{sms} Toasted Oatmeal Maple Scones

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe was Orange Scented Scones. I didn’t have an orange so I made a toasted oatmeal maple version. I added whole oatmeal I toasted in the oven and instead of sugar I used maple syrup. I topped each scone with a maple glaze (powdered sugar + maple syrup). I love baking scones and this flavor combination is my favorite. If I had pecans, I would have added those too. Apparently I really need to go grocery shopping.

Thank you to Robin of Lady Craddock’s Bakery for selecting this week’s recipe. If you would like the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book.

{sms} strawberry shortcake, four-ways

This week I’m playing host for Sweet Melissa Sundays, the online group that is baking our way through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  I wanted to pick something that was seasonal and strawberries have been wonderfully sweet and delicious from the farmers’ market.  The minute I saw the Strawberry Shortcake, I knew it was THE ONE.

Los Angeles Times was also thinking the same way because they also profiled shortcakes in their food section this week: A Short Path to Shortcake Nirvana.

This is my very first time selecting a recipe for a group. And because of that I may have, possibly, gone a wee-bit overboard with my variations.

#1 Strawberry Shortcake, Original

Strawberry Shortcake


#2 Chocolate Chip-Espresso Variation

Chocolate Chip Espresso Shortcake

#3 Ginger-Lime Variation

Ginger-Lime Strawberry Shortcake

#4  Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

I sprinkled both, #1 and #2 with Essential Cane flavored sugars, raspberry and espresso flavors. I found them at sur la table. They are cool and come in a bunch of flavors, all with only two ingredients: sugar + natural flavor.

So which variation did I like the best? This is like asking a mother (I imagine) to pick her favorite child. I loved each of them for different reasons. The original version was great because it was the classic strawberry shortcake with a twist from the lemon zest. The chocolate chip-espresso variation was wonderful, because, come on, chocolate and espresso. YUM. The ginger-lime variation was outstanding because I love the spiciness ginger lends to sweets and the ginger/lime flavor combo is classic.  And last,  but definitely not least,  the ice cream. I’m an ice cream lover at heart. I can eat ice cream everyday. It’s my dessert. So yes, I loved the ice cream.

Go HERE to see all the other Sweet Melissa Sunday bakers and their shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcakes

From  The Sweet Melissa Baking Book: Recipes from the Beloved Bakery for Everyone’s Favorite Treats

FOR THE SHORTCAKES

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 tablespoon for glazing
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing

FOR THE STRAWBERRIES

  • 1 dry quart fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or more to your taste)

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

BEFORE YOU START

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

TO MAKE THE SHORTCAKES

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a course meal. Little by little, stir in heavy cream until the dough starts to hold together (you may use a bit more cream if need be).
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat together to form a rectangle 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches long that is about 1 inch thick. Cut the long side of the dough into thirds, and the width in half to form six 2 1/2-inch squares. Place the shortcakes 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

While the shortcakes are cooling, prepare the strawberries. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the sugar. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to macerate.

TO MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla on medium speed. In a slow steady stream, add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms medium-stiff peaks.

The whipped cream is best used when just made, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight and beaten again before serving.

TO COMPLETE THE SHORTCAKES

Fork split each shortcake in half horizontally. Place one half on each of six plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons of berries  on each with a large dollop of whipped cream. Spoon more berries on top. Place each of the remaining halves on top of the berries. Garnish with more cream and berries, if desired. Add a sprig of mint for garnish, if you’d like.

PRO TIP: When whipping cream, the colder the cream the better. If the bowl, the whisk or beaters, and the heavy cream are all well-chilled, you will achieve the most volume.

Prepare the strawberries and whipped cream no more than 30 minutes before serving. The shortcakes are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Variation

Omit lemon zest and use 2 teaspoons espresso powder and add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with espresso sugar.

Ginger Lime Variation

Omit lemon zest and use lime zest instead and add 1/2 of chopped crystallized ginger into dry ingredients. Optional: Top shortcakes with chopped crystallized ginger

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

My go-to base vanilla ice cream recipe is David Lebovitz’s Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream.  This recipe uses his base and strawberry shortcake mix-ins.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 shortcake
  • 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

While mixture is chilling, chop up shortcake into 1/2-inch pieces. Place shortcake pieces and strawberries on a dinner plate, separating pieces and forming a single layer. Scoop rounded teaspoons of whipped cream on to plate. Place plate in freezer to chill mix-ins.

When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you scoop churned ice cream into container, layer with mix-ins.

A Tale of Two Scones

On one side we have the Maple-Walnut Scones from Baked…New Frontiers in Baking. These are large, light and fluffy scones intensely flavored with maple.  The general tip to make a great scone is use super-cold butter, break up the butter into small (but not too small) bits, and don’t work the dough too much. These scones are also flavored with natural maple extract, which took me forever to find (found it at Surfas, naturally). This stuff is liquid gold. If you run into it, snatch it up.

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Maple-Walnut Scones

On the other side we have vegan Banana-Date Scones from Veganomicon. Oh, yes, an unfair competition. If butter is the secret to a a great scone, how can one made without butter compare? The vegan scones are made with a combination of all-purpose and whole-wheat pastry flour. They are sweetened with a little bit of brown rice syrup, a bunch of chopped up dates, and mushed bananas.  This really isn’t a side-by-side comparison because they are two completely different recipes and flavor combos. The only similarity is chopped up walnuts.

Vegan Banana-Date Scones

Vegan Banana-Date Scones

The results?

The Baked Maple-Walnut Scones are the scones of the gods. Everything about them was wonderful. The texture, the flavor, the butter. 😛

The vegan Banana-Date Scones tasted wonderful, but they weren’t scones. They had a more cake-like texture. They were moist and chewy, not scone-like at all. P actually liked them a lot. When he tasted one, the first thing he said was “these aren’t scones!”–he is not a big fan of scones–and proceeded to eat two more. We’ve been calling them sconecakes.

Sconecake--See the cakelike texture?

Sconecake--See the cakelike texture?

Banana-Date Sconecakes

Recipe from Veganomicon

Notes: I made these smaller than indicated in the recipe.  I used my 20 ice cream scoop and got 15. Because they were smaller, I baked them for less time. They were done ~30 minutes.

Ingredients

1 dates (8 oz.)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup rice milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly grease two medium-size baking dishes.
  2. FInely chop the dates, place in a small bowl, and sprinkle with 1 T. flour. Toss the dates to thoroughly coat with flour, breaking apart any clumps. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flaxseeds and rice milk. Whisk in the mashed banana, canola oil, and brown rice syrup. In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir into the banana mixture until the ingredients are just moistened; the dough will be thick yet sticky. Fold in the chopped dates and walnuts.
  4. Lightly oil a 1/2 cup measuring cup and scoop generous half-cupfuls of dough onto a baking sheet, leaving about three inches of space between scones. Gently pat down the tops of the scones and dab with rice milk if desired. Bake for 32-34 minutes, until browned and firm. Transfer from the baking sheets to a cooling rack to complete cooling.

Sour Lemon Scones

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I got Baked.

The cookbook, silly. 😛

I made the first recipe in the book, Sour Lemon Scones. I’ve determined that scones are my favorite goodies to bake. They are quick and easy. You don’t have to wait for butter to reach room temperature.  They don’t have to have a perfect shape. In fact, they look better rustic.

However, these scones were a bit fussy and not so quick. One of the ingredients is candied lemon peel. Even though this ingredient is optional, I decided to make it because it’s incorporated into the scone dough and not used as decoration. Making the lemon peel added some time and fussiness, but other than that these came together fine.

As for the taste? I didn’t think the lemon flavor was strong enough. I think if you are going to be called SOUR Lemon Scones, you really should have a strong lemon taste. The scone itself was wonderful. The texture was light and fluffy, not dense.  I will definitely make these again, but up the amount of lemon zest and  maybe add a bit of lemon juice.

You can find the recipe here.

You must make these scones.

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Glazed Maple-Pecan Oatmeal Scones <—– recipe located here. 😛

OMG. They are soooooo good. The recipe makes 8 regular sized scones. I made them yesterday and today they are all gone. There’s only two of us here. You do the math.

Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake blogged about them way back in November and I finally got around to baking them.

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