Search Results for: apricot scone

Thumbprint Scones

Thumbprint scones filled with sweet-tart, creamy lemon curd.

Imagine your favorite thumbprint cookie, but blown up to the size of a tender, crumbly scone.

That’s what these pastries basically are. They also boast the unlikely name of “Thugs-‘n’-Harmony.”

They’re from the new cookbook, “The Sugar Cube” (Chronicle Books), of which I recently received a review copy.

Author and baker Kir Jensen gave up her fine-dining career path to sell her handmade treats out of a food truck called the Sugar Cube in Portland, Ore. instead.

Jensen, who worked at Trio in Chicago and Florio Bakery in Portland, offers up 50 recipes for cupcakes, cookies, tarts, muffins and candies. Her treats are homespun meets kick-ass. They’re familiar, but given newfangled spins, as well as playful names such as “Twisted Toll House” cookies and “Beta Believe It” smoothie.

You can make these scones as simple wedges. But why, when you can make over-sized thumbprints instead? Fill them with your favorite jam or lemon curd, as I did.

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Apricot Muffins with a Topping of Crunchy Goodness

Sweet, salty, tender and crunchy -- that's what these apricot muffins are like.

Sweet, gooey caramel with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Skinny jeans with a billowy top.

And the gregarious jock with the shy, bookish girl next-door.

Plain and simple, opposites attract.

Why? Because in the immortal words of Tom Cruise to Rene Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” they complete one another.

The same can be said about the best baked goods. If there’s soft, there ought to be crunchy, as well, to provide added contrast and greater interest.

When I decided to bake a batch of muffins the other week, using summer apricots fresh from the farmers market, I knew I wanted the tender treats to sport not only a crunchy top, but one that was both a little sweet and a bit salty.

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You Won’t Believe How Much Ginger Is In This Scone

Tender, cakey ginger scones to start your day with.

You all know by now that I have a thing for ginger.

Big time.

So when I spied this recipe for “Ginger Scones” in the Los Angeles Times’ food section last year, it was only a matter of time before I made these lovelies.

They tempted me with their 1 cup of diced crystallized ginger, and their 1/2 pound — yes, you read that correctly — of fresh ginger.

Just how much fresh ginger is that exactly? See that pile below? All of that — yes, indeedie — went into making a mere 10 scones.

A whole lotta lovely ginger.

Don’t let that scare you. It may seem like a lot of ginger, but I promise that your throat will not be ablaze. This is no four-alarm bowl of chili. This is far more nuanced and measured. It’s subtle heat that merely tickles.

The recipe comes from Chef Hans Rockenwagner, who bakes these scones at his Rockenwagner Bakery in Los Angeles and 3 Square Cafe + Bakery in Venice.

The scones bake up crisp on the outside. The interiors are not crumbly like traditional scones, but more tender, moist and cakey in texture. Bite into one, and you get the sugary-tingling hits of candied ginger immediately, followed by a warm, soothing, noticeable yet surprisingly moderated burn of fresh ginger at the every end.

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Apricots — In the Morning (Part 1)

Memories of dried apricots.

Whenever I bite down on a baked good bursting with orange flecks of sweet-tart, chewy dried apricots, I can’t help but think of family road trips.

It makes me think of a time, ensconced in the back seat of my parents’ car, when I’d get all giddy as we pulled into the parking lot of the original Nut Tree in Vacaville. It was the perfect spot to take a break on trips to Sacramento to visit family friends or to Lake Tahoe, where my family used to rent a cabin in the summer. You could fill up on lunch, beverages, or even take a mini train ride. What it meant most to me, though, was getting my hands on a loaf of apricot nut bread.

You’d find the tea cake loaves stacked on a counter, wrapped in paper and plastic, and tied with a fuzzy string of orange yarn the same color as the apricots. There was a date nut bread, and a blueberry one, too. But my family’s favorite was always the apricot.

We’d buy a loaf — or two — and carry it home, where we’d enjoy a slice for breakfast, dessert, or an anytime snack. It was tender, moist, crunchy with nuts, and bursting with tanginess here and there from the pieces of stone fruit. It’s remains my first — and fondest — memory of dried apricots.

Back then, a car trip was something special, as plane tickets for a working-class family of five were a stretch. I guess that’s why dried apricots inexplicably make me think not only of family, but of adventures and travel, sort of like my own edible Eurail pass.

The Nut Tree closed long ago. Although there’s now a Nut Tree Theme Park, I’ve never stopped at it. And I doubt the nut bread is still part of the repertoire.

Flaky, buttery apricot scones.

You could say that “Apricot Flaky Scones” from Flo Braker’s “Baking for All Occasions” (Chronicle Books) cookbook are not at all like a Nut Tree nut bread. They aren’t, except for the fact that they do have jewels of dried apricot pieces throughout a crispy exterior and a fluffy, buttery interior. They also have nuts — in this case, pistachios. Like my nut bread of yore, the scones also are not overly sweet, making them a nice way to start the day without an over-bearing load of sugar.

Braker gives precise directions for folding the dough into thirds like a business letter, so that the scones end up slightly puffed and layered inside. And they do. She says to cut them into thin, small wedges to create 14 scones. I like my scones a little wider, so I cut the dough into a dozen instead.

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Take A Whiff and A Taste of The Violet Bakery’s Ginger Molasses Cake

A cake that smells of Christmas.

A cake that smells of Christmas.

 

For some people, their favorite kitchen scent is onions and garlic sauteing in a hot pan.

For others, it’s that yeasty smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.

For me? It’s that intoxicating fragrance of warm winter spices — cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Loads of ginger.

That’s why this cake had me at first smell and at first bite.

“Ginger Molasses Cake” is from the new “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s written by Claire Ptak, a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, who moved to London to open her Violet Bakery in 2010. Jamie Oliver has called her “my favourite cake maker in the whole world.” So you know she has it going on.

VioletBakeryCookbook

The recipes in this lovely cookbook are arranged by time of day with treats such as “Yellow Peach Crumb Bun” for morning, “Olive Oil Sweet Wine Cake” for the afternoon, and “Chocolate, Prune, and Whiskey Cake” for the evening.

As you can tell, these are baked goods that don’t try too hard. They aren’t complicated with loads of unusual ingredients. They don’t take and arm and a leg, and a whole day to make. Instead, they tantalize with their homespun yet precise character.

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