Thursday, March 31, 2016

Banoffee Scones

Banoffee is the combination of banana and toffee together; a really good combination.  The first time I heard of this was while I was watching The Great British Baking Contest on PBS.  One of the contestants did a "take" on a Banoffee Pie for her entry and it sounded delicious.

Two chefs, Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding claim to have invented this combination in 1971 in Jevington, East Sussex.  It was a take on an American dessert, "Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie that used dulce de leche and mandarin oranges.  Mackenzie suggested using bananas and it became a hit!  Consequently, the word "Banoffee" was entered into the English language and became synonymous with anything that tastes or smells like bananas and toffee.

I discovered this recipe in the latest issue of Sift magazine, produced by King Arthur Flour.  It can be found easily on the newsstand in your supermarket or book store.  Being a lover of scones this one intrigued me, but there is a whole section on Scones that may entice you even more--savory to sweet!

Banoffee Scones

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1 cup King Arthur whole wheat/white flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 medium banana, mashed
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3/4 cup Toffee bits
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425F-degrees (I use convection, so I preheated mine to 400F-degrees).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients on low speed.  Turn the machine on medium and add the butter pieces.  Continue to mix until it resembles "coarse sand."   Add the toffee bits and mix once more.  Add the mashed banana and vanilla extract and mix on low.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the buttermilk--using just enough for the mixture to come together.  I actually used almost 3/4 cups and it may vary depending if you are in a dry climate!

Remove the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead just a few times to come together.  Divide the dough in half.
Roll each half into a 6" to 8" round.  Cut the round into six pieces.
Place wedges onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the second round.  I actually brushed the tops of my scones with half & half, although the recipe didn't call for it, but I like the tops browned.  Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes...or until the scones are browned.
I decided I would like a glaze on these scones, so I mixed up:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
1-2 T hot water

I used an off-set spatula to spread some glaze on the still warm scones.  Now all you need is a cup of tea/coffee, maybe butter or clotted cream, and jam.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Brioche-like Rolls

There's nothing better than the aroma of bread (or rolls) baking.  I remember this oh so well from when my mother baked.  I made these rolls for the first time a few weeks ago and they turned out so well that I decided to bake them again and share my recipe.  Easy!!

Brioche is a challenging dough for beginners, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the wonderful texture of this dough.  I've taken out the step of allowing the dough to rest overnight in the refrigerator, but I don't think I took out any of the taste.  I know Pillsbury has been advertising on television "croissants" for Easter dinner, but wouldn't it be a nice surprise to your family not to give them something out of a can, knowing the preservatives that are inside!

Brioche-like Rolls
4 - 4 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk, slightly warm
6T unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks

1/2 cup warm water (110F-degrees)
1 pkg (about 1 T) dry yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

4-6 T butter, melted for brushing the bowl, baking pan, and tops of rolls

First, proof your yeast.  Whisk the dry yeast into the warm water and add the sugar.  Allow to sit on for 7-10 minutes.  It should appear "bubbly" or "foamy" if your yeast is active; if not, buy new yeast!

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add 4 cups of bread flour, sugar and salt and mix on low to incorporate.  Add the warm milk and your proofed yeast and turn the mixer on low (Setting #2).  While the mixer is running, add the egg yolks (save the whites for macarons!), then, the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough is soft, but should not be overly sticky.  If needed, at more flour until it comes away from the bowl.

Place dough on a bread board and knead until smooth.  Brush melted butter inside a large bowl and place the dough, right-side down, then flip it over.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Punch down dough and turn out onto the bread board.  Use a bench scraper to divide dough into twelve pieces.  Brush a 12" x 8" baking pan (I use my Le Cruset, but you can also use a glass baking dish) with the melted butter.  Roll the dough pieces into balls and place in the baking dish, leaving some room between the rolls.  Cover and allow to rise another 30 to 45 minutes (until doubled).
When the dough is close to being doubled, preheat over to 375F-degrees.  Brush tops of rolls once more with melted butter and bake for 18 minutes (or until golden brown).  Remove from the oven and yes, brush once more with butter to give a shine to the tops of the rolls.
See, easy and it doesn't have to come out of a can--Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Black & White Banana Bread

Hold on to your aprons...I've created another Banana recipe and this one is a winner!

This morning, I found five, yes five, bananas hanging on the rack and hubby says, "these are too ripe for my cereal."  Obviously, the speckled peels turns him off even though I know the banana is at its best.  What to do?  It came to me that I've never done a "marbled" banana bread, so an idea was born.

Black & White Banana Bread

3/4 cup Butter-flavored shortening (if you use the sticks, this is a simple measure!)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
4 large eggs
5 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2 oz (about 1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

1/4 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour two 9" x 5" loaf pans (or use a baking spray)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and mix again on medium speed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add the dry ingredients and the mashed bananas (all at once) and mix on LOW speed just until incorporated.  Remove from the stand and use the rubber spatula to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
Divide batter (I used the bowl from the mashed bananas to hold half of the batter).
To half the batter, add the cocoa and the melted chocolate and stir to incorporate.
I used scoops (one for the plain batter and one for the chocolate) to measure out the batter, alternating them.
Use a table knife to gently swirl the batters together.  As a final touch, I spooned about 1/4 cup of Nutella into a sandwich bag, cut a small hole in one side, then squeeze some Nutella on top of the batters before baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes.  Use a cake tester poked in the center to check if it's done.

Interesting flavors in this moist bread and the addition of the chocolate was definitely a great idea...if I do say so.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Easy Lemon Pie!

I love lemon, like my mom and sister!  And, this pie is the easiest I've ever made to satisfy that addiction.

It's a recipe I came across in the latest Hannah Swensen Mystery series by Joanne Fluke--Wedding Cake Murder.  I just bought this latest installment and there it was--"Easy Lemon Pie."  I thought, for Sunday dinner, this would definitely be a wonderful dessert.

Easy Lemon Pie
1 9-inch pie crust, preferably homemade (check out my No-Fail Pie Crust recipe)
1 whole medium-sized Lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Roll out the pie dough and put in in a 9-inch pie pan.  Crimp the edges.

Cut the tough ends off the lemon.
Then, cut the lemon in half and each half into 4 slices.  (Should look like wagon wheels!) Remove all seeds.
Place all 8 seedless slices in a blender, food processor, or VitaMix.  Turn it on and process the lemon slices until they are mush! (Best describes what it should look like.)
Add the melted butter and sugar and mix quickly.  While the appliance is running, crack the eggs, one at a time and add through the top.  Blend until it is a homogenous "mush."
Pour into the prepared pie crust and place on a pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the mixture turns solid and the top is brown.

Remove pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Once it is cooled, serve with whipped cream, fruit, or Creme Fraiche or a combination.  Pie should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

This has been a busy Sunday--lots of recipes coming in the next few days.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2016

In Honor of Mrs. Pattmore--Crumpets

As Downton Abbey came to an end, I find myself this weekend, going through withdraws!  The beloved series on PBS kept us all wondering what the Crawley family was up to and how the changing of times closed the gap between the downstair's help and the privileged elite upstairs.

Admittedly, I am going to miss it, especially Mrs. Pattmore, who cooked and baked each week for a family she respected and they respected her.  I couldn't help but chuckle when an electric mixer was introduced and it reminded me of a similar occasion with my mother and a Cuisinart Food Processor! I still can hear my Mom saying, "that's not making bread in one of those contraptions!"  She came around, as Mrs. Pattmore did, and bought one herself after I showed her how easy it was to mix and knead dough in.

So, the last few days, I made Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies and this morning, Crumpets.  They're very simple to do and with the help of rings, you can pull these off too.
1 cup + 3 T milk
1/4 cup water
2 cups + 2 T King Arthur Bread Flour
1 T dried yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

Melted butter for greasing the rings

Heat the milk and water together in a small saucepan until just warm enough to put your finger in and hold it for a few seconds.

Place the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  When the liquid is the right temperature, pour it in the center and stir with a rubber spatula to make a smooth batter.  Don't overheat, stop as soon as it is smooth!  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes.
The batter will rise, forming bubbles and become sticky.

Melt about 3 Tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan.  Put a flat griddle or large heavy-based frying pan on the stove over medium heat.  Brush the rings with the melted butter.  When the butter is sizzling, spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of batter into each ring.
Turn down the heat to low and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until the crumpet tops are almost cooked, with just a hint of undercooked mixture.
Remove the crumpet rings and flip the crumpet over, using an off-set spatula.
Cook for 2 minutes more.  You can place them in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder batter.  Recipe made 10 crumpets.

You can serve straight away with butter and jam or whipped honey, but they can also be toasted.

As Isobel and Violet said...

Isobel (Wilton): "What else could we drink to? We're going forward into the future, not back into the past."
Dowager Countess: "If only we had the choice."

My choice would be for this series to never end, but then no one asked me.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Old Fashion Cherry Cobbler

Cobblers, Buckles, Grunts, Crisps, Slumps, Pandowdy's, and Brown Betty's are all variations of using seasonal fruit and adding a biscuit, dumpling or crumb topping.  My mother made these as a quick dessert, but we never felt like we were being cheated out of anything more elaborate!  These desserts are based on taste not fancy pastry preparation.

One of the differences between cobblers, slumps and grunts is that the latter two are cooked on the top of the stove with a dumping topping, but cobblers are baked.   I have fond memories of cobblers, so making a cherry cobbler yesterday came to mind.  These warm desserts, served with vanilla ice cream or when we didn't have any, fresh heavy cream, whipped up are definitely my favorite.

I used canned tart red cherries because fresh cherries are not quite in season here--although in the Pacific Northwest, I could get fresh cherries in early Spring.  And, just like my mom, I cooked my cobbler in my cast-iron skillet she gave me as a wedding present.  It was one of two presents she gave me as "essentials" in the kitchen; the other was a large wooden bowl for making bread.  Both of these gifts are precious to me and almost 48 years old, but used with love and cherished memories.

Cherry Cobbler
4 cans (14.5 oz) Tart Red Cherries in water, drained with 2 cups of liquid reserved
2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 T cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups Kind Arthur all-purpose flour
5 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups buttermilk
4 T unsalted butter, melted

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the top of the biscuits

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.

To make the filling--In a 4 cup glass measure, with 2 cups of cherry liquid in it, whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, spices and salt.  Transfer this mixture to a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.  Cook, whisking frequently until thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn off heat and add the cherries.

Meanwhile, make the Topping:  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir in buttermilk and melted butter and stir just until combined.  This is a "shaggy" dough.
I used a 1/4-cup scoop to measure my biscuits and place them on top of the cherry mixture. Leave spaces between the "biscuits" because they will rise and spread.
Sprinkle the biscuits with Turbinado Sugar.

Place cast-iron skillet on a baking sheet (in case of filling spills!) and place in the preheated oven.  Bake 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F-degrees and continue baking 10-15 minutes longer.  The biscuits will be brown and the filling is bubbly when done.
Let cool slightly, then spoon filling and two biscuits per person on a plate.  Add rich vanilla ice cream and you have a memorable dessert.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Barter Brownies and March's Give-Away Apron

I came across this recipe and it intrigued me.  First, I love brownies and will admit I usually have a box of Coco Krispies in my pantry!  I don't know where the name came from, but I can guarantee when my hubby says, "oh my gosh, these are the best brownies ever," and he's not really considered a chocolate lover like myself, then, they must be worth making.

Barter Brownies
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt

8 oz. milk (52% cocao) chocolate ( I mixed milk with some bittersweet chocolate)
1 1/2 cups Cocoa Krispies

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 9" x 13" half-sheet pan with a baking spray, then line with parchment paper.

Create a double boiler, using a glass bowl over a saucepan with about 1-inch of water in it. Add the bittersweet  chocolate and butter and melt over the water bath.

When melted, set aside.  In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the sugars together until they resemble "sand."  Add the chocolate/butter mixture and mix together.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together and add, all at once, to the batter.  Mix on low just until incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to cover.
Bake for 25-30 minutes--testing with a toothpick in the center.

Allow brownies to cool completely!

When the brownies are cool, make the topping.  Melt 8 ounces of milk chocolate over a double boiler.
Add the Coco Krispies to the melted chocolate and spread over the surface of the brownie.  Place pan in the refrigerator to set--about 30 minutes.  Slice into square bars or 1-inch x 3-inch bars to resemble a candy bar.
The topping and the cake-like brownie are just scrumptious.  We ate them plain, but you can take it one step further and go with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

The apron this month has a sentimental touch for me.  My Kelly always made a comment about my fetish for canning jams--"Mom, you don't live in Little House on the Prairie."  A reference to stocking up about 30 or more jars a summer of fruit jams.  When I saw this collection, called "Little House on the Prairie," I couldn't help but fall in love with the fabrics.  I think the two fabrics I chose have appropriately the right colors for Spring and an early Easter this month.
 Simply comment on any of my posts this month and you could be the recipient of this 135th apron I've made.  Good luck!