Scones/Biscuits Archive

Monday, March 15, 2010

irish soda bread scones

soda bread minis

Let’s just get this out of the way from the get-go — don’t let the title fool you. This here is American soda bread. It has raisins. It has caraway seeds. It has butter, eggs and even some sugar. It stales quickly, but not nearly as quickly as the authentic stuff (almost entirely comprised of flour, baking soda and buttermilk) would. Oh, and I made the “bread” into “tiny breads” and I liken them to scones. Look, when I blasphemize a recipe, I like to go all the way, okay?

mixing it up with a fork
gathering to knead the dough

So now that we got what they are not out of the way, let’s talk about what they are: a triumph! Okay, perhaps something less dramatic, but briefly in my kitchen on Sunday morning (before heading out to an afternoon in the apparent floodlands of Central Jersey), it sure felt like it. A month or so ago, I had spied a Irish soda bread scone at Whole Foods that was fairly run of the mill for a scone — dry and uninteresting; “soda bread” really in name only. And I got to remembering how much I like the crackly coarse crust and plush interior of a good Irish soda bread, not to mention that curiously addictive raisin-caraway combo and knew there had to be a way to make these the way I believed they ought to have been at home.

wee soda breads, scones

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

cream biscuits

cream biscuits

There are biscuits and there are biscuits. There are biscuits that you serve with chili, with barbecue or alongside some eggs and grits. And there are biscuits that you bring out in a warmed basket with a cloth napkin draped over them at a dinner party, to sop up a braise or slather with honey-butter. These biscuits are of the latter variety but I suspect they will quickly become your one and only biscuit because if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder where they’ve been your whole life.

sifting
cream into flour, salt, baking powder

Because they’re so easy, it might feel like you are cheating: Five ingredients. A sifter, a mixing bowl and a puddle of melted butter. (That’s so going to be my first album title, I’ve decided.) Three minutes to assemble and twelve minutes to bake. And they remain the richest, lightest biscuits I’ve ever had, with serious plushness within and the faintest crunch at the edges, which sound as you tear one open as if you’d broken a cookie in half but then turned the volume on that sound way down. Or, uh, a very faint crunch.

biscuit dough

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

jalapeño-cheddar scones

jalapeno cheddar scones

I wore heels to the hospital when I showed up for my induction four weeks ago. Heels. And a sundress. Oh, and my mother and I decided to walk there from the doctor’s office, since it was such a nice day (we only made it ten blocks, but still). Heels. Sundress. A stroll on a lovely September day. I say this not to point out how ridiculous I can be — because really, I believe it points itself out — but to outline this thing I do where I get an absurdly ambitious ideal in my head and spend the rest of my time trying to close the gap between the dream and my reality.

jalapenos
white cheddar

Hm, perhaps that didn’t make much sense. Let me put it in food terms. Before I had the baby, I attempted to spend some time baking and stashing, no, not practical things like meals to save us from an endless rotation of diner eggs and takeout pad thai, oh please no. I made things like treats to woo extra-awesome care from labor and delivery nurses and granola bars that our families in the waiting room might enjoy and some date cake we could all enjoy with some fresh baby and coffee the next day. Like I said, absurd. I also imagined that we’d have an influx of visitors in the weeks after we took Jacob home, and realizing I’d have no time to put out my usual spread, decided to ambitiously bake some things we could set out as needed … like banana bread. And lemon cake. And scones. Except I only got to the scones. At least I picked good ones.

mixing the scone dough

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

strawberry shortcakes

strawberry shortcake

Let me guess: It’s Sunday. If you’re lucky, you’ve got at least a whole extra day left of a summer-summoning holiday weekend and if you’re even luckier, and the weather is a little more barbecue, pot-luck or picnic-friendly than it is where I am in the mountains of North Carolina, and maybe, just maybe, you’re trying to figure out what you can bring that won’t take you any time to make.

egg yolk shortcake doughshortcake dough

Well, Smitten Kitchen is here for you! A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times’ ran an article on shortcakes, no not those little “foam discs” that you find next to the strawberries at the grocery store, but lightly sweetened cream biscuits — rich and buttery, coming to a crunch at the edges (often hastened by a sprinkling of coarse sugar), just the perfect cake to offset some lightly sweetened whipped cream and slightly macerated berries. Drooling yet? I was and the accompanying recipe was quickly moved to the top of the Cook This Now or Lose It Forever list. (Top Gun, anyone?)

shortcakebrushing shortcakes with creamsprinkled with sugarshortcakes, cooling

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

meyer lemon and fresh cranberry scones

meyer lemon fresh cranberry scones

The fresh cranberry gets no love. I can’t tell you how many recipes I have sifted through recently that boasted cranberry in their titles only to find out that they were actually calling for those shriveled and over-sweetened dried ones. Why must fresh cranberries be “the neglected stepchild of the season“? It is totally undeserved.

fresh cranberries

Fresh cranberries are prettier. They’re impressively hardy, keeping for weeks in the fridge and even longer in the freezer with no noticeable aging. And even though I think this is what puts people off, they have a tartness that makes everything they touch better. Because when you put something tart against something sweet, you get a fantastic contrast and this complexity, my friends, is a very good thing.

chopped cranberriesadding cream

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