Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Peaches & Cream Scones

Peaches are a Southern staple; pies, cobblers, jam, and today, Scones.  I look forward to when I see the farm stands announcing that peaches are in, which happened a few weeks ago.  I've already done 14 jars of jam, but will certainly make more.

Today, I decided to make some scones for a breakfast treat, but really any time of the day a scone tastes delicious.  I knew that fresh fruit isn't always the first choice when making scones; it makes the dough too wet, so I decided to use dried peaches which I found at Nuts.com.

To soften the peaches, I warmed the Half-&-Half and poured it over the diced peaches to soften just slightly.  After exercising for 35 minutes, they were perfect to start the dough. In the KitchenAid mixer, the scones come together quickly and in less than 25 minutes, we had warm scones to start the day.

Peaches & Cream Scones
1 cup dried diced peaches
1/2 cup Half-&-Half, warmed until bubbles appear around the edges

Pour the cream over the diced peaches and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
dried Peach/cream mixture

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the 1/2" pieces of butter, while the mixer is running, a few at a time.  When the mixture resembles coarse sand, add the honey, egg, and extracts.  Mix on low just until the dough comes together.  Use your hands to knead a bit and place on a lightly flour board.

Roll dough to 1" thick.  Cut into 8 pie-shaped pieces and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
 Mix 1 large egg + 1 tsp. Half-&-Half and brush on the tops of the scones.  I also take a toothpick and poke a few holes in the surface of the scone to achieve an even bake.

Bake for 14-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Optional Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
1- 1/2 T very warm water

Drizzle glaze over the warm scones and serve with butter and Peach Jam.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Maple~Pecan Doughnut Puffs and June's Give-Away Apron

We've heard of the Cronuts; a croissant dough that is shaped into a doughnut and fried.  It's a trademarked pastry that was invented by New York pastry chef, Dominque Ansel.  As an alternative and much lighter version, I made up a pate a choux dough and piped it into a doughnut pan to bake this morning.  To top it off, I made a Maple Pecan icing because one of my favorite doughnuts, when we lived in the Pacific Northwest, was "Top Pots" Maple Bars.

This dough is typically used to make profiteroles, eclairs, crullers, beignets, gougeres, and the list goes on.  The only ingredients are water, butter, flour, and eggs, so instead of a leavening agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to "puff" the pastry.

Maple~Pecan Doughnut Puffs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
3-4 T milk
1 tsp. Maple Extract
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasting is optional)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Two doughnut pans.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter in the water.  When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add the flour.  Quickly stir in the flour, then, lower heat and return the pan to the stove top.  Stir for about 3 minutes to make sure the flour is "cooked" into the dough.

Transfer dough to a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, start beating the dough on medium low speed.  After a few minutes, start adding the eggs, one at a time, raising the speed to medium to incorporate each egg.  Add the salt and beat again.  If you like a sweeter dough, add the sugar, but it is optional.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat once more.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag, fitted with a 3/4-inch round tip.  Pipe the dough into the wells of the pan.
This recipe makes about 9 doughnuts, so if you don't have another pan, you will have to do two batches.  Bake in the preheat oven about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and "dry" looking.  Remove from the oven and immediately turn the pans upside down to release the doughnuts.  Allow to cool slightly before spreading on the glaze.

This "puffs" were light and airy and I felt no guilt from having a doughnut after exercising this morning. Enjoy!

This month's apron is definitely a "Happy" one.  When I go to my local quilt shop to pick out fabrics for the apron, sometimes, I have to walk around a few times before I see the perfect ones.  This time, these two fabrics hit me right away and no wonder--they are Moda fabrics and the collection is called, "Leave a Little Love Where Ever You Go!"  That's exactly how I feel when I sew these aprons and give them away in memory of my mother.  If you would like to win this one, just comment on any of the posts this month and your name could be drawn--good luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer's Savory~Sweet Shortbread and May's Apron Winner

My husband loves shortbread; he's Scottish and I've made dozens throughout the years.  However, I've never done a savory one so my experimenting today ventured into that category.

The days are getting warmer--our temperatures are in the 80s--and with picnics and gatherings part of the summer faire, I decided why not have a shortbread that would go great with a fruit & cheese platter.  Making a normally sweet dessert into a savory one is a challenge, but choosing the right flavor profile makes it easier.  Today, I chose three of my favorite flavors...apple, Gruyere cheese, and rosemary.

There are certainly other combinations that go just as well and you might want to experiment with them yourself.

Summer's Savory~Sweet Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 T Rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 cup dried apple, finely chopped
1 cup Gruyere Cheese, finely grated
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Spray a 9" square baking pan with a baking spray and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter well.  Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper and mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the Rosemary, apple, and Gruyere Cheese and mix again.  Add the flour and mix until the dough starts to come together--don't over mix!

Dump the "shaggy" dough into the prepared pan and press evenly, using your fingers or the back of a measuring cup.

Use a fork or a "docker" to create holes in the shortbread.  This will make for even baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and use a knife to score lines while the shortbread is still warm.  I use a "springform" square pan, so removing the sides and finishing cutting the shortbread is easy.  Serve warm or cooled...it's up to you. Shortbread will last up to 3 weeks, but with the cheese in this savory one, I would recommend keeping it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.  Enjoy!

Now, the winner of May's apron is Julie Rose!  Please email me your address and I will get this beautiful apron off to you.  Tomorrow, I will have June's apron up, so look for it with another recipe!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookies)

My mother loved these cookies, but she never made them!  The ones she had were "store-bought" and shaped like a windmill.  I think they're still available, but I'm ever more conscious of baking without preservatives and came up with a recipe that I know she'd love just as much.

Jan Hagels have a long history for the Dutch and most will tell you their "Oma" (grandma) baked them at Christmas.  The name Jan Hagel isn't actually a person the cookie was named after, but rather the word, janhagel which translates to unruly mob, swarm, or "ragtag."  In the 17th century, janhagel was a name give to sailors, riffraft,  common people, and people on the fringes of society and these cookies appealed to them!  Even though they were baked at Christmas, particularly, the feast of St. Nicholas, these cookies are enjoyed throughout the year.

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookie)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I chose to use Speculaas spices)

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Sliced almonds
Sparkling sugar
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add the egg. Beat until combined.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once and mix on low speed, just until combined.
The dough will be soft.  Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic film and wrap.  Chill 1 to 2 hours to set the butter.
After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F-degrees.  Roll the dough between parchment paper, making sure you keep the sides "squared" up.  I used my bench scrapper to do this.
I brushed the top of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkled the sliced almonds all over and finally, the sparkling sugar.  

Recipes I have seen said to bake this dough for 15 minutes and I did, but in retrospect, I would suggest chilling the rolled dough once more on the cookie sheet.  Then, remove the dough on the parchment to a cutting board and cut into rectangles.  Bake the cookies on another pan that has parchment on it for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  When I baked the large rectangle of dough for 15 minutes, the sides were done, but the middle was still too light.  Changing to the second method of baking worked much better!

These cookie are flaky and so flavorful...not to mention, my kitchen smelled heavenly.  That brings me back to another story of Jan Hagels--it was said that everyone entering the gates of heaven were given these cookies, especially children and orphans.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peachy Keen Cookies with Streusel Topping

I love turning one dessert into another; this is an example of one of my favorites--Peach Pie and now it's a cookie!  I think this would be perfect for all the picnics coming up this summer.

I had Peach Jam that I preserved from last year from South Carolina peaches and it's soooo good, but I can imagine this with Strawberry, Raspberry or Blueberry.

Peachy Keen Cookies
3/4 cup (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup Almond Flour
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Peach jam (preferably homemade:-D)

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon together.  Use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter to form the streusel.

Egg wash: 1 large egg + 1T water

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the extracts and beat to combine.  Add the flours and salt and mix just until the dough comes together.

I use a plastic pie crust bag and put the dough in there.  I rolled it to 1/4-inch thick.
If you don't have this, form the dough into a disc and chill at least 1 hour.  Then, you will have to roll out the dough on a lightly flour board.

Preheat oven 375F-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Use a 3-inch round cutter and cut out the cookies.  Place the cookie rounds on the parchment-lined sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between.
Place about 1 tablespoon jam in the center of the cookie round.
With the scrape dough, roll out and use a crimping wheel to cut strips.  Create a "lattice" across the rounds.
Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with the streusel topping.

Bake in the preheated for 13 minutes...until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  As a final touch, dust with confectioners' sugar.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

We've had three straight days of rain and clouds and I would love to be outside picking strawberries for pies and jam, but instead, I'm stuck inside to work:-(

I baked this morning before heading downstairs to the studio and came up with these bars that may remind you more of Fall rather than Spring, but I only had apples or oranges on hand.  Anything apple and spice at our house is always welcomed.  The moistness the cooked apples provide make these "hand-held" pies worth baking for snacks, lunch, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Caramel Apple Pie Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
2 cups + 2T  King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith Apples

Caramel Glaze:
6 T unsalted butter, melted
4 T milk
3-3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T caramel sauce
1 T Light Karo Syrup

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Lightly grease a "jelly roll pan" and set aside.

Peel, core and chop the apples.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and shortening together.  Add the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down sides once more.  Add the vanilla extract and Apple Pie Spice and mix again on medium speed.

Measure the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the mixture alternating with the buttermilk.  Make sure the dry ingredients are incorporated, but don't over mix.  Stir in the chopped apples and spread mixture onto the prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes while you make the glaze.
Melt the butter for the glaze in a medium sauce pan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the milk and vanilla.  Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time until you get a thick glaze.  Add the caramel sauce and stir to combine.  Pour over the apple bars, then, spread with an off-set spatula.

The recipe makes 24 bars and I can honestly say on a rainy day and a cup a tea, these are perfect. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Comfort of Bread--Cinnamon Swirl Bread

James Beard wrote..."Good Bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, is the greatest of feasts."  I concur!

Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of our daughter, Kelly's passing; a day that is etched into my heart.  Today, feeling rather drained, I decided to go into the kitchen and bake (yesterday I worked in the garden thinking of all the times I worked with Kelly in hers.)  Baking, for me, relieves stress because I am transformed back into my mother's kitchen helping her.  I needed to bake.  Going through some recipes, I came up with a Cinnamon Swirl Bread that sounded wonderful and it brought back the memory of peanut butter sandwiches on that bread that were special treats my mother would make for us.

This bread, a recipe by King Arthur Flour, has an unique streusel topping that I was intrigued to try.  Most of the Cinnamon Breads I've made have had raisins in them, however, I used the smaller currant. You could easily substitute dried cranberries and make it more festive if you don't like either raisins or currants.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 T granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature (+additional butter for the bowl and loaf pan)
1 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins or currants
2 tsp. King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 T water

Streusel Topping
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour

I "proofed" the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, adding about 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar.  I like to make sure my yeast is active and becomes foamy.  In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add the remaining ingredients (except the remaining 1/2 cup of water).  Mix a few minutes to combine the ingredients.  Add the foamy yeast and start the mixer on Setting2.  Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of lukewarm water; the dough should come together in a ball.  If you need to add more water, do 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a bread board,
Knead 5 to 7 minutes until you have a smooth dough--"like a baby's bottom" my mother would say!
Place the smooth ball into a bowl that has been brushed with melted butter.  Place dough, right side down in the bowl, then turn it over.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Make the filling and streusel while the dough is rising.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto the bread board once more and roll to a 16" x 8" rectangle.
Brush the rolled dough with the beaten egg wash, then sprinkle the filling over the center.

Starting from the short edge, roll the dough into a log.  I could have gotten more "swirling" if I had rolled tighter!  Pinch the seam and ends closed and place into a buttered 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.
Brush a piece plastic wrap with some melted butter and place over the dough for the second rising--about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 350F-degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and brush the top of the loaf with the same beaten egg.  I placed the loaf pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills of streusel!
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, tenting the loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Gently remove the loaf from the pan as to not knock off the streusel topping.
Now, here's the hard part--LET IT COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE SLICING INTO THE LOAF!  I know it's going to be hard to resist--your kitchen smells wonderful and the thought of fresh butter on a hot slice is enticing, but don't do it:-D

I will say it made a lovely peanut butter sandwich to go along with my yogurt for dinner.  I had dental surgery this past week and I'm still taking it easy.  Enjoy!