Here's what happened: First, the phone kept ringing and I forgot to add the cream. Next batch
had an off taste - turns out the cream was sour. I ended up buying a cake from Bradleys!
A: Boy, Judy, you sure had several “derailments.”
Ok, let’s talk. First, let me ask If you went golfing, would you
really expect to play well, if you left most of your clubs in the trunk
of your car? I doubt it. Well, it’s the same thing with baking.
Although you may be able to get away with cooking while distracted, baking
is more precise and requires greater attention. To “set up”
for success in the kitchen, especially when baking, it’s important
to make a habit of checking the expiration dates on your ingredients before
you set out to bake. And, measuring out all of your ingredients
before assembling, and then double-checking against the ingredients list
in your written recipe, will help to avoid accidentally leaving out a
crucial component, thus helping to assure your success.
Now, let’s talk about reality. “Everyday life” for
all of us can be hectic and busy, but doing something nurturing tactile
and homey, like cooking and baking for family and friends, can be the
quickest route to finding balance. The best way I’ve found to be
ready on even the craziest days is to devote a few minutes on a quieter
day to assembling several large batches of homemade dry mixes. So any
time I choose, I can simply scoop from their respective canisters, and
quickly concoct something “home-baked” wonderful. And so can
you! So, click on my recipe for my homemade Baking Powder Biscuit
mix, which is what I also use to make the most delicious Orange-Scented
Baking Powder Biscuit Mix
Yield: the mix fills a 5-pound container (about 7 batches of biscuits or scones)
If you live with finicky eaters, this recipe is
for you! Ever since my children were little, whenever I chose to serve
an entree that could be perceived by kids as "iffy," like fresh fish for
dinner, I'd avoid getting the evil eye by always having these delicious
biscuits parked strategically at the table. If you don't want to fuss
with measuring tools and bags of flour on a hectic weekday (which is when
we could all use a good biscuit...) why not use a few minutes on a leisurely
weekend or on an unoccupied evening to quickly put together this mix.
That way, a fresh batch of tender biscuits is always just minutes away.
14 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Use a whisk to thoroughly combine all the ingredients in an extra-large mixing bowl and
sift this into another large bowl. Whisk again thoroughly, then spoon the mix into a 5-pound
capacity canister with a tight-fitting lid. Store the canister on a cool dry pantry shelf.
Now..to use the above “mix” to make …
Yield: serves 6 to 8
This recipe produces scones that are (as far as my family and friends are concerned) unsurpassed. The biscuit mix has been specifically designed to make scones that are lighter than most with a very tender, slightly cake-like, crumb. If you use my timing strategy at the end of this recipe, you’ll see that making scones is truly a snap!
For the pre-baking glaze:
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the scones:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons orange juice (or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate)
- 1 extra-large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons minced orange zest (the colored part only)
- 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for Single recipe)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
- 1/2 rounded cup dried (but supple) currants
- Unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
- Powdered sugar for dusting or for making a post-baking glaze, optional
1) To set up:
- Prepare the glaze: combine the egg, cream, sugar and vanilla, using
a fork. Pour this through a medium-mesh sieve into another bowl, and
set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a flat (not cushioned)
cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2) To assemble the scones:
- Combine the cream, orange juice, egg, vanilla and zest, in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup.
- Whirl the homemade biscuit mix and sugar in the work-bowl of a food
processor fitted with the steel blade, to combine well.
- Add the currants and pulse, to distribute evenly.
- Drop the cold diced butter into the work-bowl and use the pulsing button, to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal.
- Uncover the bowl and pour in most of the liquid ingredients (reserving only about 2 tablespoons) and, after attaching the cover, pulse, just until the batter seems cohesive (don’t overwork it). If the mixture seems at all dry, add the remaining liquid and pulse it in. (Scone dough should be moist, but not overly wet. If your dough is uncomfortably wet, just use a bit more flour on your hands and work surface.)
- Turn the mass of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with lightly floured hands, knead the dough gently, about 8 or 9 times. Use a scraper, when necessary, to help lift the dough off the work surface, if wet in certain areas.
- Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick round and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
- Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges. Wipe off the knife, after each cut, and sprinkle the blade with some flour. Repeat this cutting procedure, going into the original lines and, when the blade reaches the bottom, rock the blade (by its handle) back and forth to widen the space in between each wedge. Do this several times, if necessary, until there’s between 1/8 and 1/4-inch between the wide part of each wedge. Of course, this space will be much narrower at the center.
- Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour on the dough, then brush the tops with the prepared glaze.
- Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 20 minutes
- Then remove the sheet from the oven and, using a clean, sharp chef’s knife, cut in between each wedge, wiping off the blade after each cut. If necessary, go over your cuts until sure that all the wedges are completely separate. One by one, place a narrow metal spatula underneath each wedge and pull it away from the rest, giving them all total exposure to heat.
- Place the sheet back into the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool the wedges completely, on a rack.
3) To garnish and store scones:
- Before serving, if desired, give the tops of the scones a light dusting of powdered sugar.
- Or, to make a glaze, place 2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of water--just enough to make a very thick mixture that falls back on itself in a ribbon, when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. If too thin, add more sugar and if too thick, add a few droplets more of water. Using the whisk, drizzle the glaze whimsically over the tops of the fully cooled scones. Allow the glaze to set for 1 to 3 hours, uncovered. After that, when no longer sticky, the scones can be individually wrapped. Store scones at room temperature, in an airtight container or individually wrapped with plastic wrap.
4) If you don’t have the pre-assembled biscuit mix: for each batch of scones
- Mix 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk well and follow the rest of the recipe
5)Timing is Everything - For fresh-baked scones first thing in the morning, do this:
- The night before:Line your baking
sheet with parchment paper. Place the biscuit mix and sugar in the bowl
of your food processor and leave it there, with the lid on. Place the
currants in a bowl, on the counter. Cut the butter into dice and leave
it in the refrigerator, covered. Mix the cream, orange juice, zest,
egg and the vanilla together and leave it in the refrigerator, covered.
Assemble your egg glaze and refrigerate it, covered. Place a few tablespoons
of sugar in a little bowl, for sprinkling, and leave it on your counter.
- In the morning : Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the butter into the dry mixture, mix in the currants, add the wet ingredients, and follow the remaining instructions.
Questions for Lauren Groveman's Kitchen:
Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in
many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books
"The I love to Cook
Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and
"Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and
Friends" are available through
Amazon.com. Lauren hosts an hour-long, "live" weekly radio show, Food Family & Home
"Matters," on 1460 WVOX.
For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV &
radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at
Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and
blessed with three wonderful children.