The Best Blueberry Scones

I’m not certain whose fault the modern scone is. Should we blame the British for inventing this dry lump of heavy, overly sweet, doughy ickiness? Or did Americans take what once was a delicious sweet biscuit and turn it into a sugary hockey puck? Whoever’s at fault, this recipe will forever change your notions about scones. These scones are flaky, buttery, and not at all heavy. This recipe, which is from Cooks Illustrated, is so wonderful, I will wake up on a weekend morning and spend the first hour of it making these. Glenn and I, who are absolutely ravenous by the time they are ready, are perfectly willing to wait for them. They are that good. 

This recipe calls for grating the butter and then mixing it into the dry ingredients. I know, it seems like overkill, but please trust me. The butter is so perfectly distributed this way, and it ends up leaving little pockets of buttery goodness throughout the scone, which is just, well, hard to describe in words.

Then you roll out the dough like this… 

…fold it like a letter, like this… 

…and fold the edges in like this (using a pastry scraper makes this task a ton easier)

After letting it sit in the freezer for five minutes (allowing the dough to firm so it is easier to work with), roll it out once more, add the blueberries on top, and then roll it up like a sleeping bag. Awww, it’s cute.

Then, cut the log (log?) into four parts and cut those four parts diagonally. Put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush some butter (yes, more butter) on top, and sprinkle (generously) with sugar. If you don’t want to wait that long (or if you’d like to spend your Sunday morning doing something else), just mix together the dry ingredients the night before. It goes much faster that way. And yes, I know blueberries aren’t in season right now, but I cannot go a whole year waiting for blueberries to come back–and I happened to have some frozen from the summer. Yay me!
Tell your family to relax, have another cup of coffee, blame the British for their bad scones, and hang on for a little while. These are worth it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scones Cooling

The Best Blueberry Scones 

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated

10 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, chilled 

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 

1/2 cup whole milk (I usually don’t have whole milk in my refrigerator, so I combine 1/4 cup half and half and 1/4 cup skim) 

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (I use Fage Greek Yogurt) 

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface 

1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 heaping teaspoon salt 

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. 

Grate one stick of butter using the large holes of a box grater (the faster you can do this, the less messy it will be). Put the bowl o’ grated butter in the freezer. 

Whisk together milk and yogurt in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated. 

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6-8 times, until in just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. 

Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer for 5 minutes. 

Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slighly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Brush tops with the remaining butter (melted) and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving (or until you can’t wait any longer, which is usually about 30 seconds for me).

Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins CoolingA friend of mine told me she made apple streusel muffins and won a prize at her local fair. She posted a photograph on Facebook of a beautiful plump muffin covered with sweet streusel topping next to a blue ribbon. I kept thinking about that muffin. Oh yes, it entered my consciousness and made me think of nothing else. I dreamt that the muffin and I ran off together and got married. I kept thinking I’d get the recipe from her, but I never got a chance to ask her was too lazy. Then, one morning, I woke up and HAD TO HAVE THEM. I had apples, I had flour, I had sugar and butter, but I did not have the recipe. Desperate, I looked up any ol’ apple streusel muffin recipe I could find–and came up with an Emeril Lagasse recipe from the Food Network. I made it. It was fine. It was nothing special really. It wasn’t a recipe I’d take home to meet my mom.

Apple Losing SkinThen, this morning I woke up again–apples in the fridge–and had a major, bigtime craving for these babies. Now, I had the recipe, but did not have the correct ingredients. At 7:00 in the morning, I wasn’t about to go to the grocery store. So, deciding I didn’t want to use the Emeril recipe again, I morphed several recipes into a new creation, and here’s what I came up with. Now, this may not win me a blue ribbon at the local fair, but it was quite lovely for a fall Saturday morning and, yes, I would take it home to my mom (cause she’d scarf it down just like me!).  

Apple without Skin

I used gala apples, which are very sweet and stand up well this recipe. Also, I added some shredded coconut. I have gotten into a habit of adding coconut to a lot of my muffin recipes. I don’t know why, but I really love the extra texture and sweetness. And I guess I’m just out of my mind cRaZY and will apparently do just about anything!

Apple Streusel Muffins in BowlAlso, a lot of recipes say to shred the apple. But why? Why would you do that? It makes no sense to me why you wouldn’t want some nice apple chunks in there. I mean, they can’t be too large so that the muffin wouldn’t hold together, but a small, even dice should do. Do not settle for an inferior muffin when you can wait for the muffin of your dreams!

Apple Streusel Muffins Ready to Bake

So, here you have it. It is my soul muffin, and it may be yours as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Streusel MuffinsApple Streusel Muffin and Coffee

1 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 apple, diced

1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 medium muffin cups.

Prepare streusel topping; set aside

Whisk milk, oil, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in apples and coconut. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 2 Tablespoons of topping.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan to wire rack.

Steusel Topping

2 Tablespoons chilled butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut butter into flour, brown sugar and cinnamon using pastry blender or crisscrossing two knives until crumbly.

Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash bread baked

Do you know what I’m waiting for? Sure, I’m waiting for the stuff everyone else is waiting for: peace in the middle east, health care reform, cars that can fly, etc… But what I really really really can’t wait for is for someone to invent the replicator. You know, from Star Trek? Oh, how many times I have wanted to walk up to my replicator window and order up a cup of earl grey tea, hot, just like Patrick Stewart, and have it instantly! And the thing I imagine about the replicator is that whatever you order would be perfect. Your filet would be exactly medium rare, just like you want it. Your hot chocolate would be not-too-hot to drink and not-too-cool you have to throw it in the microwave. Your pizza would have the exact right amount of crispiness around the edges. And your butternut squash bread? Well, the replicator would bake it *all the way* and not take it out five minutes too soon like a mere human such as myself.

Butternut Squash Bread in the Mixer

What has stood between me and bread perfection time and time again? Impatience…about 5 minutes worth, to be exact. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken bread, cake, or cookies out of the oven too early. Sometimes it works in my favor–who doesn’t love an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie or brownie? But with things like bread, you just have to be patient. Let the peak of the bread solidify before you take it out even when you think the edges look brown and ready (Kelsey!).

Other than that little problem, this bread was excellent. The cool thing about butternut squash is that it is practically indistinguishable from pumpkin, so you can substitute it for any recipe you have that calls for pumpkin. I used my mom’s extraordinarily simple and delicious pumpkin bread recipe.

Butternut Squash Bread Baking

This recipe is really no-nonsense: just mix everything up together, pour in the bread pan, and bake. Done. You can add raisins or cranberries, walnuts or pecans, coconut or chocolate chips. Eat it with a slab o’ cream cheese if you want to. Just, please, please, whatever you do…don’t take it out of the oven too early (Kelsey!).

Until my replicator is installed (you know, next to my holodeck and transporter), this will be one of my favorite recipes.

Butternut Squash bread Butternut Squash Bread

makes 2 loaves

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 to 1.5 pounds cooked butternut squash-pureed or at least mushed up really well.

2/3 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

I added about a cup of raisins

Beat all ingredients together. Grease pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or until the peaks are solid–no jiggling!)

Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Banana Ricotta Coconut Muffins

My husband told me the other day about peanuts and Coke. Apparently there are people in this world who dump peanuts into Coke and drink it like that. Am I the last one to hear about this? Am I just too young? Or too Yankee? Isn’t there something in the Bible about not mixing salted legumes with a syrupy carbonated beverage? Yeah, I think it’s in Leviticus. Glenn the blasphemer says it’s delicious and is completely unrepentant about how much of it he drank as a cherubic little blonde southern boy. I can just hear him now saying “Yes ma’am!” and “I’m fixin’ to drink this Coke with peanuts!” He says the saltiness of the peanuts mixes with the sweetness of the Coke, and two things just don’t seem to fit together end up making something that might make a little tow-headed Glenn slap his grandma! And you can’t get more Southern than peanuts + Coke, by the way.

Southerners seem to be really good at this–putting stuff together that just doesn’t seem to fit–and making it taste wonderful. Have you ever heard of mayonnaise cake? It’s sounds downright nasty at first; but if you think about it, mayonnaise has the tanginess and creamy consistency of sour cream. I know I’ve put sour cream in cakes before…haven’t you? So, maybe it’s not such a stretch.  

Mixing Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Last week I had some homemade ricotta cheese left over…just enough to feel guilty about throwing away, but not enough to do much with. So, I decided to try it in muffins. With a little maneuvering to make sure the ricotta was balanced out by a wetter dairy product (um, that would be milk, and “wetter” is not a good word), this recipe came out great. The muffins are so moist and have a slight tang–as if I had added buttermilk or sour cream. The sweetened coconut is an excellent contrast and adds texture. A sprinkle of turbinado sugar (or just regular granulated sugar) creates a nice sweet crunch on top. 

Yes, those are my feet.

 Yes, those are my feet.

 

I don’t care how hot it is outside, these are absolutely worth the 18-20 minutes your oven is on.

   Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins Side Shot

 

 Even peanuts + Coke couldn’t compete.

 

Muffins with Butter part 2