Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Best Friend - The Joy of Baking!

While the weather has been uncooperative with my baking needs, a few cooler days have enabled me to bake away! And where did I turn but to the Bible of baking -- otherwise known as the Joy of Baking. Here are some slightly altered (due to the inventory of my kitchen) versions that have made me feel at home lately.

Egg and Cheese Biscuits

I made half a batch of biscuits with the following:

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 T. sugar
1/4 c. (55 g.) cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Whisk together flour, bp, salt and sugar. Cut butter into cubes and blend into the flour--I used my floured fingertips--until crumbly:

Stir in egg and milk. (I gently whisked these together and reserved 1 T. for the egg wash) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Roll dough to 1/2 inch thick and cut out 6 circles (I used a glass). If there is extra dough, (or you prefer to roll out thinner) make more circles and stack 2 tall (this is great for pulling the biscuits apart for sandwiches). Brush with egg wash and bake on greased and floured baking sheet (or use parchment paper) at 400F or 205C for 10-15 minutes.

Add a fried egg (lightly coat a pan with cooking spray, cook the egg over low to medium heat and flip after the bottom has cooked, adding salt and pepper to taste) and top with a slice of your favorite cheese!

Scones with Jam

Once upon a time a young girl went to Scotland with a broken heart. What made her smile again? Scones. It's just not possible to be sad with a scone in your hand...add jam and you'll forget everything.

2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c. (75 g.) cold unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten (Optional - 1 egg for egg wash)
zest of a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. heavy cream + 1 T for egg wash
jam to taste

Whisk flour, sugar, bp and salt. Cut butter into cubes and blend into the flour until crumbly. Stir in the lemon zest. Combine cream, egg and vanilla and mix into the flour. (I didn't want to use an additional egg for the egg wash so I reserved a spoonful of the beaten egg). Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half and roll out each half into a circle about 8 inches round. Spread jam (1/4 c. per recipe) on one half and sandwich with the other half, somewhat sealing the edges. I used a great blackberry (rana) jam that I found for a good price at a dietica.

Cut the circle into 8 wedges (don't worry that the jam oozes out) and brush (I used my finger) with the egg wash--mine consisted of the spoonful of egg and about 1/2 T of cream. I baked these on a butter-greased and floured baking sheet for only 12 minutes because I couldn't keep my oven at a steady 190C or 375F. I've learned to stack 2 baking sheets together to keep the bottom from burning in my firey oven. I mixed a t. of sugar with the tiniest bit of warm milk, sprinkled on top and popped back into the oven for 2 minutes.

Old Friends

Not to be forgotten, these recipes are tried and true.

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
from SugarBar

When I first arrived in Rosario, I didn't think I would make these muffins again until I saw another American summer. Blueberries were incredibly expensive (18 pesos) but now they've gone down to just 5 pesos. So I jumped at the chance to make a familiar recipe. Next time I'm going to try to add in strawberries and raspberries to create a version of Ladybird Bakery's tri-berry muffin. But I have to start off slowly here, I created enough confusion with this simple blueberry concoction. Is it cake? dessert? merienda? when do we eat it? Poor Argentina, deprived of muffins and all things brunch. I'm here to help.

2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. superfine sugar (best but regular sugar will work too)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. buttermilk (or you can use a substitute of 1/2 c milk and 1/2 T lemon juice)
1 c. blueberries, tossed lightly in flour

Whisk together flour and bp, set aside. Beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add a beaten egg to the milk and gently mix into the butter mixture. Add the next egg. Slowly add flour mixture and fold in the floured blueberries.

This is a lot of batter but it makes 6 supersized muffins. I used paper cups back home but I could only find a funny-shaped silicon muffin pan (with higher cups than normal) here so I buttered and baked directly in it. I must say that I had better results when I had superfine sugar, buttermilk, and a normal muffin pan but they still taste delicious, with gloriously crunchy tops, and remind me of a warm Brooklyn morning.

Start with oven pre-heated to 200C but drop to 190C when you put the muffins in. Bake for 25 min then reduce to 180C for another 5 minutes.