This weekend, I had originally planned to spend my time baking a few types of scones…a couple old friends and a new, and dare I say, Pink Peppermint original. Reality, however, slapped me upside the head and I ended up with one scone recipe completed and the new one was shelved for a weekend when I’m feeling better. Here’s a little teaser on the new recipe…it will be called “The Gilded Pig”. That’s all I’m giving you…no more, no less. Let your imaginations run wild and check back in the coming weeks. The Gilded Pig will be here soon and I’m pretty sure it will change the way we see scones forevermore!
While we’re on the topic of scones, I’d like to introduce you to another one of my “kitchen ladies”. Last week, you met Miss Kitty, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer. I would be lost without her. She’s sturdy, colorful, and has an incredible work ethic. But enough about Miss Kitty. She had this weekend off (kind of)…I did have to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies to give to a friend who helped us out, but to Miss Kitty, that kind of work doesn’t even make her break a sweat.
This weekend was all about June Cleaver…my food processor. You can mix scones by hand, you can use a stand mixer, or you can bring in the big guns.
I use June Cleaver because I think scones are much better when made with very cold butter. Unless you choose to mix your scones by hand (with the help of a pastry blender), you have to let the butter soften to room temperature. In my experience, you get a fluffier, lighter scone when the butter you use is chilled.
This week’s scone was the cinnamon chip with a cinnamon sugar dusting on top. The base is a basic buttermilk scone. I use buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk because I never get through a whole quart of buttermilk before it goes bad, the powder lasts much longer. Once June Cleaver has done her job, cinnamon chips (I used minis) are mixed into the dough by hand. The dough is then kneaded gently on a floured board and cut into your desired shape. I chose triangles that I cut freehand, but many scone bakers use biscuit cutters so that the scones are uniform in size. I also have a mini scone pan, but didn’t feel like washing one more dish, and the mini scone pan takes some time to wash because it has lots of hard to reach corners. My trusty knife worked just fine !
When I bake scones I’ve cut freehand, I use a cookie sheet and a Silpat mat (silicone baking mat). I do not know how I baked before I discovered Silpat. Nothing sticks to it…NOTHING. They are phenomenal. If you have never used it, stop reading this post and go out and get one NOW. Don’t laugh, don’t pretend I’m joking. Either get out of your chair and go buy one or look into it online (Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond sell them). It will change your baking.
Scones, to me, are rustic. I don’t cut them precisely. I like looking at a pile of scones of varying shapes and sizes. I like being able to choose a scone based on my level of hunger. I think one scone is always my limit, so when they vary in size, I let my stomach choose the size I need in that moment.
I also made some candy this weekend. My recipe for the candy came from Erin Bolger’s cookbook, The Happy Baker.
This weekend’s candy is called “It’s Not Me, It’s You Sea-Salted Caramels.”
These are DELICIOUS! Especially when you follow the recipe in Erin’s book. But…when you think you know the recipe and you’ve made it often enough to start playing with it, the results can be INSANE! Erin’s original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk…I dumped a whole 14 oz. can into the pan (mostly because I wasn’t paying attention). It made a very silky and rich caramel. I also added 1 tsp. of vanilla bean paste. As for the salt you use to top the caramels, it HAS to be fleur de sel. It can’t be normal sea salt, and you better not even try to use kosher or table salt. Fleur de sel, people. It’s an expensive ingredient, but one you use so sparingly that one jar of the stuff will last you forever. It is essential.
To end today, I just want to say a few words about ingredients. No matter what, seek out the best. When I cook, I seek out the freshest ingredients possible. I love to use fresh fruits and vegetables, and find real joy in seeking out high quality local ingredients. When I bake, I spend the extra money on ingredients like fleur de sel and high quality spices and extracts. These touches matter. They’re what make good food become great food. If you’re going to spend the time in the kitchen, use the good stuff. You’ll never be sorry.