Sunday, February 1, 2009

Baking Update

Update on those almond scones... a definite success! I found (and starred on Google Reader, my new favorite tool ever) this recipe on the excellent blog Lottie + Doof, which Tim adapted from Dorie Greenspan. Unfortunately, my camera battery decided to be on the fritz for my first blog picture attempt, but I did freeze eight of the pre-baked scones per Tim's suggestion and promise to capture their delightful image soon. I'll post the recipe below- as I've said, I am NOT a baker but I'm trying, and this was my very first attempt at scones from scratch. I love almond flavor in any form, and these have the perfect amount- not too cloying and not too faint. My only suggestion would be to really press the sliced almonds on top of the formed dough scones- those suckers are very prone to falling right off once baked.

Now that I think about it, I think that these scones are only the fourth thing that I've ever baked "from scratch" as an adult (not counting cookies and such growing up, because that was supervised and my input was usually just bowl-licking), and thankfully all of them have turned out pretty decently. The first that I can remember was chocolate peppermint cookies for my first holiday season in D.C. During this glorious pre-law school time, I was always searching for a post-work activity (besides happy hour) and decided to bake Christmas cookies as gifts for my friends and co-workers. I don't remember much about how they turned out, but I don't think there were any complaints. However, I still have the bag of peppermint candies used to make the topping- anyone know how long those things last??

The second attempt was this summer, when I decided to make a peach and blackberry cobbler with crystallized ginger biscuits (recipe from Bon Appetit's July 2008 issue). It was my first venture at using my new, gorgeously blue Kitchen-Aid mixer (light of my life! Or definitely my kitchen) and if I do say so, a rousing success. I remember yelping in delight- "I made DOUGH!"- once the mixer had worked its magic and I was rolling out actual biscuit dough on my authentically floured wood board- I was baking! It's the small things, I guess. In any case, that cobbler was amaaaazing and I can't wait to break it out again this summer.

Baking success #3 was almost an epic FAIL, but thankfully saved at the last minute. My friend Lillian was planning her New Year's Eve get together, and I decided to try Amanda Hesser's recipe for meyer lemon sable cookies from her book "Cooking for Mr. Latte" (one of my absolute favorites, as evidenced by its completely battered and stained condition- oops). Amanda suggests making the cookies a couple days in advance, if you can resist eating them entirely, in order to let the lemon flavor fully develop. So I decided to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon making the dough- went through all the steps, lovingly wrapped the tubes of dough in plastic wrap to rest in the fridge, ate a crapload of the dough scraps from the mixing bowl, defended said dough-eating against my boyfriend's concerns that it contained raw eggs- "there aren't any eggs in the recipe! I don't know that works, but it tastes great!", and plopped on the couch to review the recipe for the next steps. "Hmm... did that, did that, good, great... 4 egg yolks. Oh crap." Having no baking experience and definitely no advice from Amanda on what to do if you make the dough without any egg yolks, I had no clue how to remedy this screwup. So I decided to just pretend I hadn't already beat the hell out of the dough, dumped the cold rolls back in the mixing bowl, added the egg yolks (side note- I love separating eggs. I think doing it successfully makes me feel all chef-y and professional, which I am far from in reality), and mixed them into the dough. Praying that I hadn't overbeaten or abused my poor cookie dough, I put the logs back in the fridge and hoped for the best. In some baking miracle, they actually turned out great- lemony little gems with a nice hint of sea salt. But yeah... I think that episode demonstrates why I like to think of myself as a cook and not a baker. I like improvising, which there is very little room for in baking, and that very slim margin of error for things like "oops! forgot the eggs!" is certainly an obstacle for me. But hopefully the more I try, the less hilarious errors like that I will make.

So, that brings us back to the almond scones and their recipe- here you go. Thanks to Tim again for the inspiration and the recipe!

Almond Scones

  • 1 cup blanched almonds (whole, slivered, or sliced), toasted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cold whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the toasted almonds in half. finely grind 1/2 cup in a food processor or blender with the sugar, taking care not to overgrind the nuts and end up with almond butter. Finely chop the other 1/2 cup of almonds.

Stir the egg, cream, milk and almond extract together.

Whisk the flour, ground almond/sugar mix, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the

butter and, using your fingers toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, rub the butter with your fingers into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-sized pieces, and some smaller pieces.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t overdo it. Stir in the chopped almonds.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn in with a wooden spatula 8-10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that is about 5 inches in diameter, cut into 6 wedges and top each wedge with slices almonds if using. Place them on baking sheet.***

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until their tops are golden and firm-ish. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

***Once the scones are cut out and on the baking sheet you can also freeze some or all of them before baking. Simply put the tray of scones in the freezer and wait until they are firm. Put the frozen scones in a freezer and you’ll have fresh warm scones whenever you like. Do not defrost, simply put the frozen scones on the a parchment lined baking sheet and add a couple of minutes to the baking time.


  1. I love the new blog!!! I'm going to put a link to your blog on mine. And you KNOW I love the name -- I can never get too much bacon in my life.


  2. I love your new blog! How you have time to do this is beyond me! Last time I made Chocolate Rad cookies, they had been baking for 10 min when I spied the cup of chocolate chips still on the counter, so it happens to the best of us!! Can't wait to read about what you make next weekend!

  3. I love your new blog, especially the name! Now instead of asking you for recipes I can just check out this site. And I am pretty tickled that my name made it into one of your posts already!

  4. As you know, "blogging" (is that a word) is new to me, so I'm thinking what a great way to keep up with "what's cooking" in your life. Great name with a humorous read.
    I feel the same as you about the baking now I'll have to give these scones a try.

  5. Mmm...scones. Have you tried making these?
    ( It's amazing and highly recommended!!! :-)

    - Lesley

  6. I am in heaven, a blog about food, cooking, and all written by YOU!

    Am so excited to see this progress!

    Can't imagine where you get this interest from....

    So proud of you ! Hope you will try out the best of the best when you visit home!

    Love you - Mom

  7. Omg so totally have been there with the eggs.......cept when i broke them into the dough....i learned my lesson cuz one was rotten:( I now break all my eggs separately into a diff bowl!
    Glad to know they still came out great even with forgetting the eggs tee hee! GREAT blog and ur not too far from me there in DC!