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Blackberry Scones


There are a lot of scone recipes out there.  I tend toward a more traditional cream scone, but I did not happen to have any cream in the house…so a little internet research turned up some alternatives, and a few seemed promising using evaporated milk.  After reading through them and finding some consistencies between them, I sort of made up my own recipe, fingers crossed that it would turn out.

Since it is the new year…and I’m sure you all have resolutions that you are trying to keep…many having to do with eating healthy, getting fit and watching your weight…here’s a little bonus!  Using evaporated milk makes these scones lower in fat.  You can substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream in many recipes, it provides the thickness and creaminess without the added fat.

Mini Blackberry Scones

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 can evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup fresh blackberries

Mix your dry ingredients together, then dump in the cold chunked butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter or two forks.

Before adding the evaporated milk, toss in the blackberries.  This helps them to stay whole and forces you to barely mix the batter once the liquid is added.

Pour in the evaporated milk and mix very gently.  It’s okay if the berries break up a bit.

Spoon into a scone pan (we scored this one years ago from our wedding – but they are not really necessary), or dump batter onto a greased cookie sheet and spread into an approximate circle or square.  Then using a pastry scraper or a knife, divide the dough into scone shapes (wedges, squares, triangles…whatever you fancy).

Bake in oven set at 400° F for 12-20 minutes depending on the size of your scone.

You are looking for tops that are golden brown.

Once they’ve come out of the oven and cooled just a bit, serve them up with honey, clotted cream, lemon curd or butter and of course, a cup of tea!

 

 

 

Orange Polenta Cake with Blackberries & Plums


Desserts in the summer should be delightful.  Fresh and vibrant.  I think you get a little more leeway with summer desserts…it can be an unexpected little something to try…so serious expectations.  So I say, run with it.  Try something new, be a little different and surprising!  Polenta cake fits the bill.  Think of this as somewhere in between corn bread and a citrus cake.

(Although I did not get the post up right on time, this cake was inspired by the Daring Cooks August Challenge…credit where credit is due!)

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Original recipe can be found here at from the Bon Appetit website and is also on epicurious!

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-fine polenta or organic cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-milk greek yogurt
3 plums, sliced with pits removed
½ pint blackberries

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.  (I used a mini bundt pan and a quarter size loaf pan which seemed to hold all the batter.)  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

I used Golden Pheasant Polenta and the texture was perfect – coarse enough to notice but not so much that it ruined the texture of the cake batter!

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread batter evenly in pan.Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes (my mini pans took less time…I started them with 35 minutes and tested every few minutes after).

In the meantime, prepare the plums and blackberries so they have enough time to macerate.

Halve the plums (I used 3) and remove the pit and then slice somewhat thinly.  Add in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.

Toss gently and let sit for at least an hour.

Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run knife around cake edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then invert again on rack (top side up). Cool completely. 

Cut cake crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with sugared plums and blackberries.

And for a little extra ummmpffff…top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

{Epilogue}

This cake was delicious the next morning, sliced, toasted and spread with just a bit of butter.  I may have eaten it for a week straight this way!

Enjoy!

Peach & Blackberry Crumble with Lavender!


I should eat more fruit.  I know this.  I am trying.  We’ve received many a peach in the last few weeks of our CSA box…and peaches happen to fit into that category of fruit that I know I should like…but they just don’t make my top five list.  Especially the whole fuzzy skin thing…I have a little trouble with fuzzy fruit.  So…what better way to prepare our multitude of peaches than to peel and make a crumble out of them.  Even I like fruit when you put crunchy goodness on top and bake it.

Peeling peaches is much like tomatoes…and highly satisfying.  With a paring knife, score the bottom of the peach.  Drop into boiling water for at least 30 seconds and probably no more than 2 minutes.  The time it takes depends entirely on how ripe the fruit is.  (for tomatoes…you should never need more than 45 seconds)  Pull them out with a slotted spoon and drop them immediately into ice water.  Once they’ve cooled, using a paring knife…and being extremely careful…grab the corner of the skin where you scored it and peel.

The skin should come off fairly easily…if not, let it sit in the ice water for a little longer…or dunk it back in the boiling water for another bit of time and then back into the ice water.

Despite not loving eating peaches…I think they’re a beautiful fruit and somewhat unexpected.

I wanted to make this a bit different from the standard fruit crumble, with a little something you can’t quite place…but still it adds just enough mystery to stick out in your memory.

Enter:  Lavender

Toss the peaches with sugar, brown sugar, a little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and flour.

Secret ingredient time…add the lavender.

I also had just enough blackberries to toss those into the mix as well.

For me simpler is better with desserts.  Did you know that the word dessert comes from the French verb desservir, which means to clear away.  So at the completion of a meal, the plates would be cleared away…and room would be made for small tastes of sweets, and so dessert was born.  Fun fact.

I would argue that the topping for any crumble is more almost more important than the fruit itself.  Based on my experience, it is difficult to get the right consistency for the topping, it can’t be soggy, or too floury, it shouldn’t be greasy, or too granular, it should have some substance, but combine well with the top layer of fruit.  I have finally found the secret.  Previously, I has always cut the flour/sugar mixture with butter or shortening.  Don’t be fooled, that is wrong…wrong wrong wrong.

I stumbled upon this fabulous blog while researching my topping options and I finally found the solution to my topping issues.  Instead of butter, add one egg well beaten and mix it in with your hands.  Then once it is sprinkled atop the fruit, melt some butter (you thought I’d leave it out…?) and spoon it over the top of the dish before putting it into the oven at 375° for 30-40 minutes.

For the topping: (courtesy of Orangette)
Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten well
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

It’s just as delicious at room temperature as it is warm and a coop of vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream would be a welcome addition.

Enjoy!

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