Monday, October 27, 2008

House Guests

Things have been very busy in the Marshmallow household for the past two weeks, and that has meant not blogging as frequently as I had hoped. I'm sorry! We've had house guests for the last two weekends, and being as nit-picky as I am, that means that I want everything to be just so...of course, it never is, but I do try. 
This past weekend our house guests were Hubband's parents, so I (attempted to) pull out all the stops. I tried something new with my go-to apple pie recipe, baked scones, made cannelloni with homemade pasta, and whipped up some of Jude's Honey-Whole Wheat bread to go with my chicken salad. That was before they even got here on Thursday night. During the weekend, I also made a big batch of shirred eggs, Hubband grilled rainbow trout and corn on the grill, and I put together some light and fluffy buckwheat pancakes. We also took advantage of Orlando's large selection of restaurants and dined out two nights. 

Back to the baking: I made scones on Thursday morning, both because I know my guests enjoy them and because there is a scone recipe in my Tartine cookbook that I've been eyeing for some time. It is the recipe for their much-touted buttermilk scones, with Zante currants. I decided to rearrange things just a little, and used dried unsweetened Bing cherries instead, as well as replaced half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour.

The scones baked up moist with a wonderful texture and some flaky layers. It's a little hard to describe these scones; they were dense and substantial, but didn't sit in the belly like a rock the way so many often do. I really liked the addition of the whole-wheat flour, both for nutrition and flavor, and am curious how they would turn out using 100% whole-wheat pastry flour. Next time I would add more citrus zest, and would maybe try orange instead of lemon. 

Buttermilk Scones
Adapted from Tartine

The original recipe calls for Zante currants. I used cherries, but these could easily be made with blueberries, raspberries, apricots, or raisins. If you fresh fruit, freeze it before adding it to the dough so the pieces don't leak juice and dye the dough as you mix. I think that next time, I will increase the amount of citrus zest, but I am listing the original amount here. I find it much faster to place a bowl on my kitchen scale and weigh out all of my ingredients, so those are the measurements I've included here.

100g (3 1/2 oz) Dried unsweetened Bing Cherries 
340g  (12 oz) All-purpose flour
340g (12 oz) Whole-wheat pastry flour
15 mL (1 Tb) Baking powder
3 3/4mL (3/4 tsp) Baking soda
100g (3 1/2 oz) Granulated sugar
6 1/4 mL (1 1/4 tsp) salt
255g (9 oz) Unsalted butter, very cold
375 mL (12 oz) Buttermilk
5 mL (1 tsp) Grated citrus zest 

45 mL (3 Tb) Unsalted butter, melted
Large crystal sugar such as Demerara for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment. If using dried fruit, plump it by placing it in a bowl and adding enough warm water to cover, then let it sit for ten minutes. Sift together the flours, baking powder, and baking soda into the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix, then cut the butter into small cubes and scatter them over the dry ingredients. Pulse the mixer on and off until you have pea-sized lumps of butter throughout the flour. You don't want to break up the butter too much, so keep an eye on it. Add the buttermilk, zest, and fruit all at once and mix gently on low speed until you just have a dough that will hold together. You should still have some visible bits of butter in the dough. Dust a work surface lightly with whole-wheat flour and turn the dough out onto it. Use your hands to gently shape the dough into a rectangle that is 18" long, 5" wide and about 1 1/2" thick. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar, then using a dough scraper or long chef's knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. 

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