15 November 2009


You know, I've always had a problem with scones. They either end up too moist or too dry--I can never get them just right. Of course, I've tended to make them with fresh berries, so when they end up too dry, suddenly the berries get all squished and then they are way too wet. Oh the tragedy (mind you, they still taste great).

I was convinced, however, by abreadaday's Windsor Court Scone recipe to try the dried fruit approach. I even went all out and did the egg wash on top, and they turned out marvelously. Or rather, they were too dry (I used medium eggs instead of large, so that might be why), but instead of squishing my berries when I tried to get the liquid integrated without adding too much, I was able to adjust the amount of cream easily! It was fun and easy compared to my previous attempts at scones!

Maybe I'll try do the dried fruit approach more often, at least until I get a better handle on the Perfect Scone. (Note: After having these scones a few times [and devising a few rules for fresh fruits in this recipe], I decided not to ever look for a different recipe–so good!)

Windsor Court Scones
Adapted from the Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans
via ABreadADay
Makes 8 large wedges

–11 ounces (about 2½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
–5 teaspoons baking powder
–4 teaspoons sugar
–1/8 teaspoon salt
–6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, grated
–1/3 to 1/2 cup dried fruit or 3/4 to 1 cup fresh fruit **
–6 ounces (3/4 cup) heavy cream — if using medium eggs, up to 7 oz; if using fresh fruit decrease by 1/2 oz (1 tablespoon is about 1/2 oz)
–2 large eggs, lightly beaten (reserve 1-2 tablespoon(s) for egg wash)

–use reserved egg mixed with a dash of cream to make an egg wash
–additional sugar for sprinkling (a larger sugar granule, e.g., sanding sugar or pearl sugar, is best, but regular granulated sugar is fine too)

1. Preheat the oven to 450° F, and (optionally) line a baking sheet with parchment. (I used to grease the baking sheet, but this has proven unnecessary/counterproductive with my insulated sheet pan.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

3. Grate in the cold butter in three increments, tossing the grated butter with the dry mix inbetween.

4. Add the fruit to coat with flour.

5. Add the cream and eggs, and fold together quickly and gently until it just forms a dough; drizzle a little extra cream over any dry spots if needed.

6. Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet. Pat into a 1 inch thick round, and cut into 8 equal wedges. Carefully pull apart on the baking sheet and remove any extra bits that fall off the wedges.

7. Brush the tops with the egg wash, and sprinkle with additional sugar.

8. Bake the scones at 450° F for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Let cool briefly on baking sheet before serving, or removing to a rack to cool thoroughly.

** For fresh fruit, there are rather more rules than with dried. What I've learned is as follows:
--Delicate fruits (raspberries, blackberries, etc.) need to be frozen
--Non-delicate small fruits (blueberries, currants, etc.) can be substituted 1-for-1 with dried fruit
--Non-delicate larger fruits (cherries, rhubarb, strawberries, etc.) should be chopped and sprinkled with 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and you'll need the larger amount in the recipe (3/4 to 1 cup)

12 November 2009

old jam/jelly recipes

As long as I'm thinking of my ginger peach jam, there are a couple of old jam and jelly recipes, I'd like to share.

    Ginger Peach Jam

4 1/2 c. prepared fruit + ginger infusion (I did 3 1/2 c. peaches, 1 c. infusion)
6 c. sugar
1 box pectin

The best way that I've so far encountered to get delicious ginger infusion is by blending peeled ginger root with just enough added water to allow the blender to puree it. I've not measured how much ginger root I usually use, but on a guess, I'd say 1/2 pound. If you end up needing more ginger infusion, add the extra volume you need in boiling water and let it steep at least 10 minutes. Other than that, I'm a Sure-Jell (R) fan, so my one box pectin is almost always going to be one regular (not sugar-free) box of powdered Sure-Jell (R) pectin, and I just follow the generic directions for jamming.

    Ginger Jelly

3 1/2 c. ginger infusion
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
5 1/2 c. sugar
1 box pectin

This recipe isn't actually completely confirmed. The first (and only) time I made ginger jelly, I used 4 c. infusion, and it turned out a bit liquidy. I haven't had a chance to try the new recipe simply because I'm still working through my first batch, as I'm the only one that likes it on pb&j's (and I think it's simply amazing with almond butter, too). Oh, incidentally, I also used about half brown sugar, as I didn't realize that I had run so low on white and didn't want to run to the store.

Brandied Apricot Jam

Recently, I was searching for fruit to jam (I no longer had fresh fruit), so I entered the depths of my Grandmother's cold storage (aka, her freezer down in the cellar) and pulled out what looked to be mashed up peaches. I was excited, as earlier this year I learned the wonders of ginger peach jam, but as I got the mush thawed, I couldn't quite place the taste (apricots have, unfortunately, not been a mainstay in my family's fruit selection). However, I had someone at hand that placed it quite quickly: Apricots! And then I was on the search...which yielded a comment on the Simply Recipes page about Apricots! singing the praises of Brandied Apricot Jam as the absolute best the commenter had tasted in her life--good enough for me, I thought, I'm sold. So I followed the directions on my Sure-Jell (R) pectin for apricot jam, with unflavored brandy to taste:

5 cups prepared apricot (mine were quite mushed)
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh)
7/8 cup brandy (I added by the ounce until I was happy with the taste)
1 box pectin
7 cups sugar

While I may not put it as the best I've ever had, I think that's because I love almost all jams, jellies, etc. that I've ever tasted. The result, though, was very tasty. The unflavored brandy is subtle, but does lend a distinct difference to the taste of the apricot jam. I am curious as to whether the reviewer on Simply Recipes had the jam with unflavored brandy or, say, apricot brandy (that might be something to test next time), but I'm going to call this a success either way.