Sunday, April 17, 2011

Baking 101

The other day I held a mini-baking class for my friend, Lisa. I didn't think to take photos because I was more worried about the tower of baking pots and pans crashing onto us (an empty oven is prime storage real estate) while we were trying to prep our recipe. We managed to bake without any major organizational disasters and made basic cream scones from the recipe that I posted here.

It was interesting to see the process through the eyes of someone who doesn't normally bake. I discovered that the most challenging parts of the scone recipe were cutting the butter into the flour mixture (because why would anyone ever do that otherwise) and shaping the dough into one giant scone in order to cut it into individual pieces (the dough has a tendency to be a little crumbly until it is gathered together). Both steps could worry the novice baker that they might not be doing something right.

All's well that ends well. I think that Lisa was surprised at how quickly it all came together and that she owned all of the necessary tools to make the scones, except for a pastry blender which you can pick up for a few bucks. The one pictured below is from Williams-Sonoma and sells for 10 bucks, but you can find one for a little less.

From Williams-Sonoma

I decided to try out this chocolate scone alternative because a.) I had never had a chocolate scone before and b.) there can never be enough chocolate at breakfast. They turned out to be quite delicious though, dare I say, they could stand to be MORE chocolatey! I do love the idea of wrapping and freezing the scones individually for baking in future weeks. I think I might do that in the future when I make my regular scone recipe. Also, I think that I would cut these square scones into triangles so that you get 12 scones rather than only 6. They are pretty massive and must be about a million calories each. That's just my unprofessional opinion. Off to the gym!

Chocolate Scones
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
5 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large whole egg + 1 large egg yolk
½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Sanding (or demerara) sugar, for sprinkling

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Fold in the chocolate.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the whole egg and ½ cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until the dough just comes together.

3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently pat into a 18-by-3 inch rectangle about 1-inch thick. Using a sharp knife or a pastry wheel, cut the rectangle into six 3-inch squares (you may cut these squares in half into triangles to make 12). Place the squares about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the dough is very firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. (At this point you can freeze the unbaked scones in a resealable plastic bag until ready to bake, up to 3 weeks. I wrapped each individually in plastic wrap and placed in the plastic bag in order to bake one at a time at a later date. You can then place the frozen scones directly into a preheated oven.)

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk with the remaining tablespoon heavy cream; brush over the tops of the scones and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the sugar on top of the scones turns golden all over, or a cake tester inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They are best eaten the day they are baked. Makes six to twelve.


SPinneo said...

Wow. So when are we going to scrape ourselves up and finish the proposal?


stacy said...

Mmmm, chocolate. It's what's for breakfast!

WendyB said...

That looks sooooo good.