Scones!

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Because I can’t think of biscuits without thinking about scones, I made scones today. I don’t know, I just woke up with this mad craving that I had to satisfy.
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Scones are a type of quickbread ( like biscuits) that are English in origin. Basically quickbreads don’t need yeast, hence the name. The only scones that I’ve ever tried are the ones I made a few days ago, so I’m a novice. I don’t even know what to look for in taste and texture – but I sure did enjoy eating it. The end product is cake-y and chewy – I admit, I think I overworked the batter a bit, but in my defense that’s probably the only way I can really learn restraint.

Honey and walnut have been my go-to flavor combination that blends with the scones perfectly. In my head, even if I don’t know what a proper scone should taste like…I’m looking for that texture akin to puff pastry, meaning, I’d like to see scone slightly flaky, like these, where I got the recipe from.

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I’m still looking for a recipe that knocks my socks off in epic proportions. But these were good, really good.
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Scones (makes at least eight pieces; adapted from here)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • ½ cup walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and walnuts and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the dry ingredients – keep working it until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the milk and use a fork (or your hands) to gently bring the mixture together. There may still be a few dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, that’s fine.
  4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it in half. Gently shape each piece into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Like a pie, cut each disk into 4 or 6 pieces, depending on how big you want your scones – I did six.
  5. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. (You can bake the scones immediately, but I like to refrigerate or freeze mine briefly so the butter is really cold when it hits the oven. – THG did this)
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the scones begin to turn golden brown around the edges and are slightly firm to the touch.
  7. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the scones cool for a few minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely. Drizzle with honey and more walnuts. Enjoy!
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Sticky Toffee Pudding

I first heard of Sticky Toffee Pudding from Nigel Thornberry, you know, that guy from The Wild Thornberrys, one of the best Nickelodeon cartoons all time? I’m not sure who he was talking to, but I do remember a phrase from his dialogue, in his thick British accent, he said, “…faster than you can say sticky toffee pudding”. So I presume it sticky toffee pudding is an English dessert.
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Then I learned more about it when the Lifestyle Network aired a short reality show which pitted everyday American homemakers against each other to create “the new Häagen-Dazs ice cream flavor”, and by luck and taste would have it, the honor went to the genius who thought of “Sticky Toffee Pudding”.
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A dessert from across the pond – it’s a moist cake studded with prunes or dates, then topped off with a toffee sauce like molten gold. I actually made my first batch of pudding (the British sometimes call a sweet dessert ‘pudding’, without specific references to a custard) more than a year ago, and I baked it in muffin tins. This time I used a 9 x 3 inch cake pan because it was my grandma’s birthday and I also baked her something sweet, since she doesn’t get a lot of it on a regular day.
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But to be completely honest I did have a few moments where I did give myself a facepalm. The last time I baked a cake, I did have an issue removing the wax paper – and the cake from the pan. In my defense flipping it over a plate was not a great idea since it was baked with a topping. This time however, I did have to make heads or tails on how to properly remove the cake, sans topping, from the pan. Because I was banking on my novice skills, I had a few moments of hesitation. I didn’t know handling a cake involved rocket science.

But I did get it out of the pan by first lifting it using the wax paper, then flipping it over so the flat, even bottom layer was on top. Youtube helped the poor fella out. Note to self: go to battle sufficiently prepared.
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The pudding is everything good in a dessert – moist and packed with flavor but not too sweet. The fact that you can drench it in a heavy toffee-like syrup is an incredible thing to see and taste. It really reminds me of  Food For The Gods, except that this is more dense like a cake. But either way, I don’t have to wait for the holidays to get my fix.  So far, this recipe has never failed me. And I believe this’ll be a nice addition to your range of recipes as well. Scratch that, not ‘nice’. Not even ‘good’. This is GREAT.
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Sticky Toffee Pudding (makes one round 9×3 inch cake; adapted from yummy.ph)

  • 1 1/4 cups dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (In a pinch, I used fresh milk + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to make 1 cup buttermilk)

For the pudding sauce

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Using a pastry brush (or a brush that you exclusively use for cooking/basting), brush the inside of a round 9 x 3 inch baking pan with shortening/oil. Do not use butter. Line it with wax paper all the way up to and beyond the sides, so there is an “overhang”. A different method can be seen here and here. I might try it next time. Photobucket
  2. In a bowl, steep dates in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Pulse dates in a food processor until roughly chopped.Photobucket
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt together butter and sugar on medium heat.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir immediately to incorporate the eggs. Transfer to a large bowl.Photobucket
  5. Mix in vanilla extract and dates.Photobucket
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add in to the egg and date mixture. Add the buttermilk, mixing until combined.Photobucket
  7. Transfer batter to cake pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.Photobucket
  8. Make the pudding sauce: In a saucepan over low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and heavy cream, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. Spoon over pudding. Serve individually on dessert plates with more sauce. Enjoy!