Autumn Mix Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! Although I don’t really celebrate and get dressed up, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because I love watching others display their creative side. Another reason is obviously the candy.

When I was a kid, we went trick or treating only a handful of times because it was difficult for us to trick or treat in our neighborhood. Whatever candy I did get, I would categorize my candies by type; chocolate, fruit candies, and the cheap stuff. My favorite chocolates were Milky Ways, Snickers, and plain Hershey bars. In the fruit pile, I’d have my Skittles, Starbursts, Smarties, and lollipops. Finally, the cheap pile was a compilation of no name candies; like caramels, those strawberry candies that no one seems to like (except for me), caramel cremes, and peppermints. We got lucky because we never got raisins or apples, except one time, I do remember getting a few pennies in my pumpkin.

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Then of course, I had my favorites that I never got through trick or treating; Peeps and candy corn. These two faves are a common unpopular opinion. I have heard many people say they hate Peeps and candy corn, mostly because of the taste. I love marshmallows, so Peeps are a given; and candy corn is the quintessential Halloween candy, so no hate there. But my favorite type of candy corn to get is Autumn Mix.

To me, Autumn Mix is the best of all three worlds; candy corn, mellowcreme pumpkins, and Indian corn. Most say they hate candy corn because it’s too sweet. It’s pretty much concentrated sugar with a slight vanilla taste. Candy corn’s distinct taste is actually thanks to honey, which makes this sugary treat even sweeter.

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As we got older, My sister and I would buy our own candy. We’d share a bag of Autumn Mix, where she’d take most of the candy corn and pumpkins, and leave me with all of the Indian corn. I honestly don’t get the Indian corn hate. It was a welcome taste change when gobbling up pieces of monotonous candy corn. It’s the only one that is chocolate flavored, although the signature candy corn taste is still there. Indian corn quickly became one of my favorites, and is one of the reasons I decided to make these cupcakes. I wanted to highlight one of my favorites, and Indian corn is the underdog of all Halloween candy. These cupcakes are an ode to Autumn Mix, and my love for super sugary treats.

I used The Kitchn’s recipe for Quick Yellow Cake for these cupcakes. I tinted the batter according to the candy corn; a small amount of untinted batter on the bottom of the cup (for the candy and Indian corn), and orange for the corn’s bodies and for the mellowcreme pumpkins. To finish the color schemes off, I frosted them with seven minute frosting, one of my favorites, tinted accordingly; yellow for candy corn, green to top off the mellowcreme pumpkins, and a chocolate flavored one for the Indian corn. The chocolate frosting was important for me to get right for two reasons; I wanted to get the Indian corn correct with it’s chocolate flavor, and because I had yet to see a chocolate seven minute frosting anywhere online.

The cakes came out really moist and yummy! Although I wanted a layered effect with the candy/Indian corn ones, it sort of tie-dyed instead; which was a pleasant surprise. Another surprise was adding some cocoa powder to a portion of the frosting. It tasted really good with the cupcakes, something I was initially worried about. I think that melted chocolate would probably work best for a chocolate seven minute frosting.

Please enjoy yourselves this Halloween! Just remember to stay safe!

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Quick Yellow Cake – adapted from The Kitchn

Makes 18 cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Soften your butter, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
  2. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the softened butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated and light.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and gently beat it in, alternating withthe milk and vanilla. Beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, then high for 3 minutes.
  4. Pour some of the batter, about a tablespoon, into 12 of the cupcake liners. Tint the batter orange, using food coloring, and fill all the liners about 3/4 of the way up.
  5. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the tops spring back slightly when pressed.
  6. Let cool in the pans, on wire racks for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the cupcake pans onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

Seven Minute Frosting – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the sugar, water, egg whites, cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer set at low speed for 30 seconds, then place bowl over your double boiler.
  2. Beating at high speed, cook the frosting for about 7 minutes, or until it’s stiff and glossy. Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and beat an additional 2 minutes.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Do not over fill the cupcake liners! I kind of did (heh), and they overflowed. 3/4 of the way works perfectly. 
  • To make a double boiler, place about 1-2 inches of water in a pot and set to a simmer. Do not boil the water and make sure your bowl does not touch the water! The steam coming off the simmering water gently cooks the frosting.
  • For the chocolate frosting, I folded two tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted, into about a third of the frosting. Melted bittersweet chocolate can possibly work as well.
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Pizza Two Ways

Ah, pizza. One of my favorite ways to get my carb fix.  I haven’t had pizza in forever, so I was definitely due. My sister and I used to regularly indulge in a slice from our local pizzeria, where they’d heat up and fold our slices into a brown paper bag. We would pull out the slices and proceed to eat the folded piece of cheesy dough, cold tips first. After deciding to get healthy a few years back, pizza was on my imaginary ‘do not consume’ list. Pizza, along with all fast food, was immediately shunned because of its high calorie count and lack of nutrients. While I am still living a healthier life, it was time to reintroduce my favorite ‘unhealthy’ foods back into my life, but with a huge change.

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Over the years, I have become one of those people that believes that everything tastes better if it’s homemade. Anything can really be made at home, with a little search and effort. Not only will it taste lightyears better, but you will get some extra satisfaction upon realizing how easy it was and because you did it yourself.

As a New Yorker, I have a set of standards for the ‘perfect’ pizza. Every New Yorker compares every single slice of pizza to the one they used to eat as a kid; which undoubtedly becomes their ‘standard’. Now, New York style pizza traditionally has a super thin crust that can be crisp, a thin layer of greasy mozzarella cheese, and is mostly foldable. My friends and I used to open up our slices blot the extra, unnecessary grease before digging in. I knew I wanted something similar to what I used to get from my pizzeria but with a healthier twist.

First round of pizzas in the oven! Non dairy cheese on the left, mozzarella and turkey ham on the right

First round of pizzas in the oven! Non dairy cheese on the left, mozzarella and turkey ham on the right

This pizza dough is exactly what it’s name states. The recipe, from King Arthur Flour, is indeed “The Easiest Pizza You’ll Ever Make.” It was a cinch to make, and came out ridiculously delicious. In an effort to make the crust relatively healthy, I switched out about half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I also added some vegetables to mine because everything is automatically healthier if it’s loaded with veggies; bonus if there’s vegetables on your vegetable. The result was a super crispy but slightly chewy crust. I rolled it out as thin as I could go, in an effort to imitate the pizza slices of my past. I was pleased at its stability when picked up, and it held on to my multitude of topping pretty well. Now, the crust didn’t fold but that didn’t even matter anymore. And the best part? NO GREASE! My family and I enjoyed this pizza, so this recipe will definitely be made again.

During my pizza crust recipe search,I also came across one of the trendiest ways to eat pizza without the guilt a regular, carby slice might bring. In an effort to have a healthier pizza, and after seeing it everywhere on the internet, it was time for me to try the famous cauliflower crust. I had to try this crust because it was already deemed healthy eats, solely on the fact that it was made with cauliflower. I admit I was a bit skeptical but I love trying new things, and anything that gets more veggies in me is an automatic win. I held out hope for this crust and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not your traditional pizza, like the one above, but it is still a nice substitution; especially if you’re doing the low-carb thing. You kind of have to eat this with a fork and knife though, as it won’t support itself when picked up.

Pizza is one of those things that is infinitely adaptable, and these recipes were no different. A pizza night with either of these recipes is sure to be a hit!

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The Easiest Pizza You’ll Ever Make – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 3 or 4 pizzas, 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast; or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups 100% whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the sugar, yeast, salt and olive oil  in the lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes, to proof the yeast.
  2. Add the flour, starting with 5 1/2 cups and adding more as necessary to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Knead the dough with your hands, a mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle, until it’s smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container, cover it, and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces, for medium-crust pizza; or three pieces, for thicker crusts. Roll each piece, on a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin. To roll, work from the center to the outside like pie dough. Let the dough rest several times to relax it and make it more cooperative. Turn it over from time to time and roll the reverse side.
  6. Place the rounds on pizza pans; on baking sheets; or, if you have a pizza stone in your oven, on parchment.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450°F. While it’s heating, get out your toppings, which you’ve prepared ahead. Some possibilities include sliced pepperoni; sautéed mushrooms, onions, or peppers; cooked meats; olives; anchovies; and grated or shredded cheese.
  8. Spread pizza or spaghetti sauce lightly over the surface, and add your favorite toppings. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese.
  9. Bake the pizzas for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown, the toppings are hot and bubbly, and the cheese is melted. Remove the pizzas from the oven.
  10. Immediately transfer pizzas to a cooling rack, so the crust won’t get soggy. After about 10 minutes, to allow the toppings to set, slice and serve.
Cauliflower pizzas: dairy free cheese on the left, mozzarella and mushrooms on the right

Cauliflower pizzas: dairy free cheese on the left, mozzarella and mushrooms on the right

The Best Cauliflower Crust Pizza – adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Makes two servings

  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450ºF. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper.
  2. Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets—you don’t need much stem, just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”.
  3. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.
  4. Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring out the excess water, squeezing out as much as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.
  5. Dumped the squeezed cauliflower into a bowl. Now add the mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want.  Add the egg and mix with your hands.
  6. Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your parchment paper. Pat it down throughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.
  7. Slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want. Slide the parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.
  8. Allow the pizza to cool for one to two minutes. Use a pizza cutter and a spatula to serve up your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza!

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used a combo of whole wheat flour and all-purpose for the King Arthur Flour recipe, but it can also be made with only all-purpose. 
  • For the cauliflower pizza, do not fret if you don’t have all the listed ingredients. Use what you have; I promise it will still be equally delicious. 
  • To quickly cool down the microwaved cauliflower ‘snow,’ spread out on a plate or baking sheet and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes. 
  • I think both of these recipes can be made vegan. For the cauliflower pizza, you can use dairy free cheese (like my sister does) and replace the egg with a flax egg. Let me know if you try this and how it turns out!
  • Take complete creative freedom when topping your pizzas. I added sliced mushrooms, sliced breakfast sausage, thin slices of bell peppers, and fresh, chopped spinach. The possibilities are truly endless!

Apple Cake

My dad is a huge fan of apple desserts, which is an odd thing in itself because he doesn’t like many things. You give him anything with apples and he’ll be a happy camper; apple pie, strudel, danishes, muffins, donuts, oatmeal, etc. This week, I decided to make something that I knew he would just love and devour.

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I go to the local farmer’s market every Thursday, and get a bag of apples each time. A small bag of apples, with about a dozen for $1.50 is not a bad deal! I ended up accidentally stocking up on apples over the past few weeks and since no one was eating them, this cake happened.

This beautiful cake is from the brilliantly awesome Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, one of my very favorite blogs. When I am in search for any kind of recipe, I usually check her site first. I’m convinced everything she makes, even the things I haven’t tried, are just absolutely delicious. I made her S’more cake (from her cookbook) for my birthday this year, with amazing success. This apple cake is originally her mother’s, which makes it even more special and a higher guarantee for deliciousness.

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The process is pretty straight forward. The most difficult part of the recipe, if any, was probably peeling, coring, and chopping the apples. Everything else is a cinch, and doesn’t even require a mixer. The only piece of equipment necessary is a tube pan.  These things can be finicky, and can literally make or break a cake. This dense but delicate cake can definitely crumble under mishandling from the pan. I may or may not know this from experience 😉

The result is a lusciously thick cake, full of cinnamon-y apple craters. The edges of the cake caramelize in the oven, forming a sugary sweet crust that goes deliciously against the soft and tangy apple pockets. It reminded me a lot of an apple pie, which is a yummy change.  My dad, and everyone else in my family, thoroughly enjoyed this cake. I would definitely make it again, and strongly suggest you do too.

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Apple Cake – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one 9 or 10-inch tube cake

  • 6 apples, (Deb’s mom and I both used McIntosh apples)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. A hand mixer makes mixing a breeze but is not necessary, just make sure you have a sturdy whisk! Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.
  5. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and carefully unmold onto a platter. 

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used a 10-inch tube pan for this recipe, with great results. Deb originally used a 9-inch, and recommends this one
  • Grease that tube pan really, really well. I didn’t have any sticking problems but it can happen.
  • I used half brown sugar and half white sugar for the apples, which is not necessary. Deb’s original recipe asks for all white sugar, which is absolutely fine.
  • Make sure that when you insert a cake tester into the cake, that you do so towards the center for higher accuracy. Do not fret if the tester comes out slightly wet towards the end of baking; it’ll continue to cook while cooling. Do not overbake!
  • Seriously, completely cool the cake before taking out of the pan. I bolded it for extra importance. I cannot emphasize it enough! This cake is dense but fragile, because of the apples, and can cause breakage if unmolded while warm. Trust me, the wait is worth it.

Cinnamon Rolls

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream with some cinnamon rolls. In the dream, I baked a batch of rolls that iced themselves. Like, they came out of the oven with a layer of creamy, and melty cream cheese icing. I woke up determined to make something like that, and finally got to it yesterday. These aren’t self icing cinnamon rolls but they are extremely delicious!

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This was my second attempt at making cinnamon rolls and the process went so smoothly. My first attempt, with a different recipe, was a sticky mess. The filling was supposed to be mixed with margarine; which made the filling/rolling very messy, the dough was ridiculously sticky, and the rolls unrolled before they even made it to the pan. Since this experience, and my dream, I set out to try again.

The recipe, from the lovely Lynna at Hearts in My Oven, is a simple but lengthy project. These rolls require two rises, one after making the dough, and the other after the rolls have been formed. Each rise is for two hours. I know, such a long wait! Trust me, it is definitely worth it.

The dough is simple and comes together quickly, even faster if you’re armed with a stand mixer. I am not, so I kneaded this dough by hand. I have to say, this is one of the parts I am most proud of. When I usually make any yeasted dough, I give in and add more flour while kneading to get to the desired result faster. This always ends up backfiring on me because there’s a reason why yeasted dough recipes call for a certain amount and only that amount of flour. Kneading helps develop the gluten that make bread deliciously airy and fluffy. Adding more flour while kneading can lead to a tough end result. Believe me, I know. While I was tempted to add more flour, I restrained and kept kneading. I kept going and going, until the dough became a smooth, lump free, unsticky mass. It happened right before my eyes!

After resting for two hours, it was time to roll out. At this point, I was kind of nervous. I kept remembering the sticky mess I had the last time I attempted something like this, but I knew this time was different. I laid out my dough and begin to roll. For the first time ever, the dough rolled out with zero stickiness and cooperated with me! So much so, I rolled it out a lot bigger than what the recipe called for!

After laying out the cinnamon sugar filling, it was time for the next nerve wracking part: rolling. This was where things usually got messy but it came together pretty cleanly! Now, I was just internally screaming with excitement. To cut the rolls, you need unflavored floss. I was a little skeptical at first but this is key to this recipe. Sliding the floss under the roll, you cross and yank the floss at the top to cut out a roll. This method results in a clean cut that does not smush your rolls into oblivion, and keeps the sugar filling in place.

Now, the original recipe yielded a dozen. I got 20. I rolled out the dough into a bigger rectangle, which resulted in more rolls. No matter how big you roll this dough, the result is a very fluffy, lightly sweetened roll with a huge punch of cinnamon flavor. I used Martha Stewart’s classic cream cheese frosting to ice a few of these, which really set it over the top. The tangy sweetness of the frosting hits the airy cinnamon roll just right. Make these rolls for this long weekend, I swear you won’t regret it!

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Cinnamon Rolls – Adapted from Hearts in My Oven

Makes about 12 rolls (more if you roll you dough into a larger rectangle)

Dough:

  • ½ cup of milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup of warm water (110°F)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (one packet) Active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 4 ¼ cup of all purpose flour , divided

Filling:

  • ¾ cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoonof  ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast: sprinkle the packet of yeast over the half cup of warm water and set aside for 10 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until the butter is completed melted. Remove from heat and let the it cool down until about 100°F.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, sugar, egg, egg yolk until combined. Alternatively, you can use your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. Next, add the salt, milk mixture, and 2 cups of flour into the mixture until blended.
  5. Switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, and add 2 cups of flour. Knead by hand until its smooth and not sticking to the sides of the bowl anymore, for about 15-20 minutes. Switch to your dough hook at this step, if using a stand mixer.
  6. In a large metal bowl, lightly oil bottom and sides of the bowl. Make the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a draft-free spot (such as your unheated oven), until dough doubles (90-120 minutes).
  7. While the dough rests, make the filling. In a medium sized bowl, mix the lightly packed brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  8. When the dough is doubled, lightly flour a clean work surface.  Transfer dough and press it down. Roll the dough into a 16x12inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin, with the long side of the rectangle facing you.
  9. Lightly brush the dough with melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the filling on top and pat down gently into the dough with the palm of your hand.
  10. Starting from the long side closest to you, roll towards the opposite end as tightly as you can. Use either a little bit of water or melted butter to seal the ends. Pinch edges to seal.
  11. Line the bottom of a 13x9inch baking pan with parchment paper. Using a unflavored string of floss, cut the rolls into 12 equal pieces. (Slide the floss under the roll and wrap it around the roll to cut/slice.)
  12. Place rolls, cut side up in baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set it in a draft-free spot, until dough doubles in size (90-120 minutes).
  13. Once rolls are doubled in size, preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown.
  14. Let rolls sit in pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool down. Spread cream cheese icing on top after cinnamon rolls have cooled for at least 15 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting – adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes about 2 cups

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place your softened cream cheese and butter into a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add in your sifted confectioners’ sugar in stages, to avoid lumps, until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, and stir to combine.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I made about half of the frosting recipe, as I did not frost all of the rolls.
  • The ends of the rolls may not have any sugar filling. You can discard these or bake them anyway.  Make sure the filling is spread out completely before rolling to avoid empty end rolls. 
  • Store your cooled rolls in an airtight container. For the frosted rolls, I recommend you stick them in the fridge because of the cream cheese in the frosting (it can possibly go bad if left outside). They taste awesome microwaved for about 30s on high the next day!

Orange Scones

Another day, another recipe I mess up! This was my first time making scones, and after having my sister nag me for weeks to make some, I caved. I scoured the internet and several cookbooks, in search for a recipe that seemed doable for me. Looking for recipes is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There are tons of recipes for the same thing, but there is always that one that is exactly what you’re looking for. It usually takes me a couple of days to find the ‘perfect’ recipe. Besides the obvious Google searches, I love going on Foodgawker for visual inspiration. I mean, everyone eats with their eyes first, right? The pictures on Foodgawker are absolutely gorgeous, which helps me make a quicker decision.

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Anyway, I didn’t find this recipe on there. This recipe is from a cookbook I found at my local library. The book, America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts by Ron Douglas, was sitting on the shelf and I borrowed it on a whim. This scone recipe was the very last recipe in the book. I almost gave up on looking for the scone recipe, until I got to the last page. I read the ingredients and the rest of the recipe and decided to move forward. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and made a couple of substitutions and got to work.

Now, my family is full of picky eaters. My mom and dad won’t touch anything that’s relatively pale, or anything that isn’t ‘plain.’ This means I can’t make anything too adventurous or exotic. The most I can do is basically a coconut pound cake or a yellow layer cake without any filling or icing. They are notorious for declining any dessert that is relatively over the top or covered in anything creamy. Their pickiness is one of the main reasons I barely bake (but am now changing that and teaching them how to try everything). My sister is pretty picky as well, but sometimes not by choice. She is lactose intolerant and is now allergic to tree nuts. This actually cuts my recipe selections by a lot. Most awesome recipes have nuts or some kind of cream on or in them. I sometimes feel like a mom with her because I always check labels to make sure there aren’t any nuts or milk in anything we eat. I can work around the dairy problem just fine but the nut thing is kind of hard.

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Being my parent’s daughter, she didn’t want anything in the scones other than the orange flavor. The original recipe calls for dried fruit, such as cranberries or currants. I left them out because I aim to please. I also didn’t have the orange blossom water the recipe called for, so I squeezed some orange juice in there instead. When I was mixing the batter, I noticed it was a little too wet. This was my first attempt at scones but I knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to look. According to the recipe, I was supposed to have a dryer dough that should have enabled me to roll out and cut into the signature triangular shape. Surprised at the outcome, I quickly came up with another solution: drop scones! They’re pretty much just sweetened biscuits anyway, so I picked up an ice cream scoop and set them on the baking sheets. I figure the omission of the dried fruit produced this wet batter.

So, I basically learned that altering recipes a bit too much can lead to different results. While they look more like cookies than scones, they still have that scone taste; fluffy but crumbly and orangey all at the same time. The next time (because there will be a next time) I make scones, I’m determined to get them ‘right.’

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Orange Scones adapted from America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts by Ron Douglas’ recipe for “Zuni Cafe’s Scones”

Makes (allegedly) 16 scones

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup of mixed dried currants, barberries, or cranberries (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of cold milk
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 1 tbsp of the sugar. Mix well.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or using your hands, until the butter is the size of small peas.
  4. Add the dried fruit and orange zest. Mix well.
  5. Whisk together the egg, milk, and orange juice. Stir into the dry mixture until everything is well moistened.
  6. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. On a floured surface, pat each ball flat into a 6 or 7 inch circle and roll out until it is 3/4 inch thick. Cut each round into 8 wedges.
  7. Arrange the wedges on the pan without any crowding. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm.

Orange Vanilla Glaze

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4-1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the juice, milk, extract, and zest.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar until desired thickness.
  3. Spoon over completely cooled scones.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • The original recipe called for salted butter. Most bakers (like myself) only use unsalted. If using salted butter, cut the salt amount to 1/4 teaspoon.
  • The recipe also claimed I was supposed to get 16 scones. Considering I had an issue with the dough, I scored 11.
  • Keep an eye on your oven! My oven runs hot, so my scones were golden brown on the bottom but pale on top.
  • The glaze, which is not part of the original recipe, is optional. Mine came out thin, but use the larger amount of powdered sugar if you like your glaze a little thicker.