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Archive for the ‘quick bread’ Category

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So what exactly is the difference between a biscuit and a scone? It seems to me that scones are just sweet biscuits. I’ve been going through a scone phase the last few months, making batches and freezing them unbaked. It makes for a great weekend breakfast, because there’s basically no work to do. Plus I love scones with coffee and I only drink coffee on the weekends. I know that technically, these aren’t scones. The name says biscuits, but I thought they’d fit right in with the theme.

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They’re made just like any other biscuit (or scone) – mix the dry ingredients, cut (or rub) in the butter, stir in some liquid. In this case, the liquid includes sour cream, which seemed promising because I really like the tenderness of scones made with cream, and sour cream has that same richness.

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The biscuits were just as good as I had hoped. Not only were they light and tender, but I love the flavor of the nuts. I only put jam on my biscuit for the sake of the photograph, but then I decided that it was a great compliment. I’m so glad that I have a few more of these in the freezer, stocked up for a lazy weekend morning.

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One year ago: Chocolate Cream Pie

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

2 cups (9.6 ounces) all-purpose flour (or 1¾ cups all-purpose flour and ⅓ cup cake flour)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup (packed) (1.74 ounces) light brown sugar
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces*
½ cup cold sour cream
¼ cup cold whole milk
⅓ cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt and baking soda together in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between – and that’s just right.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading – 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead another 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about ½ inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even – a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to the cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a ½-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting – just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

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I ran a little test with these muffins. I read somewhere, at some point, that it’s best to grease just the bottom of muffin cups and not the sides. But not all recipes specify this, so I’ve never known how important it is.

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This muffin recipe, which was made by Tuesdays with Dorie before I joined the group, calls for the dry and wet ingredients to be mixed separately before folding them together. Because this is standard muffin procedure, it seemed like a good candidate to test out my question about oiling the cups.

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For the six muffin cups on the outside of the pan (the two outer rows), I sprayed just the bottom of the cups. For the six muffin cups on the inside of the pan (the two inner rows), I sprayed the entire cup.

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As you can see, the difference is striking. The muffins baked in the bottom-only sprayed cups rose taller and rounder. The muffins baked in the thoroughly sprayed cups have flat tops. My theory is that those muffins rose evenly on all sides, where the muffins baked in cups with unsprayed sides were held down at the sides and could only rise in the middle.

copy-of-img_2197left – whole cup sprayed; right – bottom only

Unfortunately, there’s another significant difference between each set, and that’s in how easily they came out of the pan. No one will be surprised to hear that the muffins in the completely sprayed cups were far easier to remove. The others needed a bit of prying around the edges before I could get them out of the pan, although they all came out cleanly.

For me, the extra few minutes to get the muffins out of the pan are worth it for the beautifully domed tops. (Of course now I’m wondering if there was a difference in texture. If there was, I didn’t notice.) And if the prize after carefully removing each muffin is these tender orange-scented treats studded with juicy blueberries, all the better.

copy-of-img_2198left – whole cup sprayed; right – bottom only

One year ago: Rice Pudding

Orange Berry Muffins (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours)

The only change I made was doubling the salt. However, you can see that my muffins got a little too dark. I know my baking pan has a dark finish, but I’ve never had problems with muffins before, so you might want to lower the oven temperature a bit, or at least check the muffins earlier than the recommended 22 minutes.

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About ¾ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
⅓ cup (2.33 ounces) sugar
2 cups (9.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries – fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)
Decorating sugar, for topping (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

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Ah, my sad little gingerbread photos. I had some issues with a tiny step in this recipe that I normally would have just ignored. “Butter the pan.” Pshaw, who butters their pans these days? Nonstick spray, baby!

Since I needed 7⅓ tablespoons of butter for the portion of the recipe that I was making, I figured I would just use the other ⅔ tablespoon to butter the pan. (I used an 8-inch square pan for ⅔ of the recipe.) Then when it came time to remove the cake from the pan, I got stubborn when it stuck. The damn cake would be coming out of the pan!

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Um, yeah, that was dumb. It came out, all right, or about half of it did. The other half, the bottom half, was holding on tight to the pan. I quickly shoveled the broken cake pieces back into the pan and they melded together nicely. If I had been able to resist tasting the cake (through a forkful dug out of the middle), no one would have been the wiser.

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Fortunately, the taste of the cake made up for the troubles. Dave and I both really like gingerbread, and although I had my doubts about combining it with chocolate, in the end I thought it was a good match. I enjoyed the chunks of chocolate in the cake, even though they all sank to the bottom. The bittersweet chocolate glaze was great too. My cake was a little dry, but it’s entirely possible that I overbaked it by a few minutes. Still, next time I’ll use twelve tablespoons of butter instead of eleven (for a full recipe). And I most certainly won’t use butter to grease the pan.

Heather, who chose this recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, has the recipe posted.

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Obviously I like baking desserts along with the Tuesdays with Dorie group every week, but you know what else I like? Every once in a while, it’s fun to choose my own dessert. Revolutionary, I know. I always get excited when I see a savory recipe chosen for TWD, because that leaves one extra dessert recipe that I get to pick out for myself.

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These corn muffins have three types of pepper in them – red pepper, jalapeno, and black pepper. Other than that, it’s a fairly typical cornbread recipe where the liquid and dry ingredients are mixed separately before being folded together. I made the muffins mini, because my mini muffin pan is new and fun.

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I thought the muffins were really good. There were a couple members of the group who didn’t like how sweet they were. I understand there’s a battle between sweet and not-sweet cornbread lovers, but I’m a solid member of the sweet crowd, so I thought the flavor of these was great.

Rebecca will post the recipe.

One year ago: Banana Cream Pie

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Didn’t I just make muffins? And wasn’t I talking about how I was still on pumpkin? While it’s true that I haven’t moved past pumpkin, I’m definitely excited about cranberries too. Especially cranberry and orange together.

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Seven or eight years ago, I went through a health nut phase where I pretty much eschewed white flour. (You can imagine that that lasted for, like, a week.) I at least substituted half whole wheat flour in most recipes, especially quick breads. I’ve apparently reached a complete turnaround. This recipe calls for 100% whole wheat flour, and I came very close to substituting half of that with white flour.

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But I stuck to the recipe, and I am so glad I did. These muffins rocked, even though I didn’t have quite the right amount of egg (long story), I used traditional instead of quick-cooking oats, and I skipped the glaze. I’m not a huge fan of glaze on muffins – they don’t take to freezing as well, plus it seems too cupcake-like. I also changed the order that the ingredients were added, just like I did with the pumpkin muffins. I added the sugar with the wet ingredients and the zest with the dry ingredients.

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The muffins were nice and light, not at all heavy from the whole wheat flour. The orange flavor was pronounced, which I liked, and the bits of cranberry were perfectly tart and even juicy. All that using 100% whole wheat flour. 2001-me would have been so proud.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

I used traditional oats and didn’t notice any problems, but I could see how quick-cooking oats would incorporate into the dough better. I skipped the nuts because I didn’t have any. I used butter instead of oil. I also skipped the glaze.

Makes 12 muffins

1½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup buttermilk powder or nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs
⅔ cup (4.67 ounces) sugar
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Glaze
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, oats, milk powder, baking powder, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg until broken up. Add sugar and whisk until combined. Whisk in butter (or oil) and milk.

3. Add cranberries and nuts, if using, to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add milk mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together. Do not overmix.

4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.

5. If using glaze: In a small saucepan or the microwave, stir together the glaze ingredients. Bring just to a boil, to dissolve the sugar. Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the glaze.

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This is one of those recipes that’s unabashedly multigrained. The multigrains aren’t sneaking in, trying to pretend this is a regular pancake recipe that just happens to be a little healthier. No, these pancakes are multigrain all the way.

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They’re also, possibly, my favorite pancakes ever. I’m finding that I really enjoy recipes that have whole grain as the primary flavor.

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The ingredient list is a little long for pancakes, and the food processor has to be used to grind up the muesli. I won’t lie that I think that’s a hassle, so what I’ve started doing is grinding the whole box of muesli at once (minus the small portion that’s added to the pancakes unground). That makes the effort involved with making these similar to a regular pancake recipe.

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I don’t always serve these with the apple topping; they’re just as good with maple syrup. But it’s November and apples and cranberries and nuts just seem appropriate. Not only does the topping make these pancakes even more delicious and special than they already are, but it adds a nice serving of fruit to an already fiber-rich breakfast. You can’t beat that.

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Multigrain Pancakes (from Cooks Illustrated November 2006)

Serves 4 to 6.

CI note: Familia-brand no-sugar-added muesli is the best choice for this recipe. If you can’t find Familia, look for Alpen or any no-sugar-added muesli. (If you can’t find muesli without sugar, muesli with sugar added will work; reduce the brown sugar in the recipe to 1 tablespoon.) Mix the batter first and then heat the pan. Letting the batter sit while the pan heats will give the dry ingredients time to absorb the wet ingredients, otherwise the batter will be runny. Unless you have a pastry brush with heatproof bristles, a paper towel is the best means of coating the pan surface with oil. Pancakes will hold for 20 minutes when placed on a greased rack set on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven. Serve with maple syrup or Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Topping.

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups whole milk
1¼ cups no-sugar-added muesli (6 ounces), plus an additional 3 tablespoons
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3¾ ounces)
½ cup whole wheat flour (2¾ ounces)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil

1. Whisk lemon juice and milk together in medium bowl or 4-cup measuring cup; set aside to thicken while preparing other ingredients.

2. Process 1¼ cups muesli in food processor until finely ground, 2 to 2½ minutes; transfer to large bowl. Add remaining 3 tablespoons unground muesli, flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine.

3. Whisk eggs, melted butter, and vanilla into milk until combined. Make well in center of dry ingredients in bowl; pour in milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined (few streaks of flour and lumps should remain). Do not overmix. Allow batter to sit while pan heats.

4. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon oil and brush to coat skillet bottom evenly. Following instructions below, add 1 tablespoon batter to gauge temperature of pan. Pour ¼ cup batter onto 3 spots in skillet, using bottom of ladle to spread batter smooth if necessary. Cook pancakes until small bubbles begin to appear evenly over surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on second side, 1½ to 2 minutes longer. Serve immediately. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing surface of pan lightly with oil between batches and adjusting heat if necessary.
Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Topping for Pancakes (from Cooks Illustrated November 2006)

Serves 4 to 6.

CI note: The test kitchen prefers semifirm apples such as Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn for this topping. Avoid very tart types like Granny Smith and soft varieties like McIntosh.

3½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 sweet apples (medium), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 4 cups) (see note above)
Pinch table salt
1 cup apple cider
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¾ cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse

Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in cider and cranberries; cook until liquid has almost evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and cook until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and remaining butter; whisk until sauce is smooth. Serve with toasted nuts.

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I’ve been on the lookout for a pumpkin quick bread recipe for a couple of years. I like quick breads to have some textural contrast with add-ins, but I couldn’t think of anything that seemed to fit with the flavors of the pumpkin. Of course Dorie could, as Kelly’s choice for this week’s TWD recipe made evident.

Dorie adds raisins and walnuts (or pecans) to her pumpkin muffins. Like I almost always do, I replaced the raisins with something else; in this case, dried cranberries. I wasn’t sure if the flavors would get along – they’re both common fall ingredients, but I don’t often see them together. I topped the muffins with pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds. I’m not sure why Dorie calls for sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds seem so perfect for these muffins.

The muffins were good. The walnuts and dried cranberries were fine as additions. However, shortly after I made them, one of my friends told me about a pumpkin muffin recipe she makes that has a lot of ginger in it, and then it occurred to me that the perfect add-in for pumpkin muffins is crystallized ginger. Now I’m looking forward to trying this combination.

Dorie’s recipe is posted on Kelly’s blog.

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I haven’t made plain pancakes in a very long time. I guess, to me, it’s like eating bread – sure it’s good plain, but it’s so much better with Stuff. For pancakes, that Stuff mostly involves fruit. You could make lemon pancakes and put the blueberries right in them, but why not do something different with those blueberries and make a syrup out of them?

This is another Emeril breakfast recipe, and this one, I made more complicated instead of simplifying it. Emeril’s blueberry syrup is just a combination of blueberries and corn syrup, which I think sounds too one-dimensionally sweet. I have a recipe for blueberry syrup that I’ve been making for a long time that I’m really happy with, so I made that one instead, even though it involves a few more ingredients.

You can see that my pancakes came out a little thin. I’ve been experimenting with Saco powdered buttermilk, since I don’t generally keep liquid buttermilk around. The recipe uses the same ratio of flour to milk that most pancake recipes do, so I don’t think the pancakes are thin because there’s too much liquid. I think the powdered buttermilk reconstituted with water as per the instructions on the container create a thinner liquid than regular buttermilk.

But I don’t mind thin pancakes, and you really can’t go wrong with a lemon-blueberry combination. The syrup is great – the sweetness is balanced by a spritz of lemon juice and pinch of salt, so the flavor of the blueberries can shine.

Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup (adapted from Emeril Live)

Serves 3-4

Pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest, finely chopped
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, cut into 10 equal slices

Blueberry Syrup:
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 cup blueberries
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

For the pancakes:
In a small mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and butter until fully incorporated. Add the sifted ingredients to the milk mixture and whisk until it is slightly smooth, but still has some lumps. Fold in the lemon zest and allow the batter to sit for a couple of minutes. Lightly grease a griddle over medium heat. Cooking in batches, pour ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot griddle for each pancake. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the batter bubbles and is golden brown, flip over and continue to cook until golden brown. Repeat the above process with the remaining batter. Stack the pancakes on each serving plate. Place a pat of butter between each layer. Drizzle the pancakes with the syrup and garnish with the confectioners’ sugar.

For the syrup:
Bring ½ cup water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch until cornstarch dissolves. Add cornstarch mixture to sugar mixture and stir to blend. Stir in blueberries and boil over medium heat until berries start to pop and syrup turns blue, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and butter.

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Dave’s been eating muffins everyday, which is good for me because it gives me an actual reason to bake. Plus, I buy enough bananas for Dave and I to each eat one per day, but I’m so freakin’ bored of bananas that I never eat mine. I eat batter or dough instead. Did I mention that I bake a lot?

If I’m going to be making banana muffins constantly, I figure I might as well make some interesting ones. The recipe for these banana coconut muffins has a lot of great reviews on epicurious, which is always a good sign. Also, Dave likes coconut more than I do, and since I do all of the cooking for us, I don’t think he gets to eat it as often as he’d like.

I was really happy with the muffins. I can never resist eating one after I bake them, even though I’m making them for Dave to bring to work. They were light and tender and flavorful, with a good balance of banana and coconut flavor. Some of the coconut shreds on top of the muffin fell off, so next time I’ll pat those into the batter a bit. Other than that detail, these were perfect.

Banana Coconut Muffins (from epicurious.com)

Makes 8

1¼ cups (6.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (¾ cup)
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
⅔ cup (4.65 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and ½ cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup coconut. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

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Apple and cheddar is a combination of flavors that I’ve heard about often but had never tried, so I was happy that Karina’s choice of Apple-Cheddar Scones for this week’s TWD recipe would give me that chance. Also, while I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a sweet or savory recipe, I served it with soup for dinner, which means I actually got to choose my own dessert to make last week! How exciting.

I made the full recipe, a rarity for me, and froze most of the shaped scones. The recipe came together with no hitches, although the dough was a bit stickier than I was expecting.

Although we ate these for dinner twice last week, situations beyond my control prevented me from enjoying one fresh from the oven. However, they were great even at room temperature. They were very light and tender.

That being said, I’ll tweak the recipe a bit for the next time I make it. Most importantly, I double the salt, because I kept hoping for just a bit more flavor from each bite, and this recipe calls for significantly less salt than most other biscuit recipes. I’d also cut the cheese into tiny squares instead of grating it, because I think the flavor almost gets lost when it’s evenly mixed in with the flour. I want little bursts of cheddar flavor. And I might increase the apples a bit, because I didn’t get as much apple flavor as I wanted either.

But they were still really good. I’m glad I have four more in the freezer. I’m also more interested in other apple-cheddar recipes now.

Karina has posted the recipe.

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