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Monday, October 13, 2014

Cherry Citrus Scones

Paddy and I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland in the beginning of September. It was a great vacation and so good to spend time with the family...most of which was spent in the kitchen at Paddy's house (built in 1650!!), keeping warm by the cooker (which still burns turf), drinking tea, and eating scones. Paddy's mom made a fresh batch of scones about every other day and the smell of them in the oven would wake me up in the morning. Is there a better way to start the day?? Needless to say, when I came home, I was missing her scones dearly and decided to bake a batch to keep on hand. Ina Garten's is one of the better scone recipes I've tried - they're extra light and fluffy (sometimes scones can be dense, dry, and hard). I've changed a few things and this is my version, which by the way, is half of her recipe. This makes about 8 to 10 2-inch round scones. These freeze really well and if you keep to the directions of only rolling them out to about 1/2-3/4 inches, you can pop them in the toaster to defrost and warm up!

2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour 
2 tbsp sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp grated grapefruit zest (could sub orange or lemon but grapefruit is my favorite!)
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream (or milk if you don't have cream)
1 cup dried cherries (you could sub cranberries or any other dried berry)
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water or milk, for egg wash

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 2 cups of flour, 2 tbsp of sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. 
3. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. Combine the dried cranberries and 2 tbsp of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Use a cookie cutter or a juice glass to make 2-3 inch rounds in the dough. Place the scones on a cookie sheet.

5. Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar (don't skip these last steps!), and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Salted Caramel Pepitas

It's fall and I'm all things pumpkin. No, I don't do pumpkin lattes buuuuut, pretty much anything else. I saw this on Food52 the other day and had to make it. My mom thinks it's better than pumpkin pie. I don't know if I could forgo pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving but this is pretty damn yummy. I ate about half of it this weekend all by myself. Pregnancy strikes again...

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder  
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon  
1 tsp freshly nutmeg 
1/4 tsp ground cloves  
1 cup plus 2 tbsp pumpkin purée 
1 cup vegetable or canola oil  
1 1/3 cup sugar 
3/4 tsp salt  
3 large eggs,yolks and whites separated
Frosting and caramelized pepitas (pumpkin seeds0: 
9 tbsp butter, divided, at room temperature 
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (1 block of Philly)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
Pinch of cinnamon  
1 tbsp sugar 
1/2 cup salted pumpkin seeds (raw or toasted)  
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter that, too.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and set aside.
3. Use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer to combine the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt.
4. With mixer on medium speed, add the egg yolks one at a time, waiting for one yolk to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, turning off the machine as soon as the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Whisk the three egg whites until they are frothy and white. Fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula until they were no longer visible (but be careful not to over mix). Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake on the center rack in the oven. Begin checking the cake after 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, or until the cake is pulling away from the pan, before inverting it onto a wire rack.
6. To make the frosting, beat together 8 tbsp of the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered and beat until the frosting is smooth with no dry traces of sugar. Add a pinch of cinnamon, and beat the frosting until incorporated.
7. To make the pepitas, caramelize 1 tbsp of sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until it is a rich reddish-brown color. Avoid over-stirring, which can turn the mixture dry and crumbly. Once the sugar is dark and fragrant, add the last tbsp of butter and stir quickly until it has melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir until they're evenly coated in sauce. Transfer the seeds to a plate lined with parchment paper so that they cool and harden.
8. When the cake is completely cool, frost just the top and sprinkle with the seeds. You'll have extra frosting and I'm suuuuure you'll find something to do with it (like eat the rest with a spoon until you're sick).