Giant Blueberry Bun

Hi y’all. What a week.

On the plus side, America made the right decision in our presidential election. No matter what that toddler says or whines on about, it was a clear, fair and decisive election, and he lost. We’re going to have our first woman, and woman of color Vice President. Those are all reasons to celebrate.

On the other hand… there’s everything else that’s happened in the election’s wake. I’ve fluctuated a lot between immense relief and immense apprehension over the past week. Cooking and baking has helped.

Now seems like a good time to announce that I do intend to resume my annual 12 Days of Christmas baking series for 2020. In my hiatus last year, I skipped it. That was a huge mistake. The holidays just didn’t feel the same to me and I realized that baking is an integral part of my holiday experience. It truly lifts my spirits, and in a year like 2020 I think that we all should be doing everything we can to lift those as high as we can. I’ve already gotten a headstart and I’m really excited about this year’s recipes. So stay tuned for that to kick off towards the latter end of the month.

Today’s recipe I’ve actually had in my drafts folder for a long time. It was one I made before my hiatus and never got around to posting, which is a shame because it’s really VERY good. As you can see, fresh blueberries are baked right into the dough, then they burst creating those lovely pockets of fruity goodness. I usually will ice a bread like this, but it was honestly good enough for us without it. The brown sugar inside gets exposed from the swirls and creates a delicious, textural sugary topping that’s plenty sweet enough on it’s own.

I also think that it would also be great to cube up the leftovers, leave them to dry out overnight, then make this into an AMAZING bread pudding. Just a suggestion.

One last thing. Y’all, know that this has been the year from Hell for so many reasons and that it’s still not over yet. I know that the holidays are coming up and that large family gatherings are the norm. But please. Please.

Don’t do it. Only leave the house if you absolutely need to, and social distance. Wear a mask. Things are as bad with this pandemic as they’ve ever been in the US and if we don’t all act responsibly and like sensible human beings with compassion for someone other than ourselves, they’re only going to get much much worse. This is not false hysteria or fear-mongering; this is science. I’ll say it again and I’m going to keep saying it:

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.

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Giant Blueberry Bun

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

For Filling

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter which)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

 

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the butter with the milk over low heat until it reaches 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle yeast on top of the warm butter-milk mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until yeast is proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large regular bowl) combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Beat the egg in a small bowl.

Add the butter-milk mixture and the beaten egg to the dry ingredients and use the paddle attachment (or a large fork) to stir just until combined. Switch to the dough hook (or continue using the fork). Continue to add flour to the dough in 1 cup increments.

Continue to add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location).

Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour..

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan or baking dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Make sure the remaining 1/2 cup of butter is softened.

Sprinkle flour on your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Lightly punch down and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Roll out the dough to a rectangle, around roughly 10 inches wide and 12 or more inches long.

Use a small spatula to spread the softened butter across the rolled out dough, leaving a one inch border all around the edge. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top of the butter; it will form a thick layer. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of that.

Starting from the shortest end closes to you, carefully roll the dough into a log. If any filling falls out, just tuck it back in. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to gently pry it up. When done rolling, pinch the dough to seal it closed. Dip a very sharp knife in water and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers (kitchen shears will work for this too.)

Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Wrap the braid into a round, courounne shaped loaf.

 Carefully lift the loaf into the center of the greased cake pan.

Cover it with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until puffy and risen, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake on center rack of oven for 15 minutes. Loosely cover with foil, and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 1 hour more. (Check it early though, mine baked fast)

Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Linking up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #354, co-hosted this week by Liz@Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Sometimes I feel like I could be doing this whole ‘food blogger’ thing so much better than I am.

Looking back at where I’ve started, it goes without saying that I’ve stepped my game up on the photography end. Those first few posts were downright cringeworthy (And no, do not go back to look at them. I beg of you.)

But when it comes to the social media engagement part of this food blog gig…meh. I’m slacking off on that end, and I know it.

I only post new recipes once a week. That’s pretty sparse in comparison to the normal grind of food blogging. And even if it were the norm to post new recipes once a week, I still don’t do anything throughout the week in the meantime between time. I don’t do flashback posts on the FB page. I don’t ask questions, or post tips for cooking or baking. I don’t do that whole What I Ate/Am Eating for Lunch and/or Dinner thing (which I think is weird anyway, no offense to those of you who do participate)

I very much stay in my lane. I make my tiny little blog post on Fridays, I link it up to Fiesta Friday, then to a few other social media outlets (Pinterest, FB, Twitter & Instagram), and then I go about my business.

I wish I could promise y’all that I’m gonna “do better” and start posting more recipes, much more often. But that would feel slightly disingenuous. I’ve been doing the one-post-a-week routine for several years now and it’s one that works for me. Most of the time, it keeps me from feeling pressured or stressed about constantly putting out new content. The minute food blogging starts feeling stressful is the minute I’ll stop doing it. My posting schedule works for me; if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

There is one thing that I admit would be worth the effort for me to do more of on here. I want to be better about showing the actual process of the recipes, step by step. If you’re not experienced (especially with baking) sometimes written instructions fall a little short, even if they’re as detailed as I try to make mine. It’s not practical for me to keep my pricey shooting camera around while I have stuff out and messy in the kitchen ( as I definitely can’t afford to fix it should the worst happen). But I have recently been trying to make better use of my phone for those purposes.

If you guys check out my Instagram profile page, you’ll see where I’ve saved past Stories I’ve made into permanent Highlights. These Highlights are pretty much step by step instructions of particular recipes, DIY ingredients and special techniques that I use while baking. So far I’ve covered things like DIY Candied Ginger & Ginger Syrup, Perfect Pancakes and Roasted Garlic. Today’s recipe happens to be the subject of my latest Highlight. So if you’re interested in seeing the ‘play by play’, you should go ahead and check out the Highlight, then come right back here to read the recipe itself.

So far as the actual process goes, I’ll let the Highlight do most of the work, but I will say here that the heavy cream is what makes ALL the difference with these scones. The more that I make scones and biscuits, the more I’m starting to appreciate the differences between them, as sometimes I think the lines get blurred.  A good rule of thumb would be to use heavy cream for scones, and buttermilk for biscuits. The heavy cream produces a ‘cakier’ crumb, while the buttermilk will contribute more to a flaky, layered one.

 

These scones are my new favorite. Try them and you’ll understand why.

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Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from TeaTime Magazine

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • The zest of 1 large orange
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (plus more if needed) cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

 

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, orange zest and cranberries together in a bowl and stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center.  Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Sprinkle the tops with white sugar. Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake until scones are golden brown, 20-25 minutes.