Rank lists are in, 20 days until Match Day! That’s all I’m going to say about that — you can go ahead and read more about it if you like.
I want to share with you one of my oldest, trustiest recipes. These scones redefine the way you think about scones. Most people hear the word and imagine a softball-sized chunk of dry, crumbly carbs that are hardly worth the extra coffee you need to drink to choke them down. No, these are totally different: they’re small, flaky, buttery, and so worth the 30 minutes it takes to make them. They are the perfect way to get a house full of people to appreciate you, and all you have to do is hit the snooze button 3 fewer times.
These guys originally call for an egg wash to make them very pretty to photograph, but in my experience a batch does not last 25 minutes out of the oven, so who cares what they look like. Save your egg for something useful, like dropped in a bowel of ramen or baked into a cake or fried on a burger or one of the other 9274857 amazing things we as humans have figured out we can do with unfertilized chicken ova.
recipe: cream scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, currants, or mini chocolate chips
6 Tbsp cold butter
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus another 2 Tbsp
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in your fruit of choice (or chocolate). Grab a pastry blender and cut the butter into the dry mixture, until the butter pieces are about the size of peas.
- In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Pour into the flour mixture and toss with a fork to combine.
- Knead gently and briefly to bring the dough together in two equal portions. Shape each into 4-5″ rounds and slice into 6 triangles for a total of 12 scones. Arrange on the baking sheet, with equal spacing between each scone.
- In the bowl that held the egg yolk mixture, add a couple more tablespoons of cream and stir to pick up any extra yolk. Brush this mixture over each scone, then sprinkle some sugar over the tops. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden or the scones no longer look/feel raw. Let cool for a couple minutes before enjoying warm.
After so many failed attempts at making yeast-risen bread in college, I was convinced I just didn’t have that magic touch. Home-baked bread was a thing of legends, and people who could throw together beautifully crusty, golden loaves were all-powerful sorcerers as far as I was concerned. I labeled myself as “yeast-challenged” and shrugged off all urgings to try again for a long time.
I attempted babka a little while ago, the pain of multiple failures now distant enough to forget. The thing never rose, of course, and ended up tasting a lot like someone painted a cardboard box with chocolate and sugar. Crazy-frustrated, I turned to the internet and spent an entire afternoon reading about yeast. Tuuuurns out a little understanding can go a long way — a week later I kvelling all over my gorgeous new challah-baby.
Everyone likes their challah a little different… which I guess is a much blander way of saying that everyone likes their challah as close to their grandmother’s version as possible. My family’s chewy, sweet, dunk-it-in-tomato-soup challah comes out to play every year at Rosh Hashanah, but it’s a circular behemoth that isn’t too practical in my tiny kitchen. I’ve scaled it down and altered it a bit so it works better as a stand-alone bread, but you’re doing it wrong if you don’t use at least some of it for french toast and grilled cheese.
(that extra egg wash makes a biiig difference)
adapted from my grandmother’s recipe, with help from alexandra’s kitchen
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 cup warm water
4 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp water
- Proof yeast by combining with sugar and warm water in a small bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a large bowl, measure out 1 cup flour. Pour in proofed yeast mixture and stir until smooth, then cover with a towel and let rest in a warm spot for 45 minutes.
- Add to the sponge the oil, honey, 2 eggs, salt, and cinnamon, and mix well. Stir in 3 cups flour until the dough is a sticky mass. Turn onto a floured surface and knead well for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as you go to prevent sticking. The dough should be smooth.
- Take a clean large bowl (maybe have your
kitchen elf boyfriend wash the bowl you used before?) and drop a bit of canola oil to lightly grease it, then add the dough ball and turn over to coat. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down the dough, add a few drops of oil to coat, and let rise again for another hour.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal segments, giving them a good squeeze to get the big air bubbles out. Roll each of the segments into a tapered rope, roughly 16″ in length. Braid however you want, but I like this method the best.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F, stack two baking sheets on top of each other (this prevents the bottom from burning), and line with parchment. Place the braid on the parchment and whisk together the remaining egg and water. Brush the challah with the egg wash and let rise on top of the preheating oven for 30 minutes. Repeat the egg wash and place the challah in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the challah is golden and beautiful.
Know what the best part of dating a pescatarian is? When you hike a 4600-foot mountain together, camp on the shores of a lake, spend the evening stargazing from a split log three feet above the water’s surface, practically fall down the mountain in the morning because your legs don’t work, and then order the Adirondacker for breakfast at the General Store…
…he gives you his bacon.
My friends, it doesn’t get much better than that.
He’s still cavorting around the mountains for a little while, so I’m here baking myself my 107% favorite quiche. The crust is baked with pancetta and will give you superpowers. Like the ability to finish off an entire 9-inch quiche by yourself.
Recipe: caprese quiche with pancetta crust
- 4 oz pancetta/bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 7 tbsp butter, cold
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 6 oz low-moisture mozzarella
- 3 small plum tomatoes
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- salt & pepper
- Fry pancetta in a pan until fat is rendered. In a large mixing bowl, cut butter into the flour using a pastry blender (or however you like to do it). Add pancetta (with all the rendered fat!) to the mixture and toss with a fork. Add one or two tbsp of cold water and toss again with a fork, until dough comes together. Shape into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap, and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Chop basil and mozzarella into 1/2-inch pieces. Slice the ends off the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds out (this will lower the moisture content of the tomatoes and keep the quiche from getting too soggy). Then chop two of the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces and toss with basil and cheese. Slice the remaining tomato thinly and set aside.
- Take the dough and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to 10 inches across, then remove the top piece of parchment paper. Place a 9-inch pie plate lip-down on the crust, then flip the two together so the crust is resting in the dish. Remove the second piece of parchment, and press the crust into the bottom and sides of the dish. You can crimp the edges or just tuck the overhanging edge underneath itself. Poke the crust with a fork a few times and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove crust from the oven and pour the basil, cheese, and tomatoes into it, making sure to distribute everything evenly. Mix eggs and milk together and add a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, then pour over the quiche filling. Top with the remaining tomato slices and an extra sprinkle of black pepper.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is set (I usually test by tapping it with a wooden spoon — as long as it isn’t wet/oozy, it’s done). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing.
It’s no secret (to those who know me, anyway) that I’m a math & science person at heart. Numbers speak to me, process comforts me, and exactness is a standard I treasure. I think that’s how I got into baking in the first place — it’s all math and science. Precise quantities and timing and chemical reactions. I’ve always felt comfortable with a reliable recipe, as it gives me confidence that I’ll be able to replicate the outcome (assuming my oven isn’t a total pile of poo that day). It’s a recent development that I’ve ventured into cooking, into playing with flavors, and into just… winging it. It’s part of this long-term project I have to loosen up more as a person, and has been accompanied by immersing myself in the arts, and talking about my feelings, and sometimes being late to parties, and wearing mismatched socks, and dripping egg yolk down the front of my newest blouse…
So, the other day, I was making banana bread, which is kind of an old stand-by “I am making this SOLELY for the purpose of not having my kitchen smell like rotting food” project. I had my own recipe, but I apparently hadn’t had any coffee or meth or ATP that day so halfway through I realized I had been arbitrarily pulling ingredient quantities from like three different recipes. All of which made different numbers of loaves.
A few minutes of winging it and about an hour of baking time later, I had the best damn banana bread I had ever tasted. And then I made it two more times and it was still the best. So… here you go. A loaf of personal-development banana bread.
Here’s to having NO IDEA what you’re doing sometimes.
Recipe: nutella banana bread
- 5 very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup nutella
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Do it with your hands. It’s fun.
- Whisk in butter, eggs, and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Add to wet mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop nutella on top of the batter and swirl with a knife to distribute it a little more evenly across the top and to marble it a little into the batter.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (or, only covered in nutella).
When life gives you a winter full of snow storms, the latest of which cancels your board exams after you’ve been studying non-stop for the previous six weeks, leading you to spend a cumulative 3 hours on the phone waiting for a human to take you off ‘hold’, which never ends up happening, so instead you go to the website and suck up the $110 fee to reschedule your test for the following week, and then snow barely even happens so that by the time you wake up it’s just sort of sleet-misting and you don’t even have the luxury of going outside and frolicking in piles of snow, and your boyfriend’s classes aren’t canceled so he can’t even stay in and read you stories to make it a proper snow day…
you make muffins.
and stay in bed.
and play Hungry Shark.
I should have named this blog “How to eat your feelings.”
Recipe: gluten-free, grain-free chocolate chip coconut almond muffins
Note: These taste like marzipan. I hope you like marzipan.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville, available at Costco for cheaper I believe)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until super soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs in individually, mixing after each to fully incorporate. Mix in the extracts.
- Mix together the baking soda, salt, and almond flour. Add the mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Toss in the chips and coconut and mix those in as well.
- Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle tops with extra coconut, if you like.
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.