Category Archives: baking

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Caramelized Onion Triangles

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to call this.  If Awesome Puffs was a bit more descriptive, I would have said that.  

I recently went to a party that served no food.  A birthday party.  Not even cake.  Just bottled water – and a shortage at that.  Booze would be a distant dream.  I was stupefied.  In all fairness, I do have a tendency to go overboard with the food.  Feeding people is my passion.

With that said, if you come to my house for anything, I will do everything in my power to feed you.  Whether I cook or order in, you will not leave without eating.  If this rouses images from Misery, I wouldn’t blame you.  I even gave my FedEx guy muffins!

Why you ask?  Could it be that my mom will absolutely take offense and give you the stink eye if you don’t eat at her house?  Or could it be that I myself would want to eat if I went to someone’s house?  Whatever the reason, we all benefit with food.  And these triangles.

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What started out as a random experiment turned out to be a family and guest favorite.  These pastries are easy to assemble and easy to store in the freezer for lunch, guests or a great filling snack.

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Caramelized Onion Triangles

yields 8 pastries

Ingredients:

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. Unfold your puff pastry sheets (working one at a time) onto a lightly floured surface.
  3. Most puffed pastry sheets I worked with already come divided in four.  If so, just separate at the perforations.  If not, roll out to about 16 inches and cut into four squares.
  4. On each puff pastry squares (you should have 8), spread with a tablespoon of pesto on one half of the triangle, leaving about 1/2 inch border on the puff pastry.
  5. Top with approximately a tablespoon of goat cheese, tomatoes, and onions.  Just put enough that you can close the triangle without tearing.
  6. Fold the clean part of the triangle over and crimp around the edges with a fork.
  7. Repeat with all remaining squares until you have 8 triangles.
  8. You can freeze at this point in a airtight container or bag.
  9. Bake in a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Allow the pastries to cool on a cookie rack so they maintain their crisp crust.
  11. If you have extra ingredients, make a sandwich! 🙂
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8 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, baking, Favorites, Lunch, Vegetarian

Brownies [ w/ Melted Chocolate ]

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I love brownies.  They are my go-to dessert when I need comfort in the form of chocolate.  I do have a problem.  I cannot pick a favorite brownie recipe.  Maybe you can help me out.  Here is what I know about brownies:

–  Has to be fudgy.
–  Not cakey.
–  Has to have top flaky layer.
–  No nuts.
–  Has to exude chocolate.

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With that said, I rely on two recipes and have many more on my to-do list.  The first  one I’d like to share with you involves melted chocolate (as opposed to cocoa powder).

The results?

–  Definitely fudgy.
–  Definitely has the top flaky layer.
–  Definitely chocolatey.

I loved every bite.  It had a chew and soft enough to melt in my mouth.  With that said, I think I’ll look to see if other recipes really pack more of a chocolate punch.

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What’s your favorite brownie recipe?

Brownies (with melted chocolate)

barely adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease an 8×8 inch square pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water.  Cook over medium heat until boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Start checking after 25 minutes because you don’t want to overbake.  Cool in the pan and cut before serving.

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under baking, Brownies, Desserts

Tres Leches

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As we approach Cinco de Mayo, I look forward to great food.  Guacamole.  Fajitas.  Chips and salsa.  Mexican wedding cookies.  Tres leches cake.  After having a slew of spicy and flavorful dishes, this cake is a light and cool dessert that absolutely fits the bill.

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As if I need a reason to make and eat this cake.  A cake soaked in a blend of sweet milks and covered in fresh whipped cream.  I say, have it all-year round.  Birthdays, weekends, found-another-sweetened-condensed-milk-can-in-your-pantry days.  I definitely don’t need a reason.  Just a fork.

Tres Leches

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking pow der
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.
3. Cream butter and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well until fully incorporated.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well
blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
6. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the
top of the cooled cake.
7. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon
vanilla together until thick in a stand mixer.  Spread over the top of cake.  Place cake in fridge until time to serve.

4 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Blueberry Scones

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Last week was ridiculous.  Between two trips to the emergency room for a baby whose 104-105 fever wouldn’t break for 3 days (with medicine), and work deadlines that didn’t take notice at all of my personal schedule, I’m physically and emotionally spent.

For instance, after 2 days of a high fever, we thought we were in the clear when the baby’s temperature went down to 99.  And, after 48 hours of no sleep, we thought to take a nap at 3:00 a.m.  At 5:00 a.m., turns out the temperature went down to 94, which is bad bad bad.  Helpless is the word.  Oh, and also sleep deprived.

Spent.

As in, I want to hide under my bed covers and sleep for a month….and wake up only for these scones.

I made these scones as a way to use up my frozen blueberries, and to also have a special breakfast treat for several days during the week.  With such a short ingredient list, you’re likely to have everything on hand.  And after a week like mine, I’ll call that a win.  Add a cup of dark coffee, and I can almost see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blueberry Scones

barely adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, make sure its thawed and drained)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter with a fork until the mixture look like coarse crumbs.
  4. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful and gentle to where you don’t break the blueberries because the color will bleed into the dough.
  5. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.
  6. Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 x 3 x 1.5 inches. Cut the rectangle in half then cut the pieces in half again, giving you 4 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.
  7. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown.

2 Comments

Filed under baking, Breakfast, Vegetarian

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

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Have you seen the movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs?  Fully identifying with Janeane Garofalo’s character, crushing on Ben Chaplin and Uma Thurman, and of course the adorable pets, I loved that movie.  But, looking back, the one thing I remember most is the cheesecake scene.  Do you know the cheesecake scene?  An image-conscious Thurman attempts to refuse cheesecake, but ultimately succumbs to being fed each bite by Chaplin.  Aside from the sheer awkwardness of the moment altogether, I remember studying the cheesecake a little too much.  As a child only left with a stash of Maria cookies (thanks, mom!), I longed for something so decadent.

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As strange as the cheesecake scene, I still think of that movie when I eat cheesecake.  Totally weird.

You can use whatever preserves, jam or fruit butter you have on hand.  Mango and white chocolate were heavenly together, but I know this would also work with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
    softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fruit preserves, jam, coulis or butter

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbsp white sugar and unsalted butter.  Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate chips and half and half, whisking until smooth.  Once smooth,remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Pour half of the batter over the graham cracker crust in the springform pan.
  5. Spoon half of the fruit preserves.  Pour the remaining batter over the preserves.
  6. Spoon the remaining fruit preserves and marble the preserves with the tip of the knife.  Marble according to your preference.  I wanted more pockets of mango butter so I didn’t marble as much.
  7. Place the springform pan on top of a cookie sheet filled halfway with water.  Carefully move the springform pan and cookie sheet into the oven.
  8. Bake the cheesecake for 55-60 minutes, until the cheesecake is set (no longer jiggling or wet in the middle).  Once set, turn off your oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour.  Do not touch it.  Do not open the oven.  Just leave it.
  9. After an hour, remove the cheesecake and allow it to cool.  Once cool, cover with a plastic wrap, touching the cheesecake as you cover and place in fridge for at least 8 hours prior to serving.

 

3 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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I love coffee cake. I just do. More than just the perfectly crumb cake with a bountiful streusel topping, the cake signifies relationships. Impromptu gatherings or just meaningful conversations take place around these cakes. Usually accompanied by copious cups of coffee or tea, conversations abound with coffee cakes. And, this cake is a classic – simple to make and yields a bakery-like presentation.

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In addition to the decadence of having two layers of streusel, the cake, when cut, is a stunner. The sour cream is a wonderful addition to keep the cake from drying out without making it too heavy.

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And, when you’re with good company, the last thing you need is a fussy cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork.

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Filed under baking, Cake

Prune Cake

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My mom get ideas. Usually ones that are well deserved of my eye rolls. Her latest? Prunes. Prunes! I tried. The baby tried. Binks, on the other hand, did not. My dad once attempted to make me try prune juice. I wanted to cut out my tongue.

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But, turns out when you cut it up and put it in a cake and top it off with a surprisingly magnificent buttermilk sauce, prunes are delicious. In fact, the prunes lend a great deal of moisture to the cake. So, when I make desserts like this, it bodes well for me to hide the ingredients from my husband. Presented as a spice cake, I gave him a small piece. Without stopping for air, he ate the whole piece and asked for more. My mom, who was also over, requested more than one piece. After I was sure my husband couldn’t deny enjoying the cake, I revealed the magic ingredient – prunes. He paused and said, “it’s amazing!’ Then, he asked for another. I looked over at my mom who looked at me, smiled and said, “I told you so.”

Insert eye roll here.

Prune Cake

barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

CAKE:

  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Place the prunes in a small saucepan. Cover them with water. Bring to a low boil and cook until soft and mashable, about 8 minutes. Drain the water and mash the prunes into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs to the oil and sugar, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. Combine the four mixture with the egg mixture. Add and stir in the buttermilk until just combined – do not over stir. The batter may be lumpy at this point.
  5. Stir in the prunes.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.
  7. Meanwhile about 5-7 minutes before the cake is done, combine all the topping ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling until the icing turns a light caramel color, 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping evenly over the cake. Serve warm or cool.

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Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Roasted Chickpeas

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Combining a dedication to eating well while having game-watching get-togethers can be challenging.  Game-day snacks don’t necessarily have to be a diet-wrecker.  For instance, this snack has been an instant favorite in my house.  Not only have I been eating it by itself, I throw it in salads for added nutrition with a wonderful crunch.

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I have experimented with this recipe for a while and for crunchier chickpeas, it’s important to roast the chickpeas without coating in oil.  Call me crazy, but the oil seals in the moisture.  As such, first roast and then coat.  The spices really can vary based on what you want – savory or sweet.  I can’t wait to try a cinnamon sugar twist on this snack favorite.

Roasted Chickpeas

adapted from Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (not the same as cayenne pepper)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Dry in between paper towels.  Using a paper towel, to press on and soak up the water and loosen the skin from the chickpeas.  Discard the skins.
  3. Roast the chickpeas for 30 minutes, until crispy.  Stir every 10 minutes.
  4. While baking, whisk together the olive oil, paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder until fully incorporated.  Remove from the oven and pour into the bowl and stir to coat.

4 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, baking, Snacks, Vegan

Berry Vanilla Cake with Whipped Frosting

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My husband’s family doesn’t care much for birthday celebrations.  But, they do make an effort for their mother.  In a family full of boys one her, it’s quite sweet to watch them devise a plan to celebrate her birthday.  This year, we were short on time and put together a quick plan to accommodate a rowdy baby and a son who was only in town for a short period of time.

Taking into consideration my mother in law’s preferences for cake, I knew I had to construct something light, not-to-sweet and definitely included fruit.  As long as I’ve known her she’s ordered these magnificent cakes with glazed fruit, slivered almonds and whipped cream frosting.  With hours to make it, I found some supplies I had on hand to put together a cake she would love.

With my favorite American buttercream being too sweet for her taste and not having time to make Swiss meringue buttercream, my options were limited.  So, I tried something new based on what I had on hand.  I’m so glad I did.  This cake was a hit.  Bringing back memories of when she would bake cakes for her sons, she ate her cake happily.  It was a good day.

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Frosting using heavy whipping cream can be finnicky and not always the stable when you want to make a presentation.  Although you can stabilize it with powdered sugar, this frosting using Cool Whip is way more stable.  Especially with the addition of powdered sugar, I was able to keep the cake and frosting in its proper form through the afternoon while we ate pieces of the cake.

If I would have changed anything, based on supplies I had on hand, I would have added more blueberries on the top.  If you want to make more layers (cut each layer in half for a four layer cake), just make sure you double the filling and frosting.  I had just enough frosting for a filling layer, the outer layer and just enough for piping.

Berry Vanilla Bean Cake with Whipped Frosting
cake slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction and also used here
makes a two layer 8′ inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1 cups berries (mixed or pick one)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Frosting:

  • 1 (8oz) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar. sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish/Decorating

  • berries
  •  sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you make cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. If you are baking cake layers, grease two eight-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large and separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium heat, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, until the mixture is very light/pale.
  5. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.  Carefully add and mix in half of the milk mixture until all is combined.  Then, mix in half of the flour mixture until fully combined.  Add the remaining milk mixture until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture until incorporated.  Once everything is incorporated, beat the mixture for a good 2 minutes to ensure that everything is smoothly combined.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.  Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Prepare filling:  While cake is baking, in a bowl, mash together the 1 cup of berries coarsely – I still like big chunks.  Pour in sugar and mix together.  Set it aside.
  8. Prepare frosting:  In your stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer (using a large bowl), whip together the heavy cream, instant pudding powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Mix until its smooth and getting thick.  Remove from the mixer and by hand, fold in the whipped topping until fully incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Once there are no white streaks, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.  Once firm, assemble and frost cake.
  9. Assemble and frost:  Place one layer of cake on a cake board.  Spread the fruit to within an inch of the border.  Then, spread the whipped frosting on top of the fruit and then place the final layer on top.  Frost the cake completely.

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Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Orange and Oat Scones

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I fear I’ve gotten in a breakfast rut.  I used to change it up with oatmeal, smoothies, omelettes, and pancakes.  These days, the fastest breakfast I can put together in the morning is toast and eggs.  And, last week, it officially got old.  Requiring something different, I ventured out and made scones.

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Unlike brunch where scones can be sweet and almost-dessert, a weekday breakfast needs to be filling, healthy and satisfying.  These scones satisfy all three criteria and the taste is sublime.  Perfectly sweet and hearty, the scones are perfect during these cold mornings alongside a cup of my favorite tea.  I had dried apricots on hand, but you can use any dried fruit you have.

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I kept them in an airtight container for the week and just toasted them every morning and the scones did not dry out for the whole week.

Orange and Oat Scones

from 101 Cookbooks
yields 8 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, currants, cranberries, blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like little pearls.  Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats and zest. Stir in the buttermilk and apricots until just moistened.
  4. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.
  5. After bringing the dough together, gently pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room between each scone.
  6. Sprinkle the tops with the 2 tbsp coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.

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Filed under baking, Bread, Breakfast