Monday, August 14, 2017

Apricot Clafouti

Apricot season! Is there any better time? I know it's here when there is a practical avalanche of almost overripe apricots in the produce section. It only lasts a week or so but I was lucky enough to catch it this year. And then I went looking for apricot recipes and decided to make this one.

So many apricot recipes calling for fresh apricots really have you make a jam first. What's the point? I wanted a dish where you could see and taste the actual apricot.

What is the difference between clafouti and cobbler? I think the real question is the difference between a clafouti and an oven pancake. There is slightly more sugar and slightly less flour in a clafouti, and it takes almost twice as long to bake. And when you add this amount of fresh fruit, it takes even longer to get it to brown on top. I could have baked this another ten minutes.

Apricot Clafouti
(recipe from Real Simple)

Unsalted butter, for the pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus almost as much more for the pan
3/4 pound apricots (about 5), pitted and halved
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup half and half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
powdered sugar and/or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a shallow 8-inch ovenproof round dish with butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  3. Place the apricots in the dish in a 
single layer.
  4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, vanilla, half-and-half, and eggs in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the apricots and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Chewy Brownie Cookies

I took a screenshot of this recipe once when someone posted it to Litsy, the social media app for book nerds (not a paid advertisement.) When I participated in the 24in48 readathon a few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook while making these cookies, a practice we in book nerd land call "audiobaking." (There is also "audiocoloring" and "audiocleaning.") I'm pretty sure this recipe originates with Crisco the corporation considering that they refer to it by brand name, and I'm also pretty sure that the chewy texture is largely due to the combination of a lot of sugar plus the Crisco (not a paid advertisement.) So this is one case I wouldn't replace with butter. I made these on a Sunday and they were still soft enough on Wednesday to bring to a work party.

Chewy Brownie Cookies

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 CRISCO stick or 2/3 cup CRISCO Shortening*
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups (12-oz package) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Combine brown sugar, shortening, water, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat eggs into creamed mixture.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop rounded measuring tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. 
5. Bake one baking sheet at a time for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes before moving to cool completely.

JennyBakes' notes:
*I use butter flavor, not sure it makes any difference
I find this dough to be a little thinner than regular chocolate chip cookies, probably due to less flour, but this is all about texture so don't add more than it says to. 
Note from person I took recipe from: "Don't scoop too big, or it will be difficult to tell when they're finished baking."


Monday, July 31, 2017

Apricot Thyme Scones

I was looking through a cookbook from the Ovenly bakery in Brooklyn called Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery. One thing I love is that they offer several basic recipes with ideas for flavor variations. The basic scone recipe had both sweet and savory options, but the one that caught my eye was the apricot-thyme version. It said I could use either fresh or dried apricots, and since it is apricot season I used fresh (and used less liquid than the recipe called for, knowing how wet the fresh fruit would make the batter.)

Apricot Thyme Scones

 8 tbsp (4 oz) chilled, unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup diced apricots, fresh or dried*
2 tsp fresh thyme, pulled off stems
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Cut the butter into cubes.** Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, quickly cut or blend the cold butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Using a large fork or wooden spoon, mix apricots and thyme into the flour-butter mixture.
5. Stir the cream into the flour-butter mixture with a large wooden spoon or a fork until the dough begins to come together. The flour should not be fully incorporated into the dough; do not overmix.
6. Transfer the dough and any loose floury bits to a floured countertop or pastry mat.
7. Quickly knead the dough until it comes fully together, and then flatten it with the palms of your hands into a 3/4 inch thick mound. Fold the dough in half, give it a quarter turn and then flatten it again. Repeat this process 3 more times.***
8. Shape the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 8 even triangles. Place the triangles on an ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to firm up for shape. Just before baking, brush with cream and top with turbinado just before baking (if desired.)
10. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the scone comes out clean.

Jenny's notes:
* If using fresh apricots decrease cream. Start by only using a cup a see where you are.
** Ovenly directions say freeze before using but I just do this straight out of the fridge and into the dry ingredients and it works out fine.
*** The worst thing to me is an overworked scone so I did not do this much mixing/kneading. I used my hands to mix and gather the dough, and formed drop scones for this batch rather than the triangles. I'm also not bothering with freezing the dough ten minutes, but I'm also not working it as much as they do. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Recommended Foodie Memoirs

I once made my youngest sister a list of recommended memoirs. All of these are books I read and liked, and rated either 4 or 5 stars. This is originally from my ReadingEnvy blog, but I thought the readers of JennyBakes might be interested too!

Julie and Julia: 364 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
Half the story that went into the Julie and Julia movie, the blogger part. She is cleaned up and made into a nicer person in the film than she is in the book, but it’s very readable. She decides to cook her way through The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and hijinks ensue.

Cleaving by Julie Powell
This is not alphabetical but it follows Julie & Julia so what can you do. This is a continuation of the story, but instead of her exploring Julia Child she works for a butcher. Also she cheats on her husband. I believe I mentioned she is unpleasant. Yet I gave it 4 stars because I couldn't stop reading it.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Half the story that went into the Julie and Julia movie, the legend, the saint, the one and only Julia Child. This is the stage of her life where she is seeking for a hobby and learns to cook!

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Joan Reardon and Avis DeVoto
I was surprised to feel like I learned so much more about Julia Child through her letters. The DeVotos are in the midst of the political and cultural action in New England while the Childs are moving between various appointed locations while Paul worked for the OSS. Julia was a staunch Democrat and very interested in politics, so many of the letters are full of discussions on what was going on with Eisenhower and McCarthy, up through the election of JFK.

Heat:An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
Seriously could this title be any longer. I love amateur chef memoirs and this is one of the best, plus it is also kind of a biography of Mario Batali.

Kitchen Confidential:Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
At this point, this book is just a restaurant worker classic, but I adore Tony. I read this when I first started thinking about restaurant work, and it was constantly referenced in the Limestone Grille kitchen. I’ve been watching Tony on television ever since.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
Funny because I remember this as a novel but it is a true story about being the child of immigrants and recreating community with foods. Light and lovely.

Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber
All of this author’s novels are food related but this one is more personal, about her own childhood with different cultures and being a first-generation American.

Mastering the Art ofSoviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen
I LOVED this book so much I made recipes from it for Thanksgivukkah one year, and had my book club read it the next year. Not all of them loved it as much. It takes different decades of Soviet Russia and talks about her childhood through certain food items. I thought it was so interesting!

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl was the longtime editor of Gourmet Magazine, and suddenly, Conde Nast cancelled the magazine right before the Thanksgiving issue. The next year of her life was rough, and she went back to cooking and spending time with family to make it through. This is where I got the apricot pie recipe, and even though it wasn’t great, it was how she wrote about it that made me want to try it in the first place.

Relish by Lucy Knisley
A graphic novel memoir. Easy read but fun.

The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec
Learning to cook and falling in love, this is an behind closed doors story of Iranian culture!

Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene
 "A woman does well to be beautiful, mysterious, haunting, witty, rich, and exotic in bed... but it never hurts to cook good." From the old, pre-foodie era of New York City!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quinoa Flour Brownies (lower-carb, grain-free, gluten-free, high-protein)

Note: I do not think these are yet perfect, but this might be a recipe to start from. More of my notes below.

We were cleaning out the flour cupboard (really just a cupboard that had accidentally become so!) and the quinoa flour was about to expire. I hadn't ever used it so poked around for recipes to try, landing on brownies. (Often with new flours, it's either pancakes or brownies I try first.) The cook who posted the recipe mentioned that chocolate helps cover up the bitterness of the quinoa flour, so I thought maybe that would be the best thing to try.

These are pretty dry and dense. I should have at least baked them 5 minutes less. But this 9x9 pan has a stick of butter PLUS coconut oil so there is no reason for this dryness, unless the quinoa flour is just that dense. I'm pretty sure that's the culprit. But for those of us who only eat this kind of baked good, it might be worth trying. Perhaps it can be better enjoyed with low sugar ice cream.

I took the recipe from Making Thyme for Health, who adapted it from another recipe. The recipe below is based on my own adaptation, so you may want to follow the rabbit trail.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F then line an 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly spray with oil and set aside.
  2. Next melt the butter and the coconut oil together. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Using a spatula, stir in the sugar and maple syrup until well combined. Then add the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and continue to stir until smooth.
  4. Add the two eggs and briskly stir with the spatula until the batter is thick and shiny. Then add the quinoa flour and continue to vigorously stir until the batter is smooth, for about 15 strokes.
  5. Lastly add 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the batter and fold together. Pour the batter into the lined baking dish, using the spatula to smooth it out along the edges. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until you can prick a fork into the center and have it come out clean.* Allow to cool for at least an hour before eating. The longer they cool, the better they will hold together. 
*I wish I'd checked at 20! You should too.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Peach Blueberry Biscuit Cobbler

It is peach season in South Carolina! On July 4th, my husband and I went to Strawberry Hill USA to buy peaches. It is along a scenic highway, and is a nice drive from our house. They had several varieties but we went home with a bag of red globe peaches, which seemed sweetest. They are great for eating, sweet and easy to slice up, a freestone variety. Nathaniel sent me an email link to a recipe from TOWN Carolina with the subject line "Yum!" so I marked their recipe for Peach Blueberry Biscuit Cobbler to try. There are so many different varieties of cobblers and fruit dishes - this is a cobbler with full biscuits on top. 

I should have noted that in the photo on the web magazine, there is quite a bit of moisture. I never got this cobbler to the point I wanted it, and had to bake it 15-20 minutes longer than the recipe stated just to get the biscuits past raw. I wish I had cooked some of the moisture off first, but it is possible that if you are using peaches that are not as perfectly ripe and sweet, this will be less of a problem. But fair warning. 

(from TOWN Carolina)

Serves 8–10 


2 lbs. peaches, sliced 
1 pint blueberries 
¼ c. brown sugar 
¼ c. sugar 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 Tbs. lemon juice 
2 Tbs. cornstarch 

2 ¼ c. flour 
1 ½ Tbs. sugar, plus more for sprinkling 
 4 tsp. baking powder 
½ tsp. salt 
10 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
¾ c. heavy cream, plus more for glazing 
½ tsp. vanilla extract 

Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional) 


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
2. In a bowl, toss together peaches, blueberries, brown and white sugars, vanilla, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Pour into a 9-in. cast-iron skillet. 
3. In a different bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, crumbling together until the butter is like sand. Add the heavy cream and stir together with a fork until the dough just comes together and forms a ball. You may need to add a splash or two more of cream to help the dough form. 
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently pat into a smooth circle about 1-in. thick. Using a 3-in. biscuit cutter (or juice glass), cut 8 biscuits out and place on top of the fruit filling. 
5. Brush each biscuit with cream and sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 30−35 minutes or until golden brown and baked through underneath. Serve cobbler warm with ice cream.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bakery/Cafe Review: The South Store Cafe, Hillsboro, OR

I grew up in Scholls, Oregon, which is not really an official place. There is no post office and addresses out there always say Hillsboro. But actual Hillsboro, with strip malls and grocery stores,  is fifteen minutes away. Scholls is hill country, farm country, berries and hazelnuts and lavender. It is the region over the mountain from Newberg. My entire childhood, on the corner of 219 and 210 (officially now referred to as "Hillsboro Highway" and "Scholls Ferry Rd"), was a building called the South Store. It would change hands, and eventually what was a store (the only option in Scholls other than Petrich's, and that was closed several years due to fire) would convert to a cafe or restaurant and change hands several times. I had stopped going in there until I did a search for the best breakfast in Hillsboro and The South Store Cafe kept coming up. My husband and I needed a quick morning escape and decided to try it.

We were there between breakfast and lunch on a weekday, and it was still pretty busy! There are several seating options, from the front space (busier and crowded with the people in line), the backroom (with an entrance to the kitchen), and several outdoor spaces including a covered porch. We sat in the back because there were fewer people there.

Nathaniel ordered a vegetarian breakfast sandwich, and I ordered the bacon-cheddar quiche which also came with thin sourdough toast. Both were delicious! The sourdough is very good.

The baked goods were the highlight for us. You can see all the offerings when you order, in a case to the left. This is a scone topped with strawberry jam. Each day we went there, they also had at least one gluten-free offering, and my gluten-free sister was happy to partake when we brought one home for her!

This passion fruit danish pinwheel was probably my favorite. Passion fruit is one of my favorite flavors, but the pastry itself was flaky and light.

One of the hardest parts of visiting my family is their distance from good espresso, even in Oregon, the land of espresso. What a delight to discover good lattes at this cafe just down the road. After our first visit we may have ordered second espresso and got lattes to go.

The South Store Cafe's owner recently passed away. From what I read about her, she sounded like an energetic force making everything go, and I think she baked too. I am sad we couldn't try the cafe while she was running it, but I have to say, it is running very well now and everything was delicious and perfectly served.

If you live in Hillsboro, Newberg, Tualatin, Tigard, Beaverton, Cornelius, etc. - this is the perfect place to go for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. Scenic drive included! During berry season it will be a lot busier, because the Smith Berry Barn is right across the highway and Rowell Bros. (marionberries, blackberries, raspberries) is just down the road. Plan accordingly!

The South Store Cafe
24485 SW Scholls Ferry Rd.
Hillsboro, OR   97123
phone: (503) 628-1920

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bakery Review: Back to Eden, Portland, OR

The Back to Eden Bakery is a 100% plant-based, vegan, gluten-free bakery on Alberta Street in Portland. My sister is gluten-free and her roommate is vegan, and after moving to Portland they discovered this one place where they could both eat pastries, ice-cream, and smoothies without concern for the contents.

Portland is the perfect place for a bakery like this, and they have really perfected the best ways to make tasty treats without eggs, dairy, or gluten. This is not an easy task, as evidenced by my years of experimenting with some of these recipes and ingredients. The clientele was very diverse, and I couldn't resist taking picture of this declamatory tattoo. She was in the right place.

The menu is extensive and includes lunch. The flavors are local but creative - I could have tried far more items than I purchased. The price is a bit more than you would find for regular bakery items but the ingredients cost more, so they weren't unreasonable considering. I had a cardamom coconut muffin that was light (not heavy!) and multi-textured. My sister got a carrot cupcake because it was her birthday and that's what she wanted! The two women in front of us bought these adorable lavender colored mini-cakes; I'm not sure what they were. I also had a hemp-coconut cardamom latte because I am nuts for cardamom.

One more thing to love about this bakery and many of the establishments I encountered in Oregon - posters and signs declaring that all are welcome, the importance of love, etc. What could be better?

Back to Eden Bakery
Alberta Hours: 8am-10pm Daily (storefront)
2217 NE Alberta St.
Division Hours: 10am-10pm Daily (food cart)
2880 SE Division St.
Phone (503) 477-5022

Monday, May 22, 2017

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Technically, I made this cake the first time back in 2012, when I was still involved in the Daring Bakers and trying to keep pace with their monthly challenges. This simple cake didn't go so well the first time around, and it overflowed the pan I tried baking it in. When I needed something to bring to my book club's annual potluck and book pick party, I thought back to the year. We read one book about the Armenian genocide, and I had made nazook that were not good enough to share for that gathering. I decided to make this cake again, but in a bigger pan!

I put the cake on the table with all the dishes and forgot to take a picture of it. So I snapped this quick photo next to a pile of some of the books we are considering. You can't really see it, but I did notice a few people having multiple pieces (to me: always a sign of success!)

Is it bad to admit that even though I did want to bake for my reading class, the main reason I baked this cake again was to take a better picture of it? I brought another one in to eat while we watched a documentary on the romance novel industry. The cake starts with a crumble, a very unusual method, and half the crumble of flour, brown sugar, and butter gets dumped into the pan and makes a crust. The rest gets whisked with milk and eggs and is more of a coffee cake type batter. Everything is sprinkled with nuts - the recipe said walnuts, I used hazelnuts. It is simple yet delicious. Some of the book club members felt they tasted rosemary but I think it was just a large amount of fresh hazelnut that had a somewhat mysterious taste.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake
(recipe from Jason at Daily Candor)
  • 1 cup milk (whole preferred)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or more) walnut pieces (or another nut)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz (170 g) butter, preferably unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground nutme, freshly grated
  • a springform pan (9"/23 cm should be perfect)*


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Mix the 1 tsp of baking soda (not baking powder; that's for the next step) into the milk. Set it aside.
  3. Sift the 2 cups of flour and 2 tsp of baking powder into a large bowl. One sift is fine
  4. Add the 2 cups of brown sugar. Go ahead and mix the flour and brown sugar together.
  5. Toss in the 6 oz (170 g) of butter in cubes.
  6. Mash the butter with a fork into the dry ingredients (you can also use your fingers if you want). You'll want to achieve a more-or-less uniform, tan-colored crumbly mixture.
  7. Take HALF of this resulting crumbly mixture into your  pan. Press a crust out of it using your fingers and knuckles. It will be easy.
  8. Crack an egg into a mixer or bowl.
  9. Grate 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Toss that in with the egg.
  10. Start mixing with a whisk attachment, or a whisk if you're doing it manually. Once it's mixed well and frothy, pour in the milk and baking soda mixture. Continue to mix until uniform.
  11. Pour in the rest of the crumbly mixture. Mix that well, with either a paddle attachment, or a spatula. Or continue to use the whisk; it won't make much of a difference, since the resulting batter is very liquidy.
  12. Pour the batter over the crust in the springform pan.
  13. Gently sprinkle the walnut pieces over the batter.
  14. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 350F (175C). You'll know it's done when the top is a golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  15. Allow to cool in the pan, and then release. Enjoy!
*Both times, I used a 9x13 pan and it was perfectly baked at 30 minutes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bakery Review: Buttermilk Bakery, Winter Park, FL

On a long drive home from Orlando last weekend, my husband and I stopped first at Buttermilk Bakery. It had been recommended to me by one of the other librarians, and I had been following them in Instagram for a few months. I knew from their feed that they were champions of brunch and laminated doughs, among other treats. I expected there to be a line outside the door, but we got there pretty early and before brunch started, and after the academic year ended, I think. Good timing, anyway.

All the treats are visible where you order, lines of savory and sweet pastries. The loaves of bread available that day were immediately behind the cashier, and they looked amazing. It was incredibly hard to choose, but because we'd had a bit of a sweet overload, we went mostly with savory (but Nathaniel did get one of the cinnamon sugar donuts.) Libby's favorite treat is the kouign aman and I wish I'd tried one of those; I am also regretting not getting a homemade pop tart!

This is the kind of bakery I would want to work in if I had gone that direction in my life. Creative offerings, incredible quality, and I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Scones with Paleo Baking Flour

Most of the time when I am baking low-carb, grain-free, and/or paleo, I use my own flours. This can backfire because I run out of different flours at different speeds, and to end up with a good texture you often need to use more than one in a recipe to replace all-purpose flour. My husband brought home a bag of Bob's Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour, and I used it in two scone recipes to varying success. I thought I would reflect on what worked and what didn't, should you decide to go the same way. This is not a paid advertisement; we bought the flour.

Paleo chocolate chip scone attempt #2 (not as good)

I used two recipes from a tiny cookbook I use for most of my scone baking, Scones, Muffins, and Tea Cakes.  I think I've had it since before I got married in 2000! The first recipe was a buttermilk breakfast scone with more butter and liquid, no eggs. The second was originally a lemon scone with eggs in addition to liquid and far less fat. I replaced the flour called for in the recipe with equal amoutns of the paleo baking flour. The second recipe was dry and lacking in flavor (also partly because I used chocolate chips that weren't as sweet), very disappointing after the first one was firm on the outside and hte texture of cookie dough inside. Underbaked? Maybe, but the outside was brown and I didn't want them to burn. For the second batch I baked at a lower temperature, but they were drier, probably with less fat.

When I'm baking paleo scones from a recipe, I usually depend on coconut oil instead of butter, because it seems to be the best pairing to the dry almond flour, it adds a great deal of tenderness. I really would only call the first recipe of this attempt a success, due to the overly dry nature of the second recipe, so that is the one I will detail below. It is a half recipe of the one mentioned, with a few paleo modifications.

Overall, I think I'll stick with my own flours when I can, because I think the mix is a bit high on coconut flour, while the recipes I'm frequently using aren't adjusted for the amount of liquid needed for that (and Bob's doesn't have a large library of options.)

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip "Paleo" Scones (lower-carb, grain-free)

1 1/2 cups paleo baking flour
3 tbsp coconut sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
6 tbsp butter, cold, cut into small pieces right before adding
1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate chips
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used milk plus lemon juice and allowed to curdle)

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment or spray a scone pan.

Stir the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and rub with fingertips until well blended. Add the chocolate chips. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until blended.

Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. Roll into a circle and cut into 8 wedges (I used a standard scone pan and it filled half the slots, so only 4.)

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Banana Sorghum Bouchons

My husband is a devoted reader of The Local Palate, and showed me an article on southern cakes in the most recent issue. I zeroed in on the recipe for Banana Sorghum Bouchons, because I had overly ripe bananas and sorghum syrup on hand. It is apparently a traditional North Carolina recipe from the mid-1800s.

I did not have a bouchon pan, but the recipe said I could use mini muffin pans, so that's what I did.

Banana Sorghum Mini-Muffins 
(from The Local Palate)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups sorghum
½ cup mashed ripe banana
3 large eggs
2½ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly mist the 12 wells of a mini-popover pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Place butter and sorghum in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat another minute, until creamy. Add banana and eggs, and beat until eggs are combined. The mixture may look curdled. Set aside.
  3. Place flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk or sift to combine. Beginning and ending with flour mixture, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to sorghum batter. Beat only until just smooth.
  4. With a small scoop, drop batter into prepared wells of pan, filling them two-thirds full. Place pan in oven. Bake until bouchons rise and spring to the touch, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, let it rest 10 minutes, then run a knife around bouchons and gently lift them out of pan and onto a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. To serve, dust bouchons with powdered sugar

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hermit Cookies for the Hermitage

I participated in my first silent retreat this weekend. I wanted to bring a snack to share, and found Geoffrey Zakarian's recipe for these cookies in my Pinterest board. They were more relevant than I even knew, since some of the spaces are referred to as the hermitage at Heartwood Refuge.

Hermit Cookies



Special equipment: A piping bag.

For the cookies: Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and molasses together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, eggs and orange zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until incorporated. Add the spiced flour mixture and beat until the dough just comes together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and refrigerate on a plate or baking sheet until firm, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks to the top and lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Arrange the chilled dough balls about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the tops of the hermits are no longer glossy and the edges are firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the glaze: While the cookies cool, mix the confectioners' sugar, egg whites and vanilla seeds in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth and shiny.

Transfer the glaze to a piping bag and pipe stripes onto the cooled hermits. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(notes on recipe below images from the retreat)

The meditation center at Heartwood (or the "hermitage")

Recipe notes:

Traditionally, hermit cookies have some kind of dried fruit in them, instead of chocolate. I have to say that I think Chef Zakarian made a misstep in his variation, because despite the orange zest, the combination of molasses plus dark brown sugar plus chocolate chips just results in a murky flavor. I would pull back to regular brown sugar and add vibrance through dried fruit and maybe a nut, or even some oats. (I probably wouldn't make this actual recipe again, because aside from the murky flavor of the cookies, who wants to deal with egg white for cookies named for simplicity? I didn't.)