Search Results for: apricot scone

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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Recipe Index

Appetizers and Snacks

Beverages

Beef and Veal Dishes

Breads, Buns, Rolls & Biscuits

Breakfast Dishes

Cakes, Cheesecakes & Cupcakes

Chicken and Poultry Dishes

Cookies, Brownies & Bars

Desserts (Miscellaneous)

Egg & Cheese Dishes

Ice Creams & Sorbets

Jung Family-Related Recipes

Lamb Dishes

Muffins & Scones

Pasta, Noodles, Rice & Grains

Pies, Tarts, Crisps and Cobblers

Pizza

Pork Dishes

Salads

Sandwiches

Sauces, Rubs, Condiments, Dressings, Pickles & Preserves

Seafood

Side Dishes and Vegetable Dishes

Soups

Tofu Dishes

Afternoon Tea at Craftsman and Wolves, Boozy Otter Pops & More

Not your ordinary afternoon tea at Craftsman and Wolves. (Photo by William Werner)

Craftsman & Wolves’ Spin on Afternoon Tea

When the very creative Pastry Chef William Werner decided to offer up a new afternoon tea at his Craftsman & Wolves patisserie in San Francisco, you knew it wasn’t going to be the usual staid cucumber sandwich affair.

Instead think apple gruyere scones, buckwheat crumpets, clotted cream and olive oil curd.

Not to mention beet root madelines and salt cod with brioche.

Choose either a pot of Naivetea’s oolong or tisane to go along with it all.

The menu will change with the seasons.

Afternoon tea, available Monday through Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., is $22 per person or $40 for two. Reservations are recommended by calling (415) 913-7713.

Some of the creative sweets and savories served with tea at Craftsman and Wolves. (Photo by William Werner)

Veteran San Francisco Chef Carlo Middione Hosts Two Special Dinners

Long-time Chef Carlo Middione and art connoisseur Daniel Friedlander are teaming up for two nights of wining and dining amid magnificent artwork in an 1908 landmark building in San Francisco, Oct. 18 and Oct. 20.

Middione who for decades owned the stellar Vivande and Vivande Porta Via, both in San Francisco, lost most of his senses of smell and taste four years ago following a car accident in which his small sedan was broadsided by another vehicle. Despite that, he’s still able to cook rather magnificently, as evidenced by the lunch he cooked for me when I profiled him two years ago for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Merry Marzipan

A basket of warm scones full of sweet marzipan nubbins.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to warm scones that hide little nubbins of sweet marzipan.

How’s that for a holiday gift to bring a smile bright and early?

“Marzipan Scones” is a recipe from the new book, “Baking Style” (Wiley) by noted baking authority Lisa Yockelson, of which I recently received a review copy. The book is full of  recipes for homespun cookies, breads, muffins and cakes  that just make you want to turn on your oven and spend an afternoon baking your heart out.

These scones are quite unusual. They look like bread and taste like cake.

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