to the office before getting a picture of them – and of course they have been devoured. Why do I do this every time and expect to miraculously get different results? Because I am crazy.

Perhaps I will have the opportunity to share pictures of the caramel rolls Mikal will make. (hint)

Chocolate Cream Pie

Yes, you read that right: chocolate cream pie. I’m going there. You remember when I put the banana cream pie up, right? This will be better. Do you know why? Because chocolate makes everything better.

My biggest concern with the recipe was adding the chocolate. I wasn’t sure whether to add the chocolate to the cream before it was added to the egg, while it was on the stovetop afterward, or when stirring it on the ice bath. I logicked it out to while on the stove before adding to the egg. I used Dove dark chocolate (what better than that?), and added about and ounce and a half, stirred it in to melting. It didn’t seem to be completely incorporating at that point, so I held off on it. I tempered the egg/starch mixture with the milk, mixed it all together… and realized that it didn’t look very chocolatey. Also, it was very much incorporated. So I added another ounce and a half or so while bringing the mixture to a boil on the stove. That was fun – trying to make sure the cream didn’t scorch while crumbling up hardish chocolate. Part of the reason for making cream pie filling twice so close together was that the first two times it turned out a bit runny – the pastry cream hadn’t cooked long enough to fully set, so when I served it up it puddled. This time I let it cook until I was sure that it was too long – the cream was thick, felt like it might be scalding at the bottom, and was getting really hard to get the whisk through. While stirring it in the ice bath, I tried a bit and thought that it was surely going to be an experiment gone wrong – the chocolate flavor was a bit odd, hadn’t really permeated, it didn’t have that nice vanilla flavor it usually has. But I went with it, kept going. Turns out it was one of the best things I have ever made. The chocolate flavor was exquisite after sitting in the fridge overnight. I made a bunch of miniature cream pies, with a chocolate shortbread crust, and just a small dollop of whipped cream on each to counter the richness.

As you can see, they didn’t survive long enough to have a picture taken.

 

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.