Rhubarb Cream Scones

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A wonderful seasonal recipe that results in tender yet flaky scones. The addition of heavy cream and egg to the mixture increases the amount of fat in the dough making them richer and softer on the inside than their British counterpart. Always remember to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid a tough or cakey scone!

Scones:
160g rhubarb
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

300g (2½ cups) all-purpose flour, cold
65g (5 Tbsp) granulated sugar
15g (3 tsp) baking powder
¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
½ lemon zest
85g cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
240ml (1 cup) cold heavy cream
1 large egg, cold
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping:
1 small egg
½ tsp granulated sugar
pinch of fine grain sea salt
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

1. Mix the rhubarb and sugar in a small bowl and let it sit for at least an hour (you can do this overnight too).

2. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cubed cold butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (alternatively, you can use a food processor to cut the butter). Strain the rhubarb from any liquid and toss in the flour butter mixture.

3. In another bowl, beat the cold heavy cream, egg, vanilla. Add this to the flour and butter mixture and fold gently just until all of the flour has been moistened. Do not overwork the dough. Dump the dough out on to a large piece of parchment paper and gently pat the dough out until it’s about 1″ thick rectangle.

4. Transfer to a large baking sheet and let it rest for 15 minutes in the fridge. Cut the dough into 9 squares using a knife and space them out on the baking sheet. You can freeze the dough at this point before baking if you are planning to make these a few days in advance.

5. For the topping, beat together the egg, granulated sugar and salt. Lightly brush the tops of the dough with the mixture being careful not to drip on the sides (this will prevent the scones from rising). Wait for one minute to set then sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake for 15 minutes rotating halfway until the scones are golden brown.

6. Rest the scone for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes, Serve warm the same day.

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Blueberry Lemon Scones

Blueberry-Scones

Dreamy blueberry lemon scones with a perfect balance of crisp exterior and light soft center.

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They’re buttery, flaky, tart yet sweet, delicious, and so easy to make. In fact, these scones are ready in less than an hour– baking time included. I love how fast they come together although they might seem like a lot of work (which is a good thing if you’re trying to impress your friends).

I’ve had my share of failed scone recipes: too chewy, cakey, dry, or crumbly.  And I learned that the method of making scones is important because it affects their texture. So here are a couple of things to keep in mind when making these:

  • All your ingredients should remain cold. No exception! Butter cubes have to be freezing!
  • Whatever you do, do not overwork the butter. Kneading softens the butter and converts the protein in the flour to gluten, which results in chewy scones. So work fast and handle the dough as little as possible.
  • Place the tray of scones in the refrigerator before baking to ensure that they remain cold. Cold dough in high oven temperature result in flaky tender scones!


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Blueberry-Scones3Pair them with fruit jam, clotted cream, or whipped ricotta honey spread… my weakness.

Lemon Blueberry Scones (adapted from Pastry Affair)

Ingredients:
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
Zest of 2 small lemons
Pinch of salt
8 tbsp. (113g, 1 stick) butter, cold and cubed
60 ml (½ cup) heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, cold
1 cup frozen blueberries (or freeze fresh blueberries to hold their shape while baking)

3 tbsp. melted butter
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or two knifes), cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse sand.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy whipping cream and egg then pour into flour mixture.
4. Mix until it just comes together as a dough.
5. Transfer dough to a work surface covered in parchment paper and form into a shallow rectangle (about 1”/2.5 cm thick) using your hands.
6. Press ½ cup of blueberries into the dough.
7. Using the parchment paper, fold the dough in half along the long side. Shape again into a rectangle and press remaining blueberries into the top of the dough.
8. Using the pastry knife, cut dough into four equal rectangles. Then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 8 scones.
9. Place scones on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush tops with melted butter. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon turbinado mixture.
10. Place tray in the fridge for 15 minutes.
11. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Zopf (Swiss Bread)

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There is something very therapeutic about baking bread, all the mixing and kneading gets me in a good mood. I was intimidated at first from the idea of making bread from scratch because most of us are used to the store bought ones. But you’ll be surprised at how easy it is! I even took pictures of every step to facilitate the process of explaining this recipe.

Zopf is a rich and flavorful bread that is excellent with butter, jam, or cheese. Its name literally means “braid” in German. It is also ideal for sandwiches because it doesn’t contain sugar and it’s very soft and light.

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The first thing you need to do is sift the flour onto a working surface, make a well in the center, and add the yeast, soured cream, milk, egg, butter, and salt.

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Little by little, work the dough into a ball and start kneading.

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When I’m too lazy I use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough for 20 minutes (Remember the more you knead the dough, the more the gluten will develop, and the softer the bread!)

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Wait an hour for the dough to rise.

6

Divide the dough into three equal parts, then shape into thick ropes.

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Braid the ropes, pressing together the ends.

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Using the same plastic wrap that was used earlier, grease it with olive oil and cover the dough (to prevent the dough from drying)

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Bake for 40 minutes, and you’re done!

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I’m going to talk about the ingredients that are used in this recipe and explain their role in making the perfect Swiss Bread:

  • Yeast is an essential ingredient in bread making and there are two types you can choose from: fresh yeast (a firm, moist block stored in the refrigerator), or dry yeast (small granules– sold in packets). Once the yeast comes into contact with flour, the billions of microorganisms begin to nourish themselves from the sugar of the starch molecules. So they multiply and produce carbon dioxide which gives a fluffy texture to the bread. That’s why raising the dough is one of the most delicate phases in the preparation of bread, and it should be placed in a controlled warm environment (you can use your oven).
  • Olive Oil prevents the dough from drying and forming a crust
  • Salt is crucial to the flavor of bread. It shouldn’t come in contact with the yeast during the initial phase of mixing because it compromises the rising. You can make a small well for the salt in the outside portion of the mound of flour and add it at the last minute.
  • Herbs, Oats, or Dried Fruits give a great aroma and taste. You can add them to the dough before it is left to rise or after the first rising

Did you ever try baking your own bread? I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments!

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Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours for rising. Baking time: 40 minutes.

Ingredients: (adapted from Classic Breads)
Juice of Half a Lemon
2/3 cups (150 ml, 5 oz) cream, lukewarm
5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp (30g) fresh yeast or 3 1/3 tsp (10g) dry yeast
2/3 cups (150ml, 5 oz) milk, lukewarm
1 large egg, room temperature
7 + 3/4 Tbsp (110g) softened butter, cut in small pieces
2 tsp (12g) salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the cream and let sit for 5 minutes. (The mixture will thicken)
2. In the meantime, sift the flour onto the work surface, make a well in the center, and add the crumbled yeast.
3. Steadily pour the milk and the soured cream mixture into the center of the well and mix with your fingertips to dissolve the yeast.
4. Add the egg, the softened butter, and the salt (pour the salt outside of the well- explanation above).
5. Mix and then knead for 20 minutes (you can also use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook)
6. Place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour in the oven. The dough will double in size.
7. Transfer the dough to the work surface and, without kneading it, shape into a ball and then divide it into three parts of equal weight.
8. Shape into thick ropes.
9. Lightly flour the work surface and lay the ropes out in front of you lengthwise.
10. Join them at one end and then braid. Finish by pressing together the three ends.
11. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap greased with oil and let rise for 50 minutes.
12. Brush with the beaten egg. You can enrich the bread by patting on oat flakes, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
13. Bake in an oven preheated to 355F (180C) for 40 minutes.

Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake

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My sister turned 25 this past weekend and she came all the way from Switzerland to celebrate her birthday with friends and family. And what was I supposed to do the day before her birthday? Oh yes. Bake my first layered cake. Did you think that I was going to let my mother buy a cake from a patisserie?

I always bake vanilla or chocolate cakes for birthdays, so I decided to try something completely new. I found this gorgeous Strawberry Shortcake recipe at The Candid Appetite. I must admit, I really enjoyed looking (gawking) at the step-by-step pictures. They were really helpful in understanding the process of whipping up the cake batter, baking it into two separate pans, making the syrup, then perfectly assembling the cake with whipped cream and strawberries. I read the whole post twice and I thought– hey this is easy, the cake will be done in no time! Well it was not that drama free. It took me about 4 hours to finish everything, but then again it is my first time baking a layered cake that I’ve never tested before– for a birthday party. I only had this one chance to make it perfect. You see, I don’t have all the equipments: just one mixing bowl, and one 23 cm (9 inch) cake pan. So I had to clean the mixing bowl about 3 times and bake the cake batter in two separate batches…  It’s definitely easier to have all the baking equipments and your ingredients ready before starting.

The sponge cakes required beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form then folding them into a sugar/egg yolk mixture. I’m so happy that they came out beautifully on my first try! Next, I had to evenly brush the Rum Syrup on the baked cakes. It might seem like a lot of syrup at first, but it really gives the cake a great flavor, so don’t skip this step! For the whipped cream, I put my metal whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure that the cold cream will whip up perfectly. Then I swathed the sponge cakes with dollops of whipped cream and slices of deep red strawberries. I finished it all off with more strawberries at the top (you can also add sliced almonds on the sides of the cake). Yum. It’s a really light and slightly sweet cake, perfect for the spring season!

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No birthday should pass without a fine bottle of champagne (Not bad huh?).
I thought it would be nice to share with you all a few pictures of the cake.

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Ingredients: (adapted from The Candid Appetite)

Sponge Cakes (yields two 23 cm-9 inch cakes)

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 cup (200 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140 gr) cake flour, sifted (I used a substitute here)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 4 cups (600 gr) of fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced (reserve 8 whole berries for the top)
  • 2 cups (90 gr) sliced almonds for decoration (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 160 degrees Celsius (325 F)
  2. Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.
  3. Start by beating the egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored.
  4. Beat in sugar gradually.
  5. Add water and vanilla extract.
  6. Mix in the sifted cake flour/ or its substitute (above)
  7. In another bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add salt. Beat mixture until whites form stiff peaks.
  8. Fold the whipped egg whites mixture into yolk mixture, carefully, so as to not deflate the egg whites. Do not over-mix.
  9. Pour the batter into two 23 cm / 9 inch pans lined with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cakes to cool on a cooling rack, then invert the cakes.
  12. Place one of the layers on a serving plate or stand. Brush on the Rum Syrup (recipe follows) evenly and heavily onto the first layer. Dollop with a spoonful of the whipped cream (recipe follows) and spread evenly over the cake layer. Arrange the strawberry slices over the cream. Top with another spoonful of cream and spread once again.
  13. Top with the second layer of sponge cake, and brush with more of the Rum Syrup. Place a large dollop of the whipped cream. Spread out evenly over the top. Using an offset spatula cover the cake completely with the whipped cream. Smooth it out, removing any excess cream.
  14. Cover the sides of the cake with the sliced almonds. Arrange reserved strawberries at top of cake. Store in the fridge.

Rum Syrup (yields 1 cup)

  • 1 cup water (250 ml)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 gr)
  • 1/4 cup rum (60 ml)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and the water over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove pan from heat, and stir in rum.
  5. Let cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled completely, the syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Whipped Cream (yields 3 cups)

  • 3 cups (750 ml) very cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (80 gr) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large mixing bowl, pour the heavy cream and mix on low-medium speed for several minutes.
  2. Once the cream has frothed and slightly thickened, add the sugar and vanilla.
  3. Continue to whip on medium-high until soft peaks form. Don’t over mix or the cream will turn buttery.