Coffee Cookies

Although I’ve kicked the habit a few times in the past, I’m at a point in my life where coffee is an absolute necessity.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my morning coffee ritual is sacred to me. I legit get pissed when something gets in between me and that cup of Joe–not to mention a killer headache.

In the past, I’ve taken my coffee obsession into the kitchen and experimented with it as a baking ingredient, to really great results. After seeing that coffee could make for a really delicious cake and pan of blondies, I think it was rather inevitable that we’d eventually end up here.

A butter cookie is a great blank canvas recipe that allows for experimentation with flavors. When it’s a cookie press butter cookies it’s even better just because there’s so little labor involved in making them. After the dough is mixed, it’s literally as easy as pressing them out through the press onto a pan and baking them off within minutes. Because I was new to this, (and because I had always wanted to try this particular stencil on my cookie press), I took this route for my coffee cookies.

As you can see, this is a very simple, straightforward recipe to follow. The dough holds up very well to baking and still maintaining its shape/design. They’re not too sweet, which makes them ideal as snack alongside, what else? A cup of coffee.

One thing I will say is very important in making these, is making sure that the coffee you use to bake with is one that you would want to drink all on its own. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook/bake with it is a pretty good rule of thumb to follow in the kitchen in general, actually….but don’t ask me how I know.

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Coffee Cookies

Recipe Adapted from You Can Bake it Too

Ingredients

  • 250 grams butter, softened
  • ⅔ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite flavor of coffee*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar, until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.

With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Place dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are set and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely.

*Make sure the coffee you use is coffee you would want to drink. I first tried this with regular generic brand instant coffee, and the results weren’t what I wanted them to be. The cookie is going to taste like the coffee, so make sure the coffee tastes good to you.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #432.

Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

I’m dedicating today’s post to all the mothers in my life, in appreciation for all the work that they do. I truly believe that the mothering I’ve received (from my mom, as well as from many mother-figures) is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am who I am because of them.

I hope all of you who do celebrate this holiday can somehow do so with the mothers and mother figures in your life.

For all who do not celebrate it, I hope you’ll at least stick around a few minutes longer for the food.

I knew leading up to it that I wanted to make something special for today, something that put me in the mind of springtime, as Mother’s Day always does. When I think of Spring, I automatically think of citrus, and since lemon is a favorite flavor of several mothers in my life, that’s the direction I decided to go in here.

This cake is going into the You Can’t Mess This Up category, seeing as it’s a one-bowl recipe that requires zero creaming or heavy machinery outside of a spoon, a bowl and your own two hands. With lemon juice, lemon zest AND lemon extract, it’s just about as lemon-y as can be, but I also really appreciate the inclusion of two other ingredients that really make it something special: cornmeal and rosemary.

You might think that cornmeal would make a cake crumb too coarse and unappetizing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this one. It’s plenty moist, but the cornmeal gives the cake’s texture a unique ‘body’ and flavor that I think really works with the lemon. The herb is a no brainer; you can’t go wrong with lemon and rosemary.

I’ll be honest, I was just as excited to make this curd as I was to bake the cake; the cake may have been an excuse FOR me to make the curd, actually. The curd is sweet from the strawberries, and yet the lemon gives it that sharp, fresh acidity that hits that area in the back of your tongue just right; you know the one I’m talking about.

The idea of making/having a dessert that was essentially, strawberry lemonade ‘flavored’ was the impetus behind this whole thing, and I have to say I was SO pleased with the results. I think once you try it, you will be too.

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Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Recipe Adapted from Our State and Blossom to Stem

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2½ cups whole buttermilk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped

For Curd

  • 1 1/4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, fully dissolved in a few tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and sliced into 6 roughly even slices

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, buttermilk, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and rosemary. Stir just to moisten.

Spit the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cornmeal cake starts to brown and show cracks. (Cakes are done at an inner temp of 190°. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For Curd

Place the strawberries in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer the strawberries until they have some give when prodded with a silicone spatula. They don’t need to be very cooked berries, but you don’t want frozen centers either. It shouldn’t take any longer than about 5 minutes.


Add the strawberries to a blender. Then add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and blend until thoroughly pureed. Then crack each egg into the blender and blend until just incorporated (just a quick pulse is all you need for these).
Place the mixture back in the saucepan, add the cornstarch water.

Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a heat safe spatula, until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir gently. The mixture will be fairly runny, but don’t worry, it will thicken up in the refrigerator.

Pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl (ideally one with a pouring spout). Transfer to jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #431.

Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

I consider it a real shame that I’ve had and treasured my Dutch oven for literal years and never realized that there were more things I could do with it than just make stews and braises.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I started baking sourdough bread that I first tried out baking in my Dutch oven. To be frank, I was blown away by the results, and shocked that I had gone this long without having Dutch oven-style bread in my life.

So what’s the big deal with the Dutch Oven? In the first place, a big one (Mine is 6 quarts) is perfect for baking up huge loaves of bread at a time, which is great if you’re like us and you love the carbs.

Second, the heat distribution of a Dutch Oven is where it’s at because it allows you to get that thick, crackly artisan style crust that you normally only see in bread coming out of professional bakeries.

Third (my personal favorite), the Dutch Oven will keep the loaf from spreading out too wide and flat while baking so that you can get and keep that rounded height shape even after baking.

Mashed potato is really a magic ingredient for bread dough. It keeps it soft and moist for days, and if you use sweet potato, you get added flavor and color. This isn’t a sourdough bread, but I still used the same technique for mixing, rising and baking as I did with my go-to sourdough recipe, and got really great results out of it.

One last thing: I really don’t recommend baking this bread without having a thermometer on hand to doublecheck the inner temp. The sweet potato makes it very moist, and the golden outer crust can be misleading as to whether or not it’s actually cooked through. Better to be safe than sorry. Remember, baking is science: the numbers won’t lie or steer you wrong.

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Sweet Potato Dutch Oven Bread

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (1016 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (760 grams) lightly mashed baked sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (568 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)

Directions

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the warm water. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar on top of the yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the herbs and kosher salt and stir together with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast-water and the sweet potato.

Use the dough hook to stir until a smooth dough comes together. (I’ve had days where I needed to add more flour, I’ve had days where I needed to add more water. This is probably just going to depend upon the weather, the time of year, and the temperature of your kitchen.)

Grease the bowl, place the dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap, and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it’s covered in size, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (It’s somewhat like a tomato) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to bake, undisturbed for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #430.

Cardamom Butter Cookies

I think I’m about ready for Spring to come and stay.

I picked up a habit a few years ago of baking for the approach of a ‘season,’ meaning even if the weather isn’t necessarily matching what I want it to be at the time, I bake for it in anticipation of its arrival.

For instance, when I baked today’s recipe, the weather was nowhere near resembling Spring. But lo and behold, today as I type this post, it’s 73 degrees fahrenheit and sunny where I am. Pretty neat.

A cookie press can be a really cool gadget to keep in your baking toolkit so long as you have the right one and are using the right cookie recipe. In case you guys were curious, this is the one that I use, and after 3+ years, it’s never given me any issues (unlike some other brands. Also, they didn’t pay me to say that, I’m just spreading the word out of appreciation for the product).

So far as the right cookie recipe, you want to stick with standard, no frills or mix-in dough (sans-baking soda) that deliver a crisp butter cookie with a short crumb. Simplicity is your best friend best here.

Aren’t these pretty? The dough comes together in minutes, and the vanilla and cardamom work really well together to give the cookie a nice balance between sweet and spice. These are perfect alongside tea and coffee.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget to freeze your baking sheets before using the cookie press, it makes all the difference in achieving a neat and sharply designed cookie!

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Cardamom Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from TeaTime Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon zest at low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium, and beat until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.

Gradually add eggs, beating until well combined after each addition and scraping down sides as needed. Add vanilla paste, beating until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, and salt. With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Place chilled dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are set and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #429.

Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Like many kids her age (and no doubt many kids at heart), my niece loves sprinkles. She’ll eat them in pretty much anything. For myself, even when I was her age they never did much for me the foodie in me.

They don’t add much of anything to foods, flavor-wise. But I will admit that they do make them nicer to look at.

One thing I will say I’ve learned from doing a lot of baking for a kid with an affinity for sprinkles is that they’re not all created equal. Certain sprinkles work better for certain baked goodies than others.

The two predominant types of sprinkles are nonpareils (the microscopic little spheres) and jimmies (the narrow, oblong shapes). There’s also sanding sugar, dragees, pearl sugar and quins. As I said, these don’t all ‘work’ the same way. Some work better for baking than others. Some I wouldn’t recommend baking with at all.

For instance, nonpareils and sanding sugar are poor choices for mixing into dough or batter. They’re very tiny, and thus don’t distribute well. That tiny size also gives them a poor ‘bleeding ‘factor when they’re baked. I know from trial and error that it’s just not appealing. They are however good choices for sprinkling or pressing on top of frosting.

There’s a reason why jimmies are one of the more popular types of sprinkles. In the first place, they pop in color. Second, they don’t taste terrible in and of themselves (you’d be surprised how many sprinkles actually aren’t that tasty). Third, they ‘bleed’ well/effectively when baked. That ‘bleeding’ factor is important when it comes to picking out sprinkles, and it also matters in today’s recipe. I wouldn’t recommend using any other type of sprinkles but jimmies in this cookie dough. You’ll be mixing, then rolling and you need a sprinkle that can hold up under that kind of handling.

The cookie itself is simply flavored with vanilla and almond. It’s slightly crisp on the outside, with a tender crumb on the inside. My niece loved them. Plus, they’re pretty; just as a funfetti cookie should be.

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Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Southern Lady Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cups rainbow colored jimmy sprinkles, divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, use a standing or handheld mixer to cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and extracts and mix just until combined.

Add the flour in two batches, just until combined. Stir in the sprinkles.

Form the dough into a wide, flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut as many cookies as possible, rerolling scraps until all dough is used.

Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar.

Bake until edges are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #427.

Chicken Taco Salad

After the carb-heavy last few weeks we’ve had on the blog recipe-wise, I think it’s a good time to lighten things up around here.

(I do eat and enjoy eating green things, you guys.)

I spent/wasted a lot of time thinking that I hated chicken salad, because most times, it gets made with a mayonnaise based dressing. Mayonnaise triggers my gag reflex and I believe it’s one of the most disgusting foods ever invented, so for a while I just thought chicken salad wasn’t for me.

Then I discovered there were other ways of making chicken salad that had nothing to do with mayonnaise. From there, things have progressed very nicely (and tastily) with me and chicken salad. I set about testing different ways to make it with vinaigrette based dressings and the results have been pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.

Here’s my latest riff on chicken salad. The ingredients are all of the things I enjoy in a taco served up chicken-salad-style while the dressing is vinaigrette based. It’s inexpensive, pretty much fool-proof and also really very good.

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Taco Chicken Salad

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

For Salad

  • 2 rotisserie chickens, deboned (It should yield about 4-5 cups of shredded, and/or chopped chicken)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 3 bell peppers (I used green, red and orange), diced
  • 2 (4.5oz) cans of diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.25oz) can yellow corn
  • 1 bunch (about 2 oz) of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 2 oz) of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

For Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of oil (canola, vegetable, olive will all work; your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For dressing: combine all of the ingredients together in glass measuring cup and whisk together with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, green onions, bell peppers, chiles, corn, and herbs and stir well with a large spoon.

Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Serve salad on crusty, sturdy sandwich rolls, like these 🙂

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #425, co-hosted this week by Pauline @ Beautiful Voyager.

Vanilla Almond Scones

I’m a Vanilla kind of girl. When it comes to food, that’s pretty literal. Vanilla is my favorite ‘flavor’ for most desserts; cookies, ice cream, cake, and as indicated by today, scones.

I think that vanilla desserts are some of my favorite because they’re clean, simple and straight to the point. There’s less to hide behind so to speak in terms of the ingredients, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell if they’ve been done right or not.

Also, vanilla flavored desserts are great for adding little pick me ups like fruit, caramel or chocolate, while still not needing those things to still taste good. V is for Vanilla AND Versatile.

I actually made these at the same time as I did last week’s Chai Spice Scones. And as much as I really like the chai spice scones with all the added spices, I still gotta say: I liked these more. The combination of the vanilla and almond was simple, but they just really did it for me.

I think I end up saying this in the recipe itself every time I make scones (or biscuits), but it bears repeating just because it really will get you the best results: freeze your butter, let the dough rest overnight, and don’t forget to trim the ends. Following those three steps will get you excellent rise and texture on your scones, and when it comes to the ones that have simple flavors, those kinds of things really make a difference.

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Vanilla Almond Scones

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

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

Cut in the sour cream with a fork until it’s evenly distributed in large chunks.

In a small bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vanilla paste and almond extract.

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 400 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). Brush with additional heavy cream and sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar. Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

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

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #424, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Chai Spice Scones

Apologies for these extended hiatuses I keep taking in between posts, you all. Lately, I have been stretched in a lot of different directions, life is moving at a breakneck pace and sometimes I struggle to fit in the blog with the other things on the To Do List. Lately, even fitting in the time to cook is more of a production to choreograph and fit into the schedule than it’s ever been before for me.

I’ve had to be very strategic in not just timing when I cook, but what I cook, factoring in how much time whatever dish I make keeps me in the kitchen before getting back to the work that actually pays me. Lately, I’ve been choosing to cook/eat things that don’t take up much time, like brinner.

Brinner (or breakfast food, eaten for dinner) is one of my favorite options because of how I can meal prep for it beforehand. What’ll usually happen is that I make a big batch of biscuits or scones, then wrap them up to keep in the fridge, along with a batch of bacon and/or sausage I make at the same time. That way, when it comes time for me to eat throughout the, all I really have to make the day-of is some eggs to go along with it to round out the meal.

That’s pretty much how these babies came about. Besides that, it had been a while since I made some scones and I wanted to get back into that bag in a way I hadn’t tried before. If you’ve seen my method for making scones (and biscuits) up until this point, you’ll see there isn’t a whole lot of deviation for these, just a change in flavors.

These are simple to put together, and the flavors really are the star that make them a step above the average scone. Using heavy cream and letting the dough rest overnight is my tip for making them extra tender and ‘cakey’ on the inside. And as I can personally vouch for, they keep very well wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for days on end. Whenever you’re ready to eat one, simply slice half and toast for a few minutes; they’ll get a delicious crust on the outside, but stay soft and tender on the inside. Smear with butter and jam.

You’re welcome.

Chai Spice Scones

Recipe Adapted from Tea Time Magazine

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.

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 400 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 the cinnamon sugar. Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

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

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #423.

Rustic Sourdough Bread

When was the last time you accomplished something you’d really wanted to accomplish for a really long time?

I’m at a point in my life when I’m learning a lot about accomplishment. I’m doing, which is what I think most people associate accomplishment-but a huge chunk of it is also in what I learn. They’re both just as important, with the learning aspect sometimes edging out the doing.

One of the things I set out to accomplish at the start of this year was a task that had been on my Baking Bucket List for a while; upwards of a few years. I kept putting it off and putting it off. But because I’m in an Accomplishment Mode, I made up my mind a couple of months ago that I was finally going to learn how to bake sourdough bread for myself.

After two months of practice, determination, and errors, I’m pleased and proud to say, that I have.

The essential ingredient in sourdough bread is something called a sourdough starter. A starter is comprised of nothing but water and flour that’s allowed to ferment until it forms acids and gases that give the sourdough bread it’s signature tangy flavor.

When I was doing my research into sourdough baking, I heard starters being called “pets” a lot, and now that I have one of my own, I definitely understand why. They’re just as touchy and finicky as a pet, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to get it started (no pun intended). You have to ‘feed’ a starter daily, up to twice a day in the beginning. The types of flour you use matter to how strong/well it ferments. You also have to weigh out the ingredients to get the best results. It really is a science.

Because bakers get so involved with their starter in the preparation and maintenance, many give their starters names, just like you would give one to a pet. (Apparently it’s considered good luck, or something like that) I have to admit, I too joined in on this trend. My starter baby/pet/co-pilot is a He, and his name is Donatello.

No, not after the sculptor. After the turtle. (Those who know, know).

It took Donatello and I a while to get the hang of this starter/sourdough thing, but we finally have and what we made together was truly glorious.

If you take a look at the ingredients list, you’ll see that this recipe is definitely for beginners. In the first place, it uses a combination of sourdough starter and active dry yeast, which helps to ensure that the dough will still rise without needing the starter to be absolutely perfect. In the second place, there aren’t any other flavorings for the dough besides salt. Now it tastes delicious exactly as written, but in subsequent bakings I have also incorporated dry herbs and pepper into the dough, which just upped the taste factor even more.

Lastly, My recipe makes a LOT of bread. A LOT. This was on purpose, as I wanted a loaf that would pretty much fill my six quart Dutch Oven, and that’s exactly what this did. But If you prefer, you can definitely halve the recipe and still come out with a smaller, but just as delicious loaf of sourdough bread.

Here’s to the doing and the learning of Accomplishment….

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Rustic Sourdough Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (454 grams) ripe sourdough starter, stirred down (I used King Arthur’s recipe for sourdough starter, which can be found here.)
  • 1 1/2 cups (680 grams) lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 10 cups (1204 grams) all purpose flour

Directions

Sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the warm water, then sprinkle the sugar on top. Allow to sit about 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining dry ingredients together in the bowl of a large standing mixer and stir together with a large fork.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients and pour in the sourdough starter and yeast-water mixture.

Use the dough hook to stir until a smooth dough comes together. (I’ve had days where I needed to add more flour, I’ve had days where I needed to add more water. This is probably just going to depend upon the weather, the time of year, and the temperature of your kitchen.)

Grease the bowl, place the dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap, and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it’s covered in size, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape into a boule-like round. (It’s somewhat like a tomato) Flour a banneton bowl (or a regular bowl) and place the dough inside, seam side up. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and allow to proof for another 45 minutes-to an hour.

About halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 6 quart Dutch oven with the lid on inside the oven. (BE SURE THE HANDLE IS METAL AND NOT PLASTIC)

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid. (It’s going to be very hot; Don’t burn yourself.)

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When the dough is finished rising, Turn the parchment line sheet pan upside down and place on top of it. In one swift motion, turn the dough bowl upside down onto the parchment paper, and lift away the bowl.

Grip two sides of the parchment paper and use them to swiftly lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Use a bread lame, or a very sharp knife to slash at least two gashes into the surface of the bread, about 1-1 1/2 inches deep each. You can make a cross, or any other pattern you desire) Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the whole thing back inside the oven.

Allow to bake, undisturbed for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color of the dough. The bread should be risen and slightly golden brown on top. If it’s still pale, place the lid back on and allow to bake for another 10 minutes, then check it again. If it’s golden brown, remove the lid and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Use an internal thermometer to check the inner temp of the bread. It should be at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #421.

Sourdough Discard Crackers

A few weeks back, I mentioned that I had finally decided to tackle one of the things on my Baking Bucket List and learn how to bake sourdough bread.

As an update, the learning process is still ongoing, and I’ll have something in the way of results for you all pretty soon. But until then, I’m here with these.

An unfortunate part of working with sourdough starter is having to ‘discard’ the majority of it at every feeding. For those of us who hate waste, it can almost feel like a waste of ingredients, even if the ingredients are only flour and water.

That’s where sourdough discard recipes come in to save the day. I’ve learned in the past few months that discard can work as a leavener and a flavor enhancer in a number of other baking recipes. My first experiment with it was with biscuits, and I really loved the results. This time, I put it to use in crackers.

Thanks to Julia, who reminded me of this recipe that I’d had pinned for a while to try out once I actually took the plunge and began learning how to bake with sourdough. It was easy to put together, and I was really really pleased with the results.

Make sure you roll the crackers as thin as you can without tearing the dough so that they bake crisp and chewy. The white whole wheat flour pairs well here with the flavor of the sourdough starter, and the herbs give the crackers a fresh, artisan flavor. Also, the sea salt on top is a must.

More on my Sourdough Baking adventures still to come..

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Sourdough Discard Crackers

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, unfed/discard
  • 1 cup (113g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs ( I used a combination of basil and rosemary, but you can use whatever you have available/prefer)
  • oil, for brushing
  • coarse salt, (such as kosher or sea salt) for sprinkling on top

Directions

Combine the flour, sea salt and dried herbs together in a medium sized bowl and stir together with a fork.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with fork, until it resembles tiny pebbles.

Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the sourdough starter. Stir together until a smooth, not sticky dough forms. (If you need to add a few tablespoons of water here, that’s fine.)

Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, very lightly flour a piece of parchment, a rolling pin, and the top of the dough.

Place the dough onto the floured parchment and roll it about 1/16″ thick. It’ll have ragged, uneven edges; that’s OK. Just try to make it as even as possible.

Transfer the dough and parchment together onto a baking sheet. Lightly brush with oil and then sprinkle the salt over the top of the crackers.

Cut the dough into 1 1/4″ squares. I used a fluted pastry wheel, but a pizza wheel, a bench scraper or even a large knife in a pinch will work fine too.

Prick (dock) each cracker a couple of times with a fork.

Bake the crackers for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re starting to brown around the edges. Midway through, rotate the baking sheets both top to bottom and front to back; this will help the crackers brown evenly.

When fully browned, remove the crackers from the oven and place the pans on a rack to cool.

Roll and cut the second piece of dough following the directions above.

Store crackers, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #420, hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.