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Onion Bialys (and English Muffin Variation)

Onion Bialys

 compressed platter of bialys yom kippur 2011

 

Special Equipment

  • 6- or 8-quart bowl, for rising dough
  • Wooden surface, for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Set of quarry tiles or large pizza stone
  • Dark shallow baking sheet, only if not using quarry tiles or a pizza stone
  • Cast iron pan or heavy baking sheet
  • Baker’s peel or flat cookie sheet, only if using quarry tiles or a pizza stone

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons melted butter, for greasing rising bowl
  • 1/3 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 rounded tablespoons solid shortening, melted
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • 2 teaspoons barley malt extract or sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Up to 6 cups high gluten bread flour, including flour for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Medium ground cornmeal, for dusting

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1 cup minced onions

1) To assemble sponge: Saute 1/3 cup minced onions in melted shortening until fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes. In the bowl to your electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment), combine 2 cups warm water, sauteed onions (with any shortening), optional pepper and barley malt or sugar.  Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar and add, when creamy, add to mixing bowl.  With the mixer on low, add 3 cups bread flour. When the flour absorbed, turn machine up to moderate and beat for 3 minutes, then scrape down sides of the bowl. If you do not have a mixer, use a wooden spoon. (Beat vigorously in one direction with the bowl of the spoon never leaving the bottom of the mixing bowl.) Cover bowl with plastic and allow sponge to rise for one hour and fifteen minutes.

2) To set up for completed dough: Brush a 6 quart mixing bowl with some melted butter and set aside.

3) To complete dough and rise twice: While sponge ferments, saute 1 cup minced onions in vegetable oil with poppy seeds for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are softened and fragrant. Allow to cool to warm.  When fermentation is completed, replace bowl with risen sponge onto your electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat in salt and 2 cups bread flour at low speed. When well combined, raise speed to moderate and continue to beat for 3 minutes to develop. Use a rubber spatula to help turn shaggy mass out onto a lightly floured wooden surface. Knead until smooth and very elastic. Add additional flour only if necessary, and always use your pastry scraper to keep dough from sticking to your hands or work surface. When sufficient texture is achieved, place dough into greased bowl. Brush surface of dough with more melted butter and cover bowl with buttered plastic wrap. Lay a clean kitchen towel over bowl and allow dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours. (Do what’s most convenient.)

4) To assemble topping, set up for shaping and baking bialys: Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add onions and poppy seeds. Saute onions until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind in some fresh pepper and set aside to cool. Position oven rack in the center of the oven . Place a cast iron pan or a heavy sheet pan on the rack below.  Place sheet of quarry tiles or a large pizza stone on rack above the skillet. (If you own a double oven, do the same to the remaining oven.). Sprinkle your baker’s peel with cornmeal. (Alternatively, if not using quarry tiles, brush the interior of 2 shallow dark steel baking sheets with vegetable oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.) Sprinkle two clean kitchen towels with cornmeal.

5) To shape bialys: Preheat oven to 500 F. Although this recipe yields twelve bialys, I suggest baking only six at one time to allow each one enough room to bake properly. If you have one oven, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide dough in half and replace one half to bowl and refrigerate. If working with a double oven,  dough in half then divide each half in half. Cut each quarter into three equal pieces for a total of 12 pieces.  Cover all the pieces while working with one at a time.  Shape each piece of dough into a flat round by rolling patting the dough out with your hand. Create a 1-inch rim by turning the rim round in towards the center to form a one inch raised border. Using your fingertips, pinch to seal. Using the tines of a fork, dock the center. As each bialy is shaped, carefully place onto prepared towels. Cover each shaped bialy with a kitchen towel.

6) To bake: After the last bialy is shaped,  begin with the first bialy shaped and dock (prick) the center.  Slightly flatten each risen bialy while gently widening the interior of the circle. (The flat middle portion should be quite visible.) Lift each bialy and place on prepared peel (6 bialys per peel or baking sheet). Spoon some of the onion-poppy seed filling into the center and continue until all are filled. (Make sure the onions are nicely coated with vegetable oil to help keep them from burning during baking.) Place 4 ice cubes into a 1-cup liquid measure and add enough water to meet the  1/4 cup mark. Place this next to the oven. Just before baking, pour the ice water into the preheated pan and shut the door. Lift the peel holding bialys and place it deep into the oven and, with one swift jerk, pull out peel, leaving the bialys on the hot tiles. (If not using tiles or a stone, simply place baking sheet(s) into the oven. Quickly shut the door to help trap steam. (If you have a double oven, repeat immediately with the remaining six bialys.)

8) Baking time: Bake bialys for 10 minutes. If planning to eat bialys right after cooling (without toasting), turn the oven off and leave bialys in a turned off oven for 5 minutes. If planning to cool, store and eventually toast bialys, remove from the oven after the initial, 10 minutes of baking (they might seem light and slightly underdone). Remove bialys to wire racks to cool thoroughly before storing.

Note: If planning to toast bialys (which is most traditional), the tops will become overly brittle in the toaster if the initial baking time is too long.

9) To serve and store: Before serving, use a serrated knife to slice each bialy and toast until golden and crisp. Top lavishly as desired and enjoy hot.

To turn your bialy dough into delicious English Muffins!

Assemble the dough as directed and, after completing its rise, deflate the dough. Rub an even layer of flour mixed with cornmeal onto your work surface and turn the dough out onto one end of that surface.  Rub some flour into your rolling pin and roll the dough out to an even thickness of 1 inch.

Using a floured 3-inch round cutter with a plain edge (not fluted), cut out as many rounds as possible and transfer each round to the other side of your prepared work surface (if the round ever sticks, run the blade of a pastry scraper underneath it). Cover the rounds as you continue to dip the cutter into flour and cut the remaining rounds. Gently knead your scraps, trying to make them cohesive, then roll them out the same way as before and cut out more rounds. You should be able to get eleven three-inch, 1-inch thick rounds. Cover the rounds with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.

(Alternatively, after the dough has its initial rise, deflate it and chill overnight, in the original bowl, well covered. The next morning, take the dough out of the fridge, then roll and cut the dough into rounds as described (cold) and let the rounds rise until billowy and close to room temperature (1 to 2 hours).

Heat a large cast iron skillet or fajitas pan (or a large nonstick skillet), over medium heat with enough clarified butter to create a thin, even layer across the bottom. When the fat is hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and lay the muffins in the pan, in a single layer, with 1 ½ inches in between them (you won’t be able to cook them all at one time unless you’re using two pans). Sear the muffins on the first side for 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Turn the muffins over and sear on the second side. Cover the pans (with a lid) or with a large, inverted stainless bowl) and reduce the heat to low. Steam the muffins for 5 minutes (8 to 10 minutes if they are at all chilled), then uncover and raise the heat to medium. Sear again on the bottoms, and then turn the muffins to make sure that both sides are crisp and golden brown. The exterior centers will be light and will feel soft but set. To serve: Using a fork, pierce the center of the circumference of the muffin, repetitively, going all around the soft center. Gently pull the top and bottom away from each other, exposing the interior. Toast the muffins (or, if freshly cooked, simply broil the muffin, inside facing toward heat source) until golden.

 

Comments (7)

Easy Cinnamon Buns

This recipe is so easy and produces tender cinnamon buns that are golden brown and so delicious! Although, in my show, Baking Made Easy, I say that this dough can be made the night before and chilled overnight, for best texture, I do suggest making the dough first thing in the morning. This is one of the few times I use a fast acting yeast –so the process of making and serving fresh-baked cinnamon buns first thing in the morning, really is doable. The night before, just have your fillings all measured out, your egg-wash made and chilled, as well as your powdered sugar sifted and ready for the glaze. Lining your baking sheets with parchment, the night before, also helps to make things go seamlessly in the morning.

Just to get you in the mood…

Ingredients for the Dough

  • Up to 3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 / 2 cup milk
  • 1 / 4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

For the Cinnamon-Raisin Filling

  • 1 / 4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup raisins (mix light and dark)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the Maple-Egg Glaze:

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

For the Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk, or as needed

 

To assemble the dough: In a large bowl, combine 2-1 / 2 cups flour, sugar, un-dissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, milk, and butter until very warm (120o to 130oF). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer (with the paddle attachment), scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the egg and 1 more cup of flour; beat 2 minutes at a moderately high speed. Using a wooden spoon, stir in just enough remaining flour to make the dough leave the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Cover with a towel and; let rest 15 minutes.

Assemble the fillings:  In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon with a whisk. Put raisins in another bowl.

Assemble the cinnamon buns and let them rise: Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions; roll each portion to approximately 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Brush each liberally with melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (use fingers to help coat dough evenly), then scatter the raisins on top (use half of each for each half of dough) Beginning at short end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal. With a sharp serrated knife, cut each roll into 7 pieces. Place, cut sides up, on prepared baking sheet(s). Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Or, for morning buns, cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel, and then again with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. In the morning, preheat the oven to between 350Fand 375F and allow the buns to sit out of refrigeration for 1 to 1 1/2 hours before glazing.

Glaze and bake: Mix the egg with the water and maple syrup. Strain into another bowl. Brush the buns with the glaze and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through (rotate the sheet front to back once during baking and, if becoming overly brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up). Remove from the oven and let buns sit on the sheet for 5 minutes.

Prepare the powdered sugar glaze: While the buns bake, assemble the powdered sugar glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and enough milk to make a glaze that’s thick but able to be drizzled luxuriously. Remove to a wire rack that sits over wax paper. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze. (Alternatively, you can spoon and then spread the glaze over the warm buns.)

 

Comments (11)

Panettone

I know, I know…this isn’t a quick recipe but it’s not hard if you get set up correctly and plan your timing accordingly. If you don’t have a large, heavy duty electric mixer, after stirring in the risen sponge and the candied fruit, knead the rest of the flour in by hand on a heavily floured work surface, using a pastry scraper as your aid. And, if the scraper ever gets coated in dough, rub some flour onto the sticky blade—which will help the scraper keep from sticking to the dough, while kneading. It’s important to bake the panettone fully—so that the center of the loaf is fully cooked. This is why I give such a wide temperature range (60 to 90 minutes!). And it’s also why this is the only bread recipe where I suggest using an instant thermometer (and baking until an internal temperature of 190F and 195F is reached)–especially since these loaves will become brown long before they are done baking. The toothsome texture of this panettone is hauntingly good and is particularly great when made with homemade candied citron (either alone or in combination with other homemade candied citrus. My favorite way to enjoy this wonderful loaf is sliced, toasted and served with cream cheese for breakfast!

Special equipment:

  • Large, heavy-duty electric mixer with one central paddle attachment
  • Microplane zester (only if using citrus zest)
  • Pastry scraper
  • 2 large paper panettone molds measuring 6 ¾ inches in diameter and 4 ½ inches in height)
  • Large shallow baking sheet
  • Instant thermometer

For the macerated raisins:

  • 1 1/2 cups raisins (mix light and dark)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark rum

Sponge:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored honey
  • 3 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups high-gluten bread flour

To complete the dough:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fine table salt
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract for the dough and ¼ teaspoon vanilla for the glaze
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • ½ cup reserved rum (after steeping and draining raisins), rewarmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon or orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange or lemon zest
  • 2/3 rounded cup minced candied citron (either use all citron or, if homemade isn’t available, use all homemade candied orange and lemon rind, as a last resort, use 1/3 cup store-bought citron and 1/3 cup minced candied lemon or orange rind)
  • ½ rounded cup sliced or chopped candied cherries
  • Up to 5 1/2 cups bread flour (not including flour for dusting when shaping)
  • Glaze: 1 egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, 2 tablespoons reserved rum and ¼ teaspoon vanilla

1) To steep (macerate) the raisins in rum: Place 1 ½ cups raisins into a small, nonreactive saucepan and add the rum. Heat the liquid until it just starts to bubble, then turn off the heat, stir the contents and allow the raisins to macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or longer). Drain and reserve the rum and raisins separately.

2) For the sponge: While the raisins steep, heat one cup milk with 2 tablespoons water and, when just warm to the touch, stir into a 2 ½ to 3 quart mixing bowl. Stir in the honey, and then sprinkle on the yeast. Let the yeast dissolve naturally for a few minutes. Once dissolved, add 2 cups bread flour and stir vigorously for 2 minutes, creating a mixture that is smooth and seemingly elastic—(stir briskly). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Drape a clean kitchen towel over the top of the bowl and let it rest in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour.

3) For the dough: Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter with the sugar and salt. Beat the eggs and yolks with 1 teaspoon vanilla in a measuring cup (with a spout) using a fork. When the butter is light, add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. While beating in the eggs, gently rewarm ½ cup of the reserved rum in a nonreactive saucepan. Add to the mixer bowl, the sour cream, warmed rum, citrus juice and zest and beat until combined (expect the mixture to look quite curdled at this point—this is fine). Turn the machine off and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Uncover the sponge and, after stirring it down, add the entire mixture to the mixer bowl. Turn the machine back on and combine well. Add 2 cups of bread flour and mix until smooth and glutinous. Add the drained raisins, the citron along with the candied cherries and beat again until incorporated. Add another cup of flour and beat it in well. Add one more cup of flour, this time in ½ cup increments, beating in each before adding the next. Beat again until well combined. Turn the machine off and scrape the dough from the paddle.

4) Finish the dough: Brush an 8 quart bowl with melted butter and set aside. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead the dough until smooth and somewhat elastic, adding only as much flour as you need. (You shouldn’t need more than 1 1/2 total after taking the bowl off the machine.) Use your scraper to remove the dough cleanly off the board, as you knead. (Expect the dough to always be quite moist.)

5) To rise the dough: Place the dough into the buttered bowl. Brush the top of the dough with melted butter and cover the bowl with well-greased plastic wrap and a clean towel. Place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until billowy and almost double in bulk, about 3 hours.

6) About a second rise: You have a timing choice. Although you can shape the dough now, for the best, lightest, texture and a more developed flavor, punch the dough down, turn the dough over in the bowl and recover the dough to let it rise again for about 2 hours. If timing is an issue, either skip this second rise or punch down the dough and shape the dough as directed but allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight (covered with a towel and then with a sheet of plastic wrap). The next morning, allow the dough to reach a billowy state, which can take several hours to accomplish.

7) To cut the dough: Place 2 nonstick paper panettone molds on a wire rack that fits inside a large shallow baking sheet. Uncover the dough and punch it down. Turn the dough out of the bowl and onto a very lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly and gently. Use a pastry scraper to divide the dough in half. Shape each half of the dough into a round and place the round into the paper mold (smoothest side up). In order to have the dough rise up and out of the paper molds, cut off a 1 generous inch off the top of the paper. The dough will be about 1 1/2 inches below the rim, initially. (Cutting the mold is not mandatory, just a choice and will determine how much of the baked panettone will be exposed.) Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap that’s been generously sprayed with vegetable spray, then place a clean kitchen towel over the plastic and allow the shaped loaves to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the dough is billowy and reaches ½ to 1 ½ inches above the top of the mold. (If you’ve skipped the second rise, for best texture, it’s especially important to allow the shaped dough to rise fully.)

8) To bake: Preheat the oven to 375F for 30 minutes before baking. Glaze the top of the risen dough with an egg wash made by mixing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon milk, 2 tablespoons reserved rum from soaking raisins and ¼ teaspoon vanilla—Strain this into another small bowl. (Depending on how long you’ve macerated the raisins, this will determine how much rum you will have reserved. If you don’t have enough, just add two more tablespoons rum to the glaze.) Bake the panettone in a preheated 375F oven until an internal temperature reaches between 190F and 195F when an instant thermometer is inserted deeply into the top center, 60 to 90 minutes. (After about 20 minutes, once golden, cover the loaves loosely with foil (shiny side up) and continue to bake this way. Bake uncovered for the last few minutes. Let cool completely on the wire rack. To slice, cut the loaf in half through the paper, then peel off the paper and place each half of the loaf (cut side down) on a cutting board. Cut into thin slices.

 

 

 

Comments (3)

Pumpkin-Currant Loaves or Muffins

If you love pumpkin, you’ll adore these loaves–and muffins! If you have any questions about any tools mentioned, please visit the Kitchen Management, for clarification.

Tools needed:

  • Whisk (regular)
  • Whisk (batter whisk) or use a wide blending fork
  • 10 to 12-inch skillet
  • Two loaf pans (preferably nonstick), only if making loaves
  • One 12-muffin tin and one 6-muffin tin (preferably nonstick)
  • Muffin liners

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • ½ cups dried currants, plumped in 1/2 cup very hot water or apple juice for 10 minutes and drained
  • 2/3 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (if making muffins, increase the seeds to 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, to sauté the pumpkin seeds (increase to 3 tablespoons if making muffins)
  • Kosher salt, to taste (optional)
  • 2 cups pure pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, for the batter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping (if making muffins, increase the sugar for the topping to ½ cup)
  • 2/3 cup (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cups Assorted Muffin Mix or see the end of this recipe
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus some for the topping, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated) for the batter, plus some for the topping, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch ground cloves

1) To set up the tins and preheat the oven: Spray the tops of a nonstick 12-muffin tin and a 6 cup tin with vegetable spray and line the cups with paper liners. If making loaves, brush two 8 x 4-inch nonstick loaf pans with vegetable spray. For muffins, preheat the oven to 400oF or for loaves, preheat to 375oF. Both are baked with the rack on the center shelf.

(If baking loaves, they can sit side by side in one oven but, if making muffins, and if not working with a double oven, each tin will need to bake successively. Regardless, the oven rack should be in the center position.) After plumping the currants, drain them and set them aside.

2) To sauté the pumpkin seeds and to make the topping: Sauté the correct amount of pumpkin seeds in the butter, stirring constantly, until very fragrant and deeply toasted, about 5 minutes. Drain the seeds on doubled paper towels and, if desired, sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Allow them to cool. Chop the toasted seeds into small but irregular pieces and, if making loaves, take two tablespoons of the seeds and place them into a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and, if desired, add a few shakes of cinnamon and a bit of ground nutmeg. Roll over the sugar-nut mixture to crush the nuts and to combine with the sugar and spices. (If making muffins mix ½ cup of the seeds with ½ cup of sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg, then roll over them to crush.)

3) To assemble the batter and make loaves or muffins: Whisk together the dry mix and the listed spices in a 5-quart mixing bowl and set aside. Using a whisk, combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, eggs, white and brown sugars, maple syrup and the vanilla and maple extract. When well mixed, add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, combine the mixture gently but thoroughly (check for dry pockets, using a rubber spatula). Using a large, sturdy rubber spatula, fold in the drained currants with the remaining ½ cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.

4) If making loaves, divide the batter between both pans and smooth the top with an off-set spatula. If making muffins, use a medium-size ice cream scoop or a large spoon to divide the batter between the cups, filling to the top, mounding slightly (use all of the batter). Sprinkle the tops of the loaves or muffins generously with the topping.

5) To bake loaves: Place the pans into the preheated oven, with 2 to 3 inches in between them, and immediately reduce the temperature to 350F. Bake the loaves for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the golden and a tester comes out clean.

6) To bake muffins: Working with one tin at a time, place the 12-muffin tin into the center of a preheated 400oF and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375oF and bake for 5 minutes. Insert a tester deep into the top center of a random muffin and, if it comes out clean, remove the tin from the oven. If there are still moist crumbs clinging to the tester, reduce the temperature to 325oF and bake 5 to 7 minutes more (when done, in addition to a tester coming out clean, the tops should be golden and crisp). Remove the tin from the oven and place it on a rack. Before placing the second tin into the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400F and wait 10 minutes.

7) To cool and unmold: When done, remove the muffins or loaves from the oven and place their pans on a wire rack for a few minutes, then use a knife to run down the sides of the loaf pans to help free them. For muffins, either carefully lift each one out of the tin and place on the rack or, if any muffins tops have merged during baking, use a knife to cut in between them. To unmold the loaves, place a piece of wax paper on top of each loaf and invert it onto another wire rack. Invert once more, so the loaf is right side up. Discard the paper.

8) To store cooled muffins or loaves: Wrap each loaf or each muffin in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Both will stay perfectly moist for several days and can be frozen, well wrapped, for 2 months.

If you don’t have the pre-assembled muffin mix:

Per each batch (of loaves or muffins) you’ll need: 3 1/2 cups bleached flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon all spice and a pinch of cloves. Combine these ingredients well, using a whisk, then follow the previous instructions.

Timing is Everything:

• If you’ve made your muffin mix ahead of time, you’re well ahead of the game!

Comments (1)

Leek, Bacon and Cheese Quiche, with a Border of Grape Tomatoes

Special Equipment:

  • 9 ½ or 10-inch pie pan (see Pie Pastry Video and recipe for equipment needed)
  • 12-inch skillet
  • Large shallow baking sheet
  • Large liquid measuring cup (4 cup capacity)
  • Nutmeg grater (optional)
  • Pastry brush (optional)

Ingredients:

  • One recipe Favorite Pie Pastry (savory) partially pre-baked and cooled (see video)
  • 12 ounces bacon, fried until crisp, drained and crumbled (or use slab bacon, sliced 1/3-inch thick and cut into cubes)
  • 1/2 stick butter or ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 generous cups Cleaned Leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (to water proof crust); optional
  • 1 generous cup (packed) cubed or shredded Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Either a few gratings of fresh nutmeg or a few shots of your favorite hot sauce
  • Grape tomatoes

1) To cook the leeks: After cooking the bacon, drain out the fat, but don’t wash the skillet. Melt the butter or heat the oil in the skillet used to cook the bacon, over medium heat. When the fat is hot and bubbling, add the leeks and cook them until softened, very fragrant and have picked up any remnants of bacon flavor from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper and remove leeks to a bowl, so they can cool.

2) To set up to assemble the quiche: Place a shallow baking sheet on the center shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Stir the egg yolk in a small cup with the Dijon mustard. * With a pastry brush, brush the interior of the partially baked (totally cooled) pie shell with some of the yolk to seal the crust (see note below.)

* This procedure is called “water-proofing” and is an optional step.) With sweet crusts for fruit tarts, etc., you would use an appropriate flavor of melted jelly or strained preserves.)

3) To assemble the quiche and bake: Pour the cream into a large measuring cup (with a spout) and stir in the beaten eggs. Add salt, black pepper and either a few gratings of fresh nutmeg or a few shots of your favorite hot sauce. Scatter cubed or shredded cheese on the bottom of the partially pre-baked deep dish pie crust, reserving a small handful, for the top. Scatter the cooked bacon on top of the cheese, and then place the sautéed leeks on top of the bacon. Pour the cream mixture over the filling ingredients and then scatter the reserved cheese over the top. Arrange the tomatoes decoratively around the inside border of the pan and then place the dish on the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake the quiche for 45 to 55 minutes or until the filling is set (but wiggles ever so slightly) and the top is turning golden (a short paring knife should come out clean, when inserted into the top center). Remove the quiche from the oven and let the quiche settle on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before slicing. This quiche may be made early in the day and reheated in a 350 degree oven. Serve hot or warm.

Watch the Video.

Comments (1)

Spiced Oven-Puffed Pancake

Mornings don’t get lovelier than this. A crisp oven-puffed pancake, filled with a mound of assorted fresh berries, all lightly dusted with powdered sugar. This recipe promises to please even the pickiest eater.

Anytime I’ve mentioned a cooking term or requested a culinary tool that’s unfamiliar, please go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 9-inch glass pie plate
  • Batter whisk
  • Sieve or sugar shaker to apply powdered sugar topping

For the pancake:

  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Blend for Quick Breads (see page 38 in The I Love to Cook Book), or see the end of this recipe
  • Suggested accompaniments: assorted berries and powdered sugar

1) To set up: Preheat the oven to 400oF with the rack on the center shelf.

2) To make the batter: Whisk the eggs with the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla. Pour the flour over the egg mixture and, using a batter whisk or a regular whisk, combine the ingredients until no large dry pockets remain. Then, give the batter a few more brisk stirs to make the mixture come together, but don’t overwork it (small lumps will still be visible).

3) To preheat the dish: SPlace the butter in a 9 1/2 inch glass pie plate or a 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet and place the pan in the preheated oven for 6 minutes, or until the butter is melted and bubbling and the pan is very hot.

4) To cook the pancake: Pull the rack toward you so the dish (or pan) is accessible. Working quickly, keeping the oven hot, whisk the spice blend into the hot butter. Shut the door and let this heat for 1 minute. Open the door and pour in the pancake batter (don’t worry if it seems uneven). Shut the door and bake the pancake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the sides are very high and golden and the center is irregularly puffed.

5) To serve: Remove from the oven and use a thin metal spatula to transfer the pancake (which will look like a giant empty pastry bowl), to a serving plate. Use a paper towel to dab off any excess melted butter in the center. Serve the pancake immediately, filled with mixed fresh berries, dusted lightly with powdered sugar.

If you don’t have the pre-assembled spice blend

Combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon allspice.

Timing is Everything:

To enjoy these pancakes first thing in the morning do this:

  • If you’ve made your spice blend ahead of time, you’re ahead of the game.
  • The night before: Measure and sift the flour. Leave the dish or pan on your work surface. Measure out the butter and keep it wrapped in the refrigerator. Assemble a bowl of assorted berries and keep chilled. Measure 1 teaspoon of the spice mix and leave this in a small covered bowl. Set the table for breakfast.
SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Special Equipment

  • 9-inch glass pie plate
  • Batter whisk
  • Sieve or sugar shaker to apply powdered sugar topping

For the pancake:

  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Blend for Quick Breads (see page 38 in The I Love to Cook Book), or see the end of this recipe
  • Suggested accompaniments: assorted berries and powdered sugar

Comments (1)

Fresh Fruit Parfaits

These parfaits are as beautiful for breakfast as they are refreshing, for dessert. The addition of a few ripe rounds of banana is very strategic, since their creaminess adds a surprising (and very soothing) contrast to the cold, juicy melon.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Fine-mesh sieve (only if pureeing raspberries)
  • Melon-baller (only if making balls of fruit)

For the parfaits:

  • 1 rounded cup (1/2 dry pint) blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries), plus 2 extra beautiful berries, per person, for garnish
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 cups of cut up melon, from 2 or 3 different types of ripe melon, including watermelon, if available (or make melon balls using a melon-baller )
  • 2 large, ripe, but firm bananas
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 8-ounce containers vanilla yogurt
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • Optional additions: Your favorite granola or some dry-toasted, sliced almonds

1. To make the berry puree: Place the berries into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a blender. Process the berries until thoroughly pureed. Place a generous tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam into a 1-quart saucepan. Position a fine-mesh sieve over the pot and pour the berry puree into the sieve. Using a sturdy rubber or a wooden spatula, rub the puree through the sieve, leaving the seeds behind (straining is not necessary if using strawberries). Bring the pureed mixture just to a simmer, over low heat, stirring to break up any coagulated jam. Remove this from the stove, pour it into a bowl and let it cool.

2. To prepare the bananas for the parfaits:When you’re almost ready to serve the parfaits, cut the banana into either rounds or dice or make balls of banana, using a melon-baller. (To do this, lay each peeled banana on a flat surface. Use a gentle but firm hand to scoop down into the banana flesh, making a full clockwise revolution with the scoop. Lift the scoop and, to help the banana ball pop out, knock the stem of the scooper over the rim of a bowl.) When you’ve measured at least 1 cup of cut banana pieces, toss them with the lemon juice, to prevent them from discoloring.

3. To assemble the parfaits:Gently fold together the banana and melon. Place 1 1/4 cups of the fruit into each parfait glass and ladle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt over the fruit. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the berry puree on top of the yogurt and allow the parfait to sit for a few minutes so the toppings can trickle down throughout the fruit. If desired, top each parfait with a tablespoon or so of your favorite granola or some sliced toasted almonds. Garnish each serving with two plump berries and a beautiful sprig of fresh mint.
Technique Reminder: To toast nuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place nuts on a shallow baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of nut and whether they’re whole, sliced, skinned or not). Use your nose as your guide. As soon as you smell that first savory waft of toasting nuts, they’re almost done. Nuts with skins toast quicker than blanched (skinless) ones and it’s best to shimmy the pan to occasionally distribute while they’re in the oven. (Over-toasting nuts with skins can leave them bitter-tasting.) Also, because nuts, when whole, are all shaped differently, they require a different amount of time in the oven, so only place one type of nut on a baking sheet, when toasting.

Timing is Everything:

  • The fruit puree can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • Although the bananas must be prepared close to assembling the parfaits, the melon can be cut one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
  • The parfaits can be assembled (without the granola or nuts) up to 2 hours ahead of serving. Cover them carefully (loosely) with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If using a topping, add it just before serving.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the parfaits:

  • 1 rounded cup (1/2 dry pint) blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries), plus 2 extra beautiful berries, per person, for garnish
  • 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 cups of cut up melon, from 2 or 3 different types of ripe melon, including watermelon, if available (or make melon balls using a melon-baller )
  • 2 large, ripe, but firm bananas
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 8-ounce containers vanilla yogurt
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • Optional additions: Your favorite granola or some dry-toasted sliced almonds

From the produce aisle:

  • Assorted berries (include more of either raspberries or strawberries to make the berry puree)
  • An assortment of melons (choose ones with different colored flesh)
  • Ripe bananas
  • Fresh mint

From the dairy case

  • Vanilla yogurt

From the supermarket shelf

  • Nuts (optional)
  • Granola (optional)

Comments (1)

Eggs, Lox and Onions

There are few better or more enticing morning scents, to help a person open their eyes with a smile, then the seductive aroma of sautéed onions. One reason might be because this particular scent is usually experienced later in the day (before dinner), at a time when many are tired and wanting. Maybe that’s one of the reasons, other than simply tasting great, why the level of comfort associated with cooked onions is so powerful, and always seem to provide such a hearty dose of satisfaction, at any time of the day.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the eggs:

  • 2 teaspoons flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 3 ounces (about 3 thin slices) smoked salmon (use belly lox or another very flavorful smoked salmon)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 generous tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, plus more for garnish (if unavailable, mince the deeper green part of a scallion)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) To cook the onions: Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook them, stirring frequently, until softened, very fragrant and the edges turn golden. Don’t let the onions turn brown, however, or they’ll be too sweet. Sprinkle the onions with a little salt and black pepper and scrape them into a small bowl. Stir 1 generous tablespoon minced chives into the onions.

2) To assemble the dish: Just before cooking the eggs, sear the salmon. Stack the slices of smoked salmon and roll them up, lengthwise. Slice the roll into 1/2-inch slices, then add the salmon to the bowl of hot onions. Place the same skillet back on the stove and melt the butter over medium-high heat. When hot and bubbling, add the beaten eggs and turn the heat to medium. Let the eggs cook undisturbed just until they start to set on the bottom, about 1 minute. Give the eggs a good turn with a wooden spoon or a heatproof rubber spatula, then fold in the salmon and onions. Cook the eggs until they’re done to your liking, folding occasionally. Try not to overstir, as the eggs cook, as this breaks them down into small curds. The eggs should remain in fluffy clumps, laced with chive-flecked onions and pieces of smoked salmon.

3) To serve: Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper to taste, then scrape them onto an individual serving plate. Sprinkle the top with additional minced chives and serve immediately, with your choice of hot toast.

Timing is Everything:

For eggs, lox and onions on busy weekday mornings, do this

The night before: Slice the onions and the salmon and keep them refrigerated, separately, well covered. Cut the chives and put them in a small covered bowl or a small plastic bag. Beat your eggs in a bowl with 1 teaspoon water and chill this, covered. Leave your skillet on the stove, on a turned-off burner. Set the table for breakfast.

The next morning: Follow the simple recipe instructions, and enjoy.



SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the eggs:

  • 2 teaspoons flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 3 ounces (about 3 thin slices) smoked salmon (use belly lox or another very flavorful smoked salmon)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 generous tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, plus more for garnish (if unavailable, mince the deeper green part of a scallion)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Comments (0)

Buttermilk Pancakes with Berries

If you like pancakes, you’ll adore these. Tender and truly ethereal, I can’t count how many times I’ve made them and each time I hear the same words from those at the table: “These are the best pancakes I’ve ever had.” And feel free to use this same size batter to make three crisp standard-size waffles, using a half cup of batter for each. This could vary, though, depending on your particular appliance.

I’ve written this recipe requiring the use of buttermilk, since, hands-down, buttermilk makes the best-tasting pancakes with the lightest, most tender texture. If you don’t always have liquid buttermilk in the house, I suggest keeping a supply of dry buttermilk in your pantry, so you can just reconstitute it. This recipe doubles perfectly.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Triple-mesh wire sieve
  • Batter whisk or a wide blending fork
  • Electric griddle (optional but helpful for maintaining correct temperature for cooking pancakes)

For the pancakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk Pancake Mix, or see the end of this recipe
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled to just warm
  • 1/2 rounded cup plump ripe blueberries (optional)

1. To assemble the batter: Place 1 1/2 cups of the prepared pancake mix into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, water and melted butter. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the pancake mix, using a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, until thoroughly mixed, being careful not to overwork the batter. 2. To cook your pancakes:heat a nonstick griddle or a large nonstick skillet and, when hot, brush the surface lightly with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, pour or ladle several 1/4 cup portions of batter onto the hot surface, leaving 1-inch of space between them and, if desired, scatter several of fresh blueberries on top and cook over medium-high heat, until bubbles appear on the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a thin wide spatula, flip each pancake over and cook on the other side, until golden, about 1 minute. Remove the pancakes to a warmed platter and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve pancakes immediately after the cooking, in individual stacks, with softened butter and warmed pure maple syrup.

If you don’t have the pre-assembled pancake mix:

Per each batch of pancakes, whisk together 1 1/2 cups plain cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/3 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar. Sift this into another bowl and continue with the recipe above.

Timing is Everything: For pancakes on busy weekday mornings, do this:

The night before: Combine all of the wet ingredients except the melted butter and refrigerate the mixture, well covered. Measure your dry mix and place it in a covered bowl on your counter. Put your griddle on a turned off burner and put a small covered bowl containing a little vegetable oil next to the stove, with a pastry brush.

In the morning: Remove the wet ingredients from the refrigerator. Melt the butter and, when just warm, add it to the buttermilk mixture. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, using a batter whisk (be gentle, but no dry pockets should remain). Leave the bowl of batter covered, at room temperature, until you’re ready to cook. When ready, ladle the batter onto a hot, greased griddle, as directed.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix :

  • 14 cups plain (not self-rising) cake flour
  • 6 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

For a single batch of pancakes (can be doubled):

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled to just warm
  • 1/2 rounded cup plump ripe blueberries (optional)
  • Maple syrup or powdered sugar, as an accompaniment
  • Assorted fresh berries (optional)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Plain, unleavened cake flour (If making the mix, you’ll need two boxes.)
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Fine table salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar (only if not using maple syrup)
  • Flavorless vegetable oil
  • Maple syrup (optional)

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case :

  • Buttermilk
  • Unsalted butter

From the produce aisle :

  • Assorted ripe berries (optional)

Comments (3)

Blueberry Muffin Recipe: These Muffins are Loaded with Blueberries!

These muffins are extremely light, tender and not too sweet! And when baked within insulating paper liners and wrapped individually in pliable plastic wrap, they stay soft and tender for days after baking. To enjoy these blueberry muffins throughout the year, flash-freeze fresh blueberries at the end of July and beginning of August when they are most abundant and voluptuous–some are so large, they resemble grapes! And because there’s nothing like the taste of a freshly baked blueberry muffin first thing in the morning, follow my Timing Tips and provide yourself and family with a delectable (and aromatic) way to start your day! Oh, and if using frozen blueberries, don’t thaw them first. You will need to bake the muffins a bit longer to account for the colder temperature of the batter when entering the oven.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 12-cup standard-sized muffin tin, preferably nonstick
  • Paper muffin liners (optional)
  • Nutmeg grater (optional)
  • Batter whisk or wide blending fork

For the muffin batter:

  • Melted butter or nonstick vegetable spray, for muffin tin (use vegetable spray if setting your tin up the night before baking)
  • 3 ½ cups bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1 1/4 cups cultured buttermilk
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups plump fresh blueberries or unthawed frozen berries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar or vanilla sugar, for topping

1) To set up: Preheat the oven to 400o F. If not using paper liners, brush with melted butter or spray the interior of a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin. Even if using paper liners butter or spray the tops of the tin, in between each muffin cup.

2) To assemble batter: Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly using a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil, brown and white sugars and vanilla. Mix well, making sure that there are no lumps of brown sugar). Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, combine the mixture gently but thoroughly. Gently, fold in the blueberries using a rubber spatula and take care not to overwork the batter or rupture the berries.

3) To bake: Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup and mounding the top (using all of it). Sprinkle tops generously with some granulated sugar. Place the tin into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325F and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center and the tops are golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Cut in between each muffin (where the edges merged during baking), carefully lift out the muffins and stand them on a rack to cool. Allow muffins to settle for 10 minutes before enjoying warm.

4) To store: Muffins to be served on the day of baking should be placed on a tray and, once cool, covered with aluminum foil. Those to be stored for the next day should be wrapped individually in pliable plastic. Either way, they should be stored at room temperature.

Freshly Baked Muffins for Breakfast

The night before, combine all of the wet ingredients, cover well and refrigerate. Whisk together all dry ingredients and leave at room temperature. Line tins with paper liners and spray tops of tins.

In the morning, preheat oven, re-mix the wet ingredients and then gently combine this with the dry ingredients and then fold in berries. Fill tin, pop into the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the muffin batter :

Ingredients

  • Melted butter or nonstick vegetable spray, for muffin tin (use vegetable spray if setting your tin up the night before baking)
  • 3 ½ cups bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1 1/4 cups cultured buttermilk
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups plump fresh blueberries or unthawed frozen berries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar or vanilla sugar, for topping

From the refrigerated section

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case

  • Buttermilk
  • Butter (if not using vegetable spray to spray the tops of the tin)

From the produce aisle

  • 1 dry pint, plus ½ pint fresh blueberries

From the supermarket shelf

  • Vegetable spray
  • Paper muffin liners
  • Bleached, all-purpose flour
  • Double-acting baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt
  • Light brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Flavorless vegetable oil

From the spice section

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg (preferably whole, to be ground by you)

From the frozen food section

  • Frozen blueberries (only if fresh is unavailable), you’ll use these straight from the freezer. Secure the bag shut and store any unused berries in the freezer.

Watch the Video.

Comments (4)

Orange-Scented Currant Scones

As far as my family and friends are concerned, this recipe produces scones that are unsurpassed. The biscuit mix has been specifically designed to make scones that are lighter than most with a very tender, slightly cake-like crumb. If you use my timing strategy at the end of this recipe, you’ll see that making scones is truly a snap!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the pre-baking glaze:

  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the scones:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest (the colored part only)
  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 rounded cup dried (but supple) currants
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • Powdered sugar for dusting or for making a post-baking glaze, optional

1. To set-up: Prepare the glaze: Using a fork, combine the egg, cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour this through a medium-mesh sieve into another bowl and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a flat (not cushioned) cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. To assemble the scones: Combine the cream, orange juice, egg, vanilla and zest in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Whirl the biscuit mix and sugar in the work-bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, to combine well. Add the currants and pulse to distribute evenly. Drop the cold diced butter into the work-bowl and use the pulsing button to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal.

Uncover the bowl and pour in most of the liquid ingredients (reserving only about 2 tablespoons) and, after attaching the cover, pulse just until the batter seems cohesive (don’t overwork it). If the mixture seems at all dry, add the remaining liquid and pulse it in. (Scone dough should be moist, but not overly wet. If your dough is uncomfortably wet, just use a bit more flour on your hands and work surface.)

Turn the mass of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with lightly floured hands, knead the dough gently, about 8 or 9 times. Use a scraper, when necessary, to help lift the dough off the work surface, if wet in certain areas.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick round and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges. Wipe off the knife, after each cut, and sprinkle the blade with some flour. Repeat this cutting procedure, going into the original lines and, when the blade reaches the bottom, rock the blade (by its handle) back and forth to widen the space in between each wedge. Do this several times, if necessary, until there’s between 1/8 and 1/4-inch between the wide part of each wedge. Of course, this space will be much narrower at the center.

Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour on the dough, then brush the tops with the prepared glaze. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 20 minutes.

Then remove the sheet from the oven and, using a clean, sharp chef’s knife, cut in between each wedge, wiping off the blade after each cut. If necessary, go over your cuts until sure that all the wedges are completely separate. One by one, place a narrow metal spatula underneath each wedge and pull it away from the rest, giving them all total exposure to heat.

Place the sheet back into the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool the wedges completely, on a rack.

3. To garnish and store scones: Before serving, if desired, give the tops of the scones a light dusting of powdered sugar. Or, to make a glaze, place 2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of water—just enough to make a very thick mixture that falls back on itself in a ribbon, when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. If too thin, add more sugar and if too thick, add a few droplets more of water. Using the whisk, drizzle the glaze whimsically over the tops of the fully cooled scones. Allow the glaze to set for 1 to 3 hours, uncovered. After that, when no longer sticky, the scones can be individually wrapped. Store scones at room temperature, in an airtight container or individually wrapped with plastic wrap.

4. If you don’t have the pre-assembled Baking Powder Biscuit Mix:

For each batch of scones:

  • Mix 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk well and follow the rest of the recipe

5. Timing is Everything

For fresh-baked scones first thing in the morning:

The night before: Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the biscuit mix and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and leave it there, with the lid on. Place the currants in a bowl, on the counter. Cut the butter into dice and leave it in the refrigerator, covered. Mix the cream, orange juice, zest, egg and the vanilla together and leave it in the refrigerator, covered. Assemble your egg glaze and refrigerate it, covered. Place a few tablespoons of sugar in a little bowl, for sprinkling, and leave it on your counter.

In the morning: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the butter into the dry mixture, mix in the currants, add the wet ingredients, and follow the remaining instructions.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix:

  • 14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
For the pre-baking glaze:
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the scones:
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest (the colored part only)
  • 2 cups prepared homemade Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see ingredients list above)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 rounded cup dried (but supple) currants
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • Powdered sugar for dusting or for making a post-baking glaze, optional

From the supermarket shelf:

  • 1 10-pound bag, plus 1 5-pound bag unbleached, all purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine table salt
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dried currants
  • Powdered sugar

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs
  • Orange juice (only if not using frozen orange juice concentrate)

From the frozen food section:

  • Frozen orange juice concentrate (I prefer this to using orange juice)

From the dairy case:

  • Heavy cream
  • Unsalted butter

From the produce section:

  • Navel orange

Comments (7)

Baking Powder Biscuits

Unlike yeast dough, which requires tough and persistent kneading by the cook, hands that touch biscuit dough have to be much gentler. For the tenderest biscuits, each kneading movement must be lighthearted and superficial, with the goal of just making the dough cohesive enough to be rolled (or patted) out. Homemade biscuits are usually a bit irregularly shaped after baking. Resist the temptation to work the dough aggressively, in the hopes of making the dough smooth. Most people would take a lopsided biscuit over a tough one any day. Whether sitting next to a mound of hot scrambled eggs at breakfast, or sharing the spotlight with a succulent roast chicken at dinner, these biscuits quickly become a family tradition, and one that always instills a wonderful sense of comfort and warmth.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • About 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • Additional all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, to glaze biscuits
  • Softened butter and/or jam, for serving

1. To set up: Line a thin, flat cookie sheet with ungreased parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. To assemble the dough: Place the biscuit mix into either a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the cubed butter and, if not using a machine, cut the butter into the dry mix, using a hand-held pastry cutter or your fingertips. If using a food processor, pulse the diced butter with the dry mix. Either way, blend until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the heavy cream into the bowl of dry ingredients.

If working with a food processor: add the cream to the work bowl and give it several quick pulses, just until the dry mix is thoroughly moistened and able to be turned out and handled.

If making biscuits by hand: Use a wide blending fork to, gently but thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients without overworking the mixture. As some of the flour becomes moistened by the cream, push that section of the dough to one side of the bowl and continue, until the dough resembles a moist, shapeless mass. (If dough seems too dry, add the remaining tablespoon or so of cream.)

3. To cut biscuits: Turn the mass out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very gently, about 8 or 9 times, until it holds together (see the introduction of this recipe for more information.) Using a wooden rolling pin or a lightly floured hand, roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible, using a “straight down, up and out” motion. Lay the rounds on the prepared baking sheet and gather the scraps so you can gently knead them just to smooth the surface. Pat or roll the dough out again and cut out more rounds.

4. To bake: Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and place the sheet into the center of the preheated oven until they have risen high and turn light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot, with softened butter and/or jam.

5. If you don’t have the pre-assembled Baking Powder Biscuit Mix:

For each batch of biscuits:

  • Mix 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk well and follow the rest of the recipe

Timing is Everything The unbaked biscuits can be prepared 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, covered well with plastic wrap. For best texture, bring the chilled dough close to room temperature before brushing with butter and baking.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix:

  • 14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • About 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • Additional all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, to glaze biscuits
  • Softened butter and/or jam, for serving

From the supermarket shelf:

  • 1 10-pound bag, plus 1 5-pound bag unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine table salt
  • Baking powder
  • Jam (for serving)

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Heavy cream

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Homemade “Instant” Hot Cocoa Mix

Have you ever met a kid who didn’t welcome a hefty mug of rich hot cocoa on a chilly morning or after a day in the snow? For those of you that wonder what “real” difference it makes to use a homemade mix instead of a store-bought one, I urge you to try this recipe.

When you choose to use a bit of down time to make this dry concoction, in bulk, the benefits are not just limited to enhanced taste. For me, the biggest benefit has always been the nurturing “take away” as a parent, which is far greater than when tearing open a packet of those commercially prepared mixes (complete with dehydrated marshmallows, resembling space-rocks). So, if you have children or neighbors who have children, now’s the time to whisk, sift and store this terrific cocoa mix and make sure to stop and take notice at how different it feels, when you hear those wonderful words “This is so delicious!” Also, if you have friends who go skiing often, this cocoa mix makes a fabulous gift.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • Large triple-mesh wire sieve (not a fine-mesh sieve)
  • 5-quart canister, preferably airtight

For the Cocoa Mix:

  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes :

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet or semisweet chocolate ((use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows1) To assemble the mix: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a 6-quart bowl. Sift mixture through a large triple-mesh sieve into another bowl and then sift back into the original bowl. Store in an airtight 4- to 5-quart canister.2) To make a mug of hot cocoa: Place 1/3 cup of the dry mix into a mug. (Use less mix for a smaller cup.) Fill the mug with boiling water, milk, half and half or cream (or use a combination). Add vanilla and stir well, with a cinnamon stick, if using. Top with any of the suggested garnishes. If serving to young children, you might want to stir in a bit of cold milk just to take some of the heat off.Note: To shave chocolate, if using, run a regular vegetable peeler across a block of firm bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Depending on the width of the chocolate you’re shaving, you will either get long curls or a fine dusting. Both are delicious. Store any extras in an airtight container.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • For the Cocoa Mix:
  • 3 cups Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups dry nonfat milk
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

For One Mug of Hot Cocoa:

  • 1/3 cup Mom’s Hot Cocoa Mix (use a bit more or less, depending on your desire for richness)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water or very hot milk, half and half or cream, or use a combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Suggested Garnishes:

  • Cinnamon sticks, for stirring
  • Whipped cream (or pulverize a few hard peppermint candies and fold them into whipped cream with a bit of pink food coloring and then sprinkle the top with some more peppermint candy that’s been cracked into coarser pieces.)
  • OR Big Marshmallows OR Shaved bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate (use a vegetable peeler) mini chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Superfine sugar
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Marshmallows (optional)
  • Peppermint candies (optional)
  • Chocolate for shaving (optional)

From the spice section:

  • Ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • Vanilla

From the dairy case:

  • Milk, half and half or heavy cream (all optional)

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