Rock Cakes

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, then you’ll know that biscuits and scones are some of my favorite things to bake. However, if you’ve paid attention to my personal techniques for making both of them, you’ll also know that it’s a process. Not a difficult one, but one that does involve a little more time, effort and tools than some may be able to spend.

No judgment; sometimes I’m the “some” that I’m talking about.

There’s nothing wrong with taking short cuts in the kitchen so long as the finished product still tastes good. Even though it’s still my preference to go with my tried and true way of doing things, there are times during the week when I don’t have time to ‘go the longer way’ in making biscuits or scones, and I too choose to ‘take a shortcut.’

The quickest shortcut for making biscuits that will still turn out tasting great are Drop Biscuits, where you make a biscuit dough, but rather than going to the trouble of rolling out the dough, you just scoop it out and plop it onto a pan and bake it off. The result is a biscuit that has a craggy outer texture, but (so long as you haven’t overworked the dough) is still tender on the inside. The scone counterpart to a Drop Biscuit, is the Rock Cake.

Don’t be thrown off by the name. Rock Cakes are far from the tough hockey pucks you may be imagining they taste like. In my opinion, the name likely comes from their appearance. Because the dough hasn’t been rolled, smoothed out, or given time to rest, it bakes with an uneven and craggy exterior. But that exterior is where the rough inconsistency ends.

If you break open a rock cake, you’ll find that the texture is much closer to a traditionally made scone than you might expect. It was close enough to where I was genuinely surprised at the result. They’re not as fluffy or light as normal scones, but they are tender enough to where you’re not disappointed that you took the shortcut in the first place to make them.

I had just bought a muffin top pan that I wanted to try out, and this seemed like the perfect recipe to break it in. I had really great results with it, but if you don’t have one that’s no problem. The cakes will probably just spread a little more on a regular sheet pan–and as a remedy to that, you can always place the batter/dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes to make a bit more stiff before baking.

These are really great smeared with butter and jam alongside a cup of your favorite morning beverage– or just by themselves at any time of day.

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Rock Cakes

Recipe Adapted from BBC Food

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (225 grams) self-raising flour
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (about 125 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut in to cubes*
  • 1 cup (150 grams) dried fruit (I used Trader Joe’s Orange Dried Cranberries)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. spray the cavities of a muffin top pan (Mine makes 12 at a time) with cooking spray, or line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and cut in the cubed butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. (You can cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork, a pastry blender, or as I always prefer, grate the butter in with a box grater). Mix in the dried fruit.

In a small clean bowl, beat the egg and milk or heavy cream together with the vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until the mixture just comes together as a thick, lumpy dough. Add a teaspoon more milk/heavy cream if you need it to make the mixture stick together.

Place heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. If you’re not using a muffin top pan, leave space between them as they will flatten and spread out to double their size during baking.* (As a way to lessen the spread, you can always place the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking to make it ‘stiffer’)

Sprinkle the tops with white sugar.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden-brown. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #380, cohosted 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.

English Scones with Creamy Orange Butter

Fresh, creamery butter. Is there anything more comforting?

I say there is.

Points to all of you who can name the movie that quote comes from. (Hint: It’s one of my favorite rom-coms and stars the very pleasant to look at Hugh Jackman.) But to the rest of you, I’ll just go ahead and re-emphasize my point: fresh creamery butter is great, but it’s made even better by what you can have it with, or what you can add to it.

I’ve always wanted to throw or at least take part in an Afternoon Tea get-together. I think it would be fun to gussy up and put out a whole Downton Abbey-style spread. I’m an absolute sucker for a tray or basket of baked goods so while I do like ginger and chamomile tea, for me the best part would definitely be getting to bake and enjoy all of the sweet/savory goodies that would be served alongside it.

There’s nothing like watching Great British Bake-off for getting into the afternoon tea ‘spirit,’ if there even is such a thing. I love baking in general, but every time I watch an episode of Bake Off, I just want to get going on whatever challenge it is that I’ve just seen the bakers take on. Sometimes they’re complex recipes, and sometimes they’re deceptively simple (i.e. so simple, they’re simple to mess up). One of those recipes would definitely have to be the scone and I thought it would be a good post to do today considering the subject– because you just can’t have a proper tea without scones.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you know that this is far from my first hack at making scones, but it is the first time I’d made a proper English one. For a while I wasn’t aware that there was much of a difference between English ones and the ones I’d been used to making. Turns out that they differ in a few ways: first, they’re usually not as sweet as most other scones. They’re more supposed to be the vessel for sweeter condiments like jam or preserves. They’re also made with beaten eggs, which results in a more fluffy crumb than most flaky scones that depend only on butter and baking powder for leavening.

The ingredients may be a bit different, but I still kept the method for making these almost identical to the method I use for making scones and biscuits–it’s just the way I get the best results. I did decide to give my proper English scones my own twist by first, adding a tad bit of vanilla to the dough, and second, adding orange zest and juice. Finally, because I did say that English scones are meant to be vessels for a flavored condiment, I also whipped up an easy condiment to pair with these: fresh creamery orange butter. Doesn’t it look delicious? And it couldn’t be easier to put together: butter, orange zest and orange marmalade. That’s it.

I’ve gotta say y’all, I think I’d actually be brave enough to serve a platter of these scones up to Mary and Paul–I mean, I’d definitely still be scared, but I’m pleased enough with these so that I could do it without having a panic attack. They’re just really good. The orange in both the scones and butter is what makes such a difference. The texture of the scones is light and fluffy while the orange gives them such a fresh, clean flavor. (If lemon or lime is more to your liking, you could definitely swap out for either one with equally great results). I was frustrated at first because these didn’t rise as high as I wanted them to, but by the time I got around to eating one slathered with the butter I didn’t care anymore. Turns out, delicious food makes it hard for me to stay in a rotten mood. Cheers.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #212, co-hosted this week by  Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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English Scones with Creamy Orange Butter

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Channel

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Ingredients

For Scones

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 80 grams unsalted butter, frozen
  • 80 grams white sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed

For Orange Butter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade or preserves
  • Zest of 1 orange

Directions

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

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

In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Pour in the milk and orange juice. Gently stir together with a fork until the dough forms a somewhat homogenous mass.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 425°F.

Turn out the dough onto the surface. 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 and pat & 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.

Using a 2-inch cutter dipped in flour, stamp out rounds and place them on the prepared trays. Try not to twist the cutter; just press down and then lift up and push out the dough. Re-roll any remaining dough and cut out more scones. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Bake the scones for about 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

For Orange Butter: Use a handheld mixer or the paddle attachment of a standing mixer to beat together all the ingredients until light and fluffy. Store in the refrigerator.