Saturday, 25 June 2011

Recipe 54 - These Lemon Muffins

I'm a big fan of the website The Hairpin. You can find all kinds of irreverent news stories and real life discussions there, and the commenters are the best on the whole internet. The Hairpin has a brother website called The Awl, and it seems like there's a lot of overlap in the readership (and writership). Case in point: Jolie Kerr seems to be a regular on both sites, and she wrote this recipe for These Lemon Muffins. Visit the website for the full recipe, here's what you'll need:

a stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
the zest of one lemon
2 eggs
½ cup of milk (any type)

1½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt.

¼ cup sugar
the juice of one large (or two small) lemons

His results - Scones

These turned out pretty well. There were a couple of things that would have pushed them over the edge into awesome I think. First on the list is cream. I bought some from the shop which was a week inside its best before date but when I opened it it was inedibly gone off. I was pretty gutted.

I could also have done with a proper cutter as could She. Using a mug like I did gives slightly fluted sides and doesn't let hm rise perfectly. Still they tasted nice and had a good texture. Fat is key though. Scones love cream and so do I.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Her results - Scones

Unlike him, I haven't eaten a lot of scones in my life. But being from the American South, I have had many a biscuit and I don't mean cookie! In making these and sampling the results, I kept wondering, "What makes a scone a scone and a biscuit a biscuit?" Turns out there's not that much of a difference, especially considering what went into our recipe this week. Our recipe only called for self-raising flour, fat and milk, but what often sets scones apart is the addition of any or all of the following: eggs, cream, sugar, dried fruit. Since our recipe contained none of those, I'm still left wondering if the difference between this week's scones and good old fashioned biscuits is in the eye of the beholder.

I was surprised to see lard amongst the ingredients listed in the recipe. I'm a vegetarian, but I don't kid myself about the animal products that sneak into my food on a regular basis. If you really want to control what you eat, you have to either make it yourself or ask a lot of questions. For this recipe, I used Crisco instead of the lard. I'm telling myself that's why my scones didn't get much lift, but I know that's almost definitely a lie.

I used butter right out of the fridge instead of letting it rise to room temperature, and I used a food processor to cut my fat into my flour. I dumped my crumbs into a bowl and used a wooden spoon to stir in the milk. The dough was very easy to work with, which was probably my favorite part of this recipe.

I used a drinking glass to stamp out my circular scones. I'm fairly sure that the roundness of these scones triggered my scone-biscuit confusion, because every scone I've eaten prior to these has been triangular.

The scones were pretty tasty though nothing stood out about them. If this is truly the best scone recipe ever written, then my results must have suffered from vegetarian user error of some sort or another. Regardless I would bake these again, and it will be my go-to recipe if one day I misplace my recipe for biscuits!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Recipe 53 - Scones

I have eaten a lot of scones in my life. A lot.

Good ones are thoroughly fantastic, the worst are like eating sawdust. This article from the Guardian purports to contain the very best recipe for scones. Fingers crossed they're right about that.

We'll be needing:

350g self-raising flour, sifted
50g butter, softened
50g lard, softened
100-115ml milk

Her results - Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares

My stepmom makes a killer pecan pie every Thanksgiving. I'd imagine that if you're from Georgia like she is, knowing how to make one is an obligation. These Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares reminded me a lot of her pecan pie. That's in part because of the delicious pecans in both. But it's also because I over-baked my squares just a little (shocker, I know) and instead of being ooey and gooey, the consistency of the taffy (?) was just like the center of a pecan pie. This turned out to be a delicious mistake. Still, I wonder if I'll ever learn when to take things out of the oven. I swear I keep a close eye on the oven!

I don't have a pastry knife, so I used two knives to cut my butter into my dry ingredients. If I remake this, I'll use my food processor to speed things up a bit. Regardless, the two knives did a good job and the crust was ready in fairly short order.

Mixing up the wet mixture was similarly quick and easy. We were a little shocked by how much butter went into this recipe, but it's no doubt the source of much deliciousness. So far as sugar goes, I used traditional light brown sugar in my bars. It seems to have been a good choice. I enjoyed that my bars were ultra pecan-filled, but I think you could make do with even just half of what this recipe called for and still have a delicious treat.

The recipe said, "Bake for 20-25 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. It should not feel firm–it’s really important that you don’t overbake, or they won’t be ooey gooey!” I checked my bars at 20 minutes and the top didn't spring back, in fact, it seemed like an ocean of liquid with a thin crust atop. Same at minute 21, 22, 23 and 24. Finally at minute 25 things seemed right and I took the dish out of the oven. I must have misjudged, because my bars were, as stated above, not ooey gooey when cooled and sliced. Thankfully they were not burnt so it wasn't that bad of a casualty.

I found these to be delicious and my co-workers and dad agreed. Dad and I volunteered at the Bonnaroo festival last week. It was fabulous, and snacking on one of these mid-day was a treat in the Tennesee heat.

Friday, 17 June 2011

His results - Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares

This was another recipe that was so good I made it twice in a week. It was much better the first time though. I put that firmly down to using muscavado sugar the first time and having run out the second time. Normal brown sugar was OK but not a patch on the first bath. I highly recommend you use muscovado!

I'm not a nut fan, I put sultanas in the first batch and nothing in the second since one of the folks who'd be eating it can't eat dried fruit. Sultanas were good!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Recipe 52 - Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares

My mom is a blog fiend. She has lots that she checks every morning, and she's always finding new ones and sharing them with me. One of her finds was Sweetapolita. The blog primarily features stunningly beautiful desserts, but I found one that looks simple and satisfying: Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares. Head to the recipe for the full directions. Here are the ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups packed brown sugar
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Friday, 3 June 2011

Her results - Jam Crostata

To be honest, I found this dessert pretty odd but appealing nonetheless.

I halved my recipe. I tried really hard to make sure I put in 50% of everything but maybe I went slightly wrong, because my crostata seemed overly oily. And now having seen His dough, I think mine even looks oily. So who knows... Maybe I messed it up. It would be hard to say. I'm shocked I could mess it up because this was one of the simplest recipes we've made. You basically mix the wet & sweet in one bowl and the dry in the other and then combines the two. This is an appealingly simple treat.

I decided to use a mixture of lemon and orange peel in my dough, and plum and apple jam atop. I picked up this jam when we were in Wales recently. It's delicious and fresh tasting!

I thought the lattice in the pictures that accompanied the recipe was a little bland looking, so I decided to use the fat end of a piping tip to stamp out little dots for decoration. It took some extra time, but it was enjoyable, mindless work.

In the end, I don't think the dots looked better than the lattice. My crostata looked like a funky sweet pizza. This pie-shaped corner slice only reinforces the image.

So this recipe is simple, quick, uses basic ingredients and is pretty tasty. What's not to like? Well, it smells sort of weird! I have no idea why, and there's nothing I could compare the smell to... I'll have to try making it again. Regardless of the odd scent, I look forward to eating more.

His results - Jam Crostata

I enjoyed making this one a lot. Shockingly simple and I liked the steps. The dough had a very pleasing consisentcy when it came together.

I didn't go for anything too fancy when I prepped it. Just laid a few wide stripes on. It looks pretty basic like this but the sections looked really nice after cutting. It was incredibly quick. In fact I had mine out of the oven and half way cooled by the time She popped hers into the oven.

Hers did end up looking fancier but I doubt it was tastier. This was absolutely my favourite recipe we've made in a fair few weeks (and we've been on a good run). I didn't put in as much jam as suggested and I added a pinch of salt to the dough. Other than that I just followed as it said. This won't be the last time I make this recipe I'm sure. It was blisteringly quick and can be baked with no notice since you don't need to wait for butter to soften etc. Everything should already be on hand in your kitchen, it can be made and on the table in 40 minutes and is delicious warm. Perfect if you need a truly delicious desert in a hurry!

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