Certain weeks, this week for example, I struggle to post even once. I’m typically not confounded by the culinary piece (although I can get frustrated when a day-long recipe results in an inedible flop), but by this part – the header, the “intro”, the story behind the recipe. Often, I’ve cooked (and eaten) my creation days, if not weeks, before I hit upon a header for the recipe, if ever. Many dishes never make it to publication.
Last night, “D” and I were batting around fictional “intro” ideas for these scones (baked last Sunday) that included a faux picnic featuring these scones at last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert (à la Sunset Magazine) and another story involving Jared Kushner, Russia meetings and his desire for sweet scones vs. savory.
Unfortunately, in my world, the truth behind the recipe is never that compelling.
I baked these savory scones for no other reason than I wanted kitchen time. The flavor combination idea (a classic) resulted from watching a rerun of The Great British Baking Show. Originally, I was imagining a yeasty swirl bread, loaded with a filling of bacon-cheesy goodness when I hit upon the idea of scones instead. Using my favorite sweet scone recipe as a base, I decreased the sugar, swapped sweet ingredients for savory and, voila – buttery, savory scones.
Granted, the Kushner-Russia connection would have been more interesting.
I’ve taken my favorite American scone recipe and turned it savory and loaded with flavor. With three sticks of butter in the dough, no additional butter is needed on these babies.
8 strips bacon, cubed
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 ¼ cup buttermilk, divided
1 whole egg
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add green onions to bacon grease in pan and sauté until softened. Add onions to bacon and cool both. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until butter is pea-sized.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup buttermilk. Beat in whole egg until well combined. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and gently combine with your hands until dough barely comes together. Add bacon, green onion, and cheddar and gently combine. The secret to flaky scones is not to overwork the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes until scone are golden brown. These scones are best served slightly warm.
9:30 p.m.: I’m ravenous for a snack, but I really must eat healthy for a change. Damn, I need to grocery shop – there isn’t a healthy morsel in the house. Oh wait, is that canned tuna way back in the cupboard? Tuna is healthy – all those Omega 3’s. I could whip up an easy tuna salad. Yawn, plain tuna salad bores me. Perhaps a tuna salad sandwich instead? Ugh, I’ve run out of bread. No matter, I can bake a quick white loaf. Flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar…oh wait, here’s a bag of plump raisins. Forget the white loaf; I should make cinnamon raisin bread instead! Yum!
11:30 p.m.: Mmm…there’s nothing better than thickly-sliced toasted cinnamon raisin bread slathered in melted salted butter. Healthy what?!
1 cup very warm water (115⁰ – 120⁰ – this is warmer than normal yeast activation temperature)
3 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water to soften and drained
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or white sugar
In the bowl of the mixer, add two cups of bread flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, yeast, and salt (yeast and salt should not touch as salt can retard yeast activation). Add water and 2 Tablespoons melted butter and combine on low to medium speed. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour until the dough is moist by not sticky (you may not need to add the entire cup). Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 450⁰. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Combine remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Punch the dough down. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch square. Brush the dough with the remaining Tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and drained raisins. Lightly press raisins into dough.
Roll up dough, jellyroll style, pinching the ends closed. Place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Brush beaten egg over top of loaf, sprinkle with salt and turbinado sugar. Bake in 450⁰ oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰ and continue baking for about 30 minutes more. If the top of the loaf is brown, cover with foil until loaf is fully cooked. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a rack. Slice, toast, slather with butter, and push the guilt away until tomorrow.
Once you’ve eaten your first handmade tortilla, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing. The results are tender and slightly sweet and earthy. And once you realize how easy they are to make with the right equipment, you’ll never want store bought again. Although you can use a rolling pin, I think a tortilla press is essential to make the process go quickly. I keep a bag of masa harina in my kitchen so I always have the ingredients on hand. As a snack, I enjoy these tortillas warm and slathered with salted butter.
Although you can use a rolling pin, I think a tortilla press is essential to make the process go quickly.
1 cup masa harina (Available in most well-stocked markets. I use Maseca brand)
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup hot tap water
In a small bowl, mix the masa harina and the salt together. Pour in the water and stir to until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes so the masa fully absorbs the water.
While the dough rests, cut 10 pieces of parchment paper approximately 7.5” x 7.5”. (I re-use my parchment for more than one batch.) Roll the dough into 9 equally sized balls. If you are using a scale, each ball should weigh 1⅛ ounces.
Place a piece of parchment on the bottom of the tortilla press. Place a dough ball in the middle and cover with a second piece of parchment. Close the press about ¾ of the way and then open the press (your tortilla should look slightly fat), flip the entire tortilla with parchment over and close the press completely. (I’ve found flipping the tortilla before closing the press completely results in an evenly flat tortilla). Peel the top parchment from the tortilla. Stack the tortilla and bottom parchment to the side. Continue pressing and stacking tortillas.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Do NOT add oil to the pan. Carefully peel each tortilla from the bottom parchment by flipping the tortilla over into your hand and peeling off the parchment from the top. Gently place the tortilla into skillet. Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook 2-4 tortilla at the same time. My 12” skillet holds three perfectly without touching.
Cook for about 2 minutes per side until the edges begin to curl up and a few brown spots are visible on the bottom. (I find cooking tortillas is a lot like cooking pancakes – the first few don’t have the perfect texture/coloring, but things get better as you go along). The tortillas will be a little dryer than standard tortillas, but they will soften as they rest.
Stack cooked tortillas on a plate and cover with the clean towel you used in step 2. This will keep the tortillas warm and the steam will help the tortillas to soften. Serve tortillas immediately. If you refrigerate them, they can be gently warmed in a damp paper towel in the microwave.
Over 20 years ago, a young woman traveled to Sedona and stayed, on recommendation, at Don Hoel’s cabins. They were a cluster of small cabins near Oak Creek, looking a bit tired, but still cozy and homey, each with a kitchen, fireplace and a separate bedroom.
12 years later, she returned to Sedona and the first lodging she considered was Don Hoel’s. She was disappointed to learn she couldn’t reserve a cabin – the owner was selling and the cabins were closed. She stayed just down the road at Junipine, at a place that was neither cozy nor homey. During that trip, she drove past Don Hoel’s and saw the large “For Sale” sign across the closed gates. Even then, she daydreamed about buying it. The place was big – over 20 acres, with 20 cabins and a market. Her thoughts on the matter stayed in the daydream world.
The woman is back again. The place is now renamed, owned by a young couple for the past 5 years . They’ve polished the place up, adding the much needed character, and turned it into a little gem. The woman, who is not so young anymore, is envious. Again, she thinks “I could do that” and this time she doesn’t consider it just a daydream.
My sister was inconsolable upon hearing I was forgoing the annual labor-intensive holiday gibassier this year to try my hand at almost-as-labor-intensive Christmas marzipan stollen. If that fruit-studded yeast bread didn’t pass muster, I’d receive coal in my stocking for sure. Fortunate for me, it was a holiday triumph:
Stollen #1 – Christmas morning; devoured an entire loaf with my sister while sipping bittersweet hot cocoa
Stollen #2 – Boxing day; another loaf bites the dust with cappuccinos
Stollen #3 – Sent home with sis; consumed in 3 days
Stollen #4 – The last one; left on my doorstep for her to pick up later today
Yeah, it was a hit. Although, I’ve promised to bake gibassier for Easter.
– 120 grams all-purpose flour
– 80 grams water
– A small pinch rapid-rise yeast
– 350 grams all-purpose flour
– 55 grams whole milk
– 3 packages rapid-rise yeast (minus the small pinch)
– 50 grams sugar
– 53 grams egg (about one large egg)
– 8 grams salt
– ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and cardamom
– ¼ teaspoon of allspice and nutmeg
– Grated lemon zest from ½ lemon
– Grated orange zest from ½ orange
– 275 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
– All of the sponge
– All of the soaker
– 75 grams candied orange peel (homemade or high quality)
– 75 grams candied lemon peel (homemade or high quality)
– 198 grams (7 oz.) of marzipan, divided lengthwise into four pieces
The night before: Combine the soaker ingredients in a bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
The night before: Combine the sponge ingredients in another bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 hours.
Heat the milk to 105-110 degrees, add the yeast, stir and let set for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker, peel and marzipan. Mix in slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 5 minutes.
Continue mixing at medium speed until the dough comes together around the hook and no longer sticks to the sides and bottom of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Add the soaker and peels and mix by hand until they are evenly distributed through the dough. The fruit/peel to dough ratio will be high.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes in a warm location.
Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into four even pieces, pre-shape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
Shape the loaves into blunt end batards (country loaf shape). With a wooden spoon handle placed lengthwise and just off center, press down firmly making a long trough. Roll the marzipan into a rope about ½ in shorter than the batard and place in the trough. Tuck the sides of the dough up around the marzipan and fold the smaller section of dough over the longer and seal well (it should look like a hoagie roll when finished). Pick off any fruit on the outside to avoid it burning. Place batards on parchment-lined insulated baking sheets (two per sheet). Cover and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm humid location.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. You will need steam during the initial phase of baking, so place a shallow pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape and carefully remove the water. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. You will need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning.
While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter and dredge them in granulated sugar. When cool, sift powdered sugar over the loaves. Leave the stollen out overnight to let the loaves dry and the sugar crust up a bit.
To store, wrap tightly in foil at room temperature. Stollen should be allowed to rest for at least 4 days so plan accordingly.
To serve, unwrap, re-heat stollen in the oven, dust with additional powdered sugar if needed, slice and enjoy.