Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I was really excited to see this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick!  Patricia of Life with a Whisk chose one of my favorite recipes in the book--Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones.  This recipe is a good example of why I love to bake and why I love Dorie's books.  One of the best things about her books is that she gives so much more than just recipes.  I love reading all of the stories and tips that she puts in the headnotes.  And almost every recipe includes one or more variations to "play around" with.  I love playing around. =)

The first time I made this recipe was not long after I got my copy of Baking From My Home to Yours and joined the group.  While unofficial, it appears to have been the sixth recipe I made from the book.  My first attempt is shown here, from way back in March 2008.  That was the first time, but there have been many more since.  My girls especially like it when I make them with chocolate chips.  My favorite variation has probably been the cinnamon chip ones.  Besides the chips, I also used white whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose.  There have been times when I didn't have buttermilk, so I substituted yogurt.  And while the version in the book is plain, we almost always top our scones with something, either coarse sugar or most often glaze.  

The glaze came in handy when I made the scones this morning.  I decided that I was going to make them again just for this post, and was going to go back to the original recipe.  It wasn't until I was looking at some of the comments on the Leave Your Links page that I realized that I'd never tried the Playing Around idea for this recipe.  My girls love "dried plums" so that sounded like a great addition.  But I was so busy snipping up prunes with my kitchen shears and supervising Gillian as she mixed the dry ingredients that I totally forgot to add the nutmeg!  Glaze to the rescue--I grated the nutmeg into some powdered sugar, added a bit of vanilla, and added enough milk for a thick glaze.  

One more thing--besides the variations in ingredients, I found it interesting that I've changed one other thing over time as I've played with this recipe.  In the first post mentioned above, I used volume measurements for the ingredients, same as in the book.  By the second post, I'd switched to using weights, in ounces.  Here's the latest incarnation of the ingredient list...

Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
1 large egg
115 grams cold buttermilk
225 grams all-purpose flour
135 grams rolled oats
70 grams vanilla sugar (or just regular)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (unless you forget)
140 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
dried plums (I forgot to weigh them)

Oh, and the verdict?  I really enjoyed these with the prunes.  Gillian did as well, after she got over her disappointment at the lack of chocolate chips. =)  They were well-received at work, too.  I'm sure I'll make these many more times, and who knows what other variations we'll try.

If you'd like to make these for yourself, you can find the recipe on Patricia's blog.  And to see what everyone else did with these scones, check out the Links!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baking for the enemy

One of the side effects of doing lots of baking is that I'm often looking for others to take baked goods off my hands.  It was pretty easy a few years back when I worked with a larger staff--there were always plenty of people willing to eat sweets, even if a few were avoiding them.  With our current staff of 5 or 6, I worry sometimes about bringing things too often.  So I also take baked goods to the day care teachers, and send them to school with Brianna for her teachers.  I try to find other outlets as well, but they don't come up very often.  

Last week I finally had a chance to catch up on one of the recent TWD recipes that I missed--Brown Sugar Bundt Cake, picked by Peggy.  I thought about halving the recipe, but decided to go ahead and make the whole thing, using pecans and cinnamon chips.  I was going to take some to work and to the daycare.  After sampling some cake, though, I only took it to work, so I could keep more at home for us. =)  I haven't seen something disappear that fast in a while--it was a big hit with my coworkers.  The part I kept at home disappeared pretty quickly too, and I failed to take any pictures!  So of course, I had to make it again.  

As it turned out, last week I spent a couple days helping out at another branch, so I decided to take some of the second cake to them.  At one point, someone called from my branch to ask me a question.  The person who answered the phone informed my coworker that they were planning to keep me at their branch so I could continue to bake for them.  When I got on the phone, I was informed that it was not acceptable for me to be supplying baked goods to our "competition."  I had no idea that people were so possessive about cake. =)

The verdict?  My coworkers aren't the only ones who loved this cake--I ate more than my fair share of it.  Part of me wants to try some other variations, while the rest of me just wants to make another one that's the same. =)  I love the whole brown sugar/pecan/cinnamon combination.  This is definitely one of those cakes that just keeps getting better, too.  Not that it survived that long either time so far.  The first time I made it, I asked Gillian if we should add a glaze or just go with it as it was.  Surprisingly, she said we should skip the glaze, and she was right.  The cake is just right without it.  

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but didn't change that much.  As I mentioned, I used pecans for the nuts.  I skipped the almond extract.  Instead of the fruit, I added about 140g of cinnamon chips.  My cake only took 50 minutes to bake.  If you'd like to give this one a try, head over to Peggy's blog for the original recipe.  To see what other fun variations people came up with, check out the Links.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That's how the biscuit crumbles

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is from Lindsay of A Little Something...Sweet!  She picked Maple Cornmeal Biscuits for us to make.  This was a great recipe for me to get back on track with TWD--quick to mix up, and quick to bake.  Gillian was quite happy to help me with the mixing, too. =)

The verdict?  Sadly, I didn't like these as much as I hoped to.  I like cornmeal and maple syrup, but unfortunately, my biscuits turned out kind of dry and crumbly.  I'm not sure why.  The only change I made was to use soured milk (milk plus vinegar) in place of the buttermilk, because I didn't have any. (Oops, never mind. That was another recipe I made over the weekend. These used regular milk.)  Maybe I had too much cornmeal.  Maybe I baked them too long (though it was only 14 minutes).  The flavor was good, so I might play around with the recipe next time to get a better result.  I'm thinking of adding an egg to get a more scone-like texture.

If you'd like to give these a try for yourself, Lindsay has the recipe.  And to see how everyone else fared this week, check out the Links.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


(not pictured - Z-pack and Mucinex)

Just a quick post so all my fellow TWD bakers won't think I've totally disappeared.  This is how I spent my day, at least the part of it that I wasn't at the doctor's office or asleep on the couch.  I've had the same annoying cold for over two weeks.  Since it started getting worse again instead of better, I figured I'd better actually go see someone about it.  (Thanks to Nancy and Abby for helping convince me via Twitter this morning.)  You know it's gotten bad when I voluntarily take time off work--I'm staying home tomorrow, too.  =)

I will catch up soon on the recent recipes that I missed, since I've been reading lots of rave reviews of them.  In the meantime, it's back to the couch for me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's do the twist

I hope all you moms out there had a great Mother's Day.  Amazingly, I got to stay in bed all the way to 7:30am!  It's nice that my girls are now old enough to fend for themselves for a little while in the morning.  They were camped out in Brianna's room, waiting for me to get up.  Unlike last year, they apparently hadn't come up with any sort of plan to make me breakfast.  That's just as well, since last year they neglected to let my husband Jamie in on the plan until the morning of Mother's Day.  =)  Being of sound mind (sometimes, anyway), I had already come up with my own plan anyway, and done most of the work the night before.

A few weeks ago I was at the library with the girls, and decided to wander through the cookbook section.  I'm not as fortunate as my friend Tracey; my library doesn't have nearly as many as hers does, especially newer ones.  But I stumbled across an older book (2008, so not -that- old) that caught my eye.  It was The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread.  I had heard of it because Tracey posted a recipe from it a little while back.  Joanne Chang also mentions Amy's Bread in her book Flour, which is one of my current favorite books.  It turns out that the books are similar--home recipes for bakery favorites.  I like the writing style of both, which is what usually leads me to purchase a cookbook.

Once I had the book at home, I read through the whole thing.  Am I the only one who likes to read cookbooks for fun?  I think the people at work have finally gotten used to me doing it on my lunch breaks. =)  I made mental notes of recipes that I wanted to try sooner rather than later, and the one at the top of my list was the Cinnamon Raisin Twists.  They're made from a sweetened dough that contains cinnamon and raisins.  The dough is layered with some butter and brown sugar and then cut into strips that are twisted before baking.  The recipe can be completed in one day, but I broke it up into two.  I completed the recipe up through shaping the twists, but rather than doing the final rise, I stuck the pan in the fridge for the night.  (The recipe calls for two sheet pans for baking the twists, but I crammed them onto one pan since I couldn't fit two in the fridge.)  On Sunday morning, I took the pan out and put it into my slightly warmed oven so that the final proof wouldn't take too long (it ended up being about an hour since I started with cold dough).  Once the twists were puffy, I took them out, preheated the oven, and baked them for about 25 minutes.  

The verdict?  These are fantastic!  Sort of cinnamon roll meets raisin bread.  The only problem I had was that they were too big for any of the small plates we have. =)  Everyone here loved them.  I ended up taking about half of the pan to work today and they were well-received there as well.

I'm definitely going to make these again.  The book also has recipes for some savory versions.  I have plenty of cookbooks already, but now this one is going to the top of my wish list.  Unfortunately, my library doesn't have the first Amy's Bread book; I'll have to see if I can find a copy at one of our local bookstores so I can see if I need that one, too.  

For lots of other yummy yeasted treats, be sure to check out Yeastspotting and the BYOB bakers.