Daring Bakers January 2012 Challenge- Scones

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I stuck with the plain scones as I just can’t go back a plain scone with jam and cream.  These scones were very tasty and light.  I really liked the layers that the folding technique produced, but unfortunately mine didn’t rise very much (probably due to old baking powder), and they were a little heavy because of this.

I would definitely make this recipe again if I was looking for a non-sweet scone.  However, I personally like my scones a little sweet, and although it’s probably cheating a bit , I love a nice lemonade cream scone.  The best part is you just lob everything in, the gas in the lemonade makes it rise well and it always works!  (recipe to come).

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

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Arroz con leche (rice pudding) Ice cream

After raving in my last few ice cream posts about the recipes on the Ice Cream Ireland website, I decided to mix it up a little and try something new.  Whilst searching for ice cream recipes on the internet, I noticed that the vast majority of recipes on blogs was attributed to one man and one book, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I decided to give it a try.

This man knows his ice cream.  The book is packed full with different and delicious recipes for ice creams, sorbets and gelato, as well as detailed information about different ice cream making techniques.  Each recipe is accompanied by ‘perfect parings’ such as mix-ins, sauces or serving suggestions.  There is also an excellent range of recipes for cones.

Arroz con leche (Spanish rice pudding) is very popular, and often seen on dessert menus in the North of Spain.  Unlike the English pudding, it is usually served cold and is generally made on the stove top-more like a sweet risotto than a baked pudding. I have wanted to make this ice cream flavour for some time, so when I saw that The Perfect Scoop featured a rice pudding gelato, this was obvious choice for my first recipe from the book.

The recipe involved making a traditional baked English pudding and therefore required some time, but the process itself is extremely simple as there is no call for making a custard.  The egg yolks and cream are simply mixed into the cooked pudding whilst still hot.   Half the pudding is blitzed in a food processor or blender, leaving just the right amount of whole rice pieces to give an excellent texture.   The ice cream was fantastic, creamy, with flavours of orange and cinnamon from the pudding.

The perfect pairing for this recipe was sour cherries with Grand Mariner, which sounded delicious.  However, as I had none of these ingredients in stock I went down the more British route and served it with a little heated strawberry jam. As David says, the ice cream is best straight from the ice cream maker, or allowed to defrost a little before serving so that the rice is not frozen too solid.

Rice Gelato (from David Lebovitzs’ The Perfect Scoop)

‘/2 cup Italian Arborio rice
3 cups  whole milk (i used skim and it worked fine!)
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
I vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise ( I used essence)
Two I·inch·wide (3-cm) strips of orange zest
5 large egg yolks
I cup cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

To make rice pudding:

  •  preheat the oven to175 °C.
  • In a 2-liter baking dish, stir together the rice, milk, 1/4 cup  of the sugar, and the salt.
  • Add the vanilla bean and strips of orange zest.
  • Cover the dish  with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove the rice from the oven and remove the foil
  •  Stir in the remaining 1/ 2 cup  sugar, then continue to bake the rice, uncovered, for another 30 minutes
  •  There should be a bout 2cm of milk covering the rice and rice should be completely cooked.
  • Remove the rice from oven,nd briskly whisk in the egg yolks all at once.
  • Then whisk in the cream and nutmeg.
  • Puree half of the rice mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth, then stir it back into the cooked rice.
  • Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I also tried my hand at making ice cream cones, following another recipe from this book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think my oven was really hot enough and I didn’t roll the dough thin enough as they ended up more chewy that crispy.  Delicious, but not really like ice cream cones! I used a glass as a mould in my first attempt and the end of a rolling pin in the second, so they were never really going to be cone shaped.

David Lebovitzs’ Ice Cream Cones (also from The Perfect Scoop)
1/4 cup  egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)
7 tablespoons  sugar
1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2/3 cup  flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Stir in the salt and half of the flour, then mix in the melted butter.
  • Beat in the rest of the flour until smooth.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper spread 2 level tablespoons of the batter into a circle 15cm across.
  • Put the baking sheet in the over and begin checking the cones after about 10minutes. They may take anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
  • The circles should be a deep golden brown . Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  • Loosen the edge of one disk with a spatula. Slide the spatula under the disk, flip it over, and immediately roll it around a cone·rolling form, or small coffee cup. You need to be quick as the cones firm up very quickly.  Return to the oven to soften slightly if it gets to firm to shape.
  • Let the cone cool slightly on the mold until it feels firm, then slide it off cool.
  • Repeat, using the remaining batter.

Dulce De Leche Ice Cream with Turron

As I was fortunate enough to receive an ice cream maker for Christmas I have been eagerly trying it out- with some pretty good results.  This recipe for Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with Turron is based loosely on a basic ice cream recipe from the Ice Cream Ireland website, as these have given me very good results in the past with a smooth, creamy ice cream.

Turron is a Spanish confectionery that come in various forms, most traditionally a crunchy sugar, egg white and almond sweet or a soft crumbly almond mix.  However, now at Christmas it is possible to find turron in a huge variety of flavours- mostly with little resemblance to the original product and a lot featuring chocolate.   The turron I used in this case was  a less traditional type.  Basically it was a thick block of milk chocolate with a slightly truffley texture with small pieces of biscuit throughout.  It was on sale after Christmas, so I thought I’d whack it in.  It could be replaced with any type of chocolate bar, perhaps one with nuts or biscuit pieces for a little more crunch. I am a big fan of chunks in ice cream, the more the better, so if you prefer a smoother ice cream experience you may want to reduce the quantity of chunks!

Dulce De Leche is a product made from the heating and caramelisation of sweetened milk to for a caramel flavoured spread.  It is super sweet, but delicious as a spread on toast, in cakes and cooking and by itself on a spoon.  It is readily available in all Spanish supermarkets, and probably in good supermarkets or specialty stores else where.  If you can’t find it however, there are countless recipes on the internet for making it at home.

I did intend to have swirls of dulce de leche throughout the ice cream, but this didn’t really go to plan as the dulce de leche combined with the custard and flavoured the whole ice cream (not really a big problem!).  Perhaps the ice cream needed to be more frozen when I added the swirl!

The ice cream maker is a simple canister that is placed in the freezer until you need to use it (at least 24 hours works best).  The custard is then added to the machine as it churns.  It is very important to start the churning before you add the custard as if you add the custard first and then start the machine up, the padel may have difficulty moving due to frozen ice cream on the sides of the canister.  Even with this simple machine the results as far superior to making the ice cream by hand, not to mention a lot less labor intensive.  The ice cream is far creamier and there are less crystals.  It also seems to maintain a scoopable texture in the freezer, rather than freezing solid.

The turron, (or any other mix in you desire), is best added after the churning process is completed, before finally putting the ice cream in the freezer.  This prevents it from sinking to the bottom, as the ice cream it thick enough to support it. 

Dulce De Leche Ice Cream with Chocolate Turron (method based on basic recipe from Ice Cream Ireland)

5 egg yolks

125g sugar

200ml milk

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

230ml whipping cream

1/2 cup or more dulce de leche

100g (or more if you like lots of chunks) chocolate turron or chocolate bar of your choice cut into large chunks.

  1. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow.
  2. Bring the milk to a low simmer.
  3. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow  steady stream.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.
  5. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 65-70C) and just coats the back of a spoon. Don’t over-heat, though, because at around 76C you will scramble the eggs!
  6. Immediately remove from the heat.
  7. Allow to cool completely.
  8. Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (you should have soft peaks – don’t over-whip).
  9. Fold the cream (gently stir) into the custard.
  10. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, adding the dulce de leche when the ice cream is already quite solid.
  11. Otherwise, cover and place in the freezer, again adding the toffee when it has become semi-solid.
  12. If you’re using a domestic ice cream machine, transfer to a freezer-proof covered container when the ice cream has achieved a semi-solid consistency (around 15 minutes).
  13. Fold in chunks of turron at this stage.
  14.  Place it in the freezer, and continue to freeze until it is solid.

Sri Lankan Food Experience

Prawn curry

Whilst in Sri Lanka recently with family I was lucky enough to  visit a great restaurant specializing in local seafood and curries.  In fact it was such a good restaurant we returned four times during the trip, including once for a cooking demonstration/class.

Parathas

The Diya Sisila restaurant is the number one rated restaurant in the Bentota area on Trip Advisor, and with good reason.  The food is delicious, the chef and staff incredibly friendly and smiley and the location peaceful and beautiful.  The restaurant is set a little out of the main town and needs to be reached by Tuk Tuk.  It is set on the river bank and offers a catamaran boat tour for diners if they go a little early. This was a really relaxing way to start the meal, and gave the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine, whilst being paddled along the river taking in wild life and scenery.

river cruise

The restaurant does not have a menu, and with only four tables it is important to phone and book beforehand, and also to request the food you want.  The restaurant serves no alcohol, so you need to bring your own.  The first time we dined at this restaurant we chose to sample the seafood platter option.  This started with a pineapple coleslaw, flavoured with black pepper, which was surprisingly delicious and followed by a huge plate of barbecued jumbo prawns, lobster and fish.  The fish was served with a chunky, spicy pineapple sauce, and the lobster and prawns with garlic butter sauce.  The seafood and fish were both delicious and we were unfortunately defeated by the size of the platter.  This meal was finished with a vanilla ice cream with crushed nuts and treacle (or ‘trickle’ as it is called in Sri Lanka).

A seafood feast- lobster, prawns and fish

On out next visit we decided to sample the curry selection (which we requested to be ‘like a rocket’ hot and spicy), and it was a wide selection!  There was prawn, cuttle fish, chicken, daal, bean and mushroom.  These were all served with soft fluffy rice and delicious paratha bread.  The very friendly chef happily showed us how to eat effectively with our fingers and happily made sure we enjoyed our meal. We enjoyed it so much we asked for a cooking lesson the following week.  Although this is not something usually offered, the chef was happy to oblige (in fact he was constantly happy, as were his smiling waiter brothers!).

raw ingredients

mixing it up

The cooking lesson was brief, and more of a demonstration due to limited kitchen space, but definitely gave us a good idea of spice mixes and cooking methods to produce tasty curries and rice.  We returned one more time for a curry feast and to amp up the rocket factor one more time, as we still didn’t feel we had tasted a blow your head of curry, which is famed in Sri Lanka.  I think the locals operate on the side of caution when cooking for foreigners.  We were satisfied with  some pretty spicy dishes, and once again an incredibly filing curry feast.

This is a fantastic restaurant, well worth a visit if you are in the region.  Bentota is dominated by tourist type restaurants with a lot of western cuisine and bad buffets, so if you want to sample the local cuisine with a smile and fantastic surroundings Diya Sisila is the perfect location.  The price is a little higher than many restaurants, but still very reasonable for the quality and quantity of food.  Your won’t go home hungry!

finished chicken curry

Cheesecake Ice cream with Berry Tarts- a tropical christmas dessert!

As I was spending this Christmas in the tropical (if somewhat smoggy) city of Jakarta, traditional Christmas desserts where no really on the cards this year.  No one really fancies a hot steamed pudding with custard or even heavy fruit cake when it is thirty five degrees outside.

It was a  toss up between ice cream and cheesecake…and the result, cheesecake ice cream of course!  Berry coulis was to be the original accompaniment, but  was replaced with Berry Tarts at the request of my sister, who had had an amazing berry tart  in San Fransisco and wanted to repeat the experience.

I used a modified recipe from my favourite site for all things ice cream, Ice Cream Ireland, as I have 100% success rate with their recipes and they are easily modified to whatever ingredients you happen to have in the pantry.  The original recipe as for Goats cheese Ice Cream (which I will be trying at a later date), but I substituted the goats cheese for cream cheese and sour cream in this case.  I also added biscuit base pieces throughout the ice cream as I am a firm believer in the crunch factor in an ice cream. I used a simple churning home ice cream maker and the result was a smooth, rich, cheesy ice cream with crunchy biscuit pieces which balanced the tart berries nicely.

For the tarts I used Dan Lepards Sweet Shortcrust recipe, but found this disappointing.  The pastry turned out thick and difficult to handle, although whether the recipe of the cook was at fault for this remains to be seen!  The heat and humidity probably didn’t help either.  The pastry did have a nice level of sweetness though in comparison with other recipes which tended to have copious quantities of icing sugar. Further experimentation needed to find my go to sweet pastry recipe.

The tarts were filled with a berry coulis, made from a variety of fresh berries, sugar and water and then cooked to thicken.

Cheesecake Ice Cream (adapted from Ice Cream Irelands’ Goats Cheese Ice Cream)

  •  130g sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  •  120ml cream
  • 120ml sour cream
  • • 200 ml milk
  •  150 gm cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

1. Combine the egg yolks and sugar and beat until thick.
2. Bring the milk to a low simmer .
3. Beat the milk into the egg/sugar mixture in a slow stream.
4. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.
5. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 65-70C) and just coats the back of a spoon. Don’t over-heat, though, because at around 76C you will scramble the eggs!
6. Immediately remove from the heat.
7. Allow to cool, then mix in the vanilla and cheese and sour cream, using a blender or processor just until smooth.
8. Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (soft peaks)
10. Fold in the custard.
11. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer.
12. If you’re using a domestic ice cream machine, transfer to a freezer-proof covered container when the ice cream has achieved a semi-solid consistency (around 15 minutes).

13.  Fold in Biscuit crumbs (see recipe below)

Place it in the freezer, and continue to freeze until it is solid.

makes 8 servings

For Biscuit Base crumbs

  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter (melted)

Crush Biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor until fine.  Stir in melted butter and press into a cake tin (as if you were making a cheesecake base).  Cook in oven at 180 degrees for 10 mins, then chill until firm in fridge.  Break into pieces of desired size.

 

Berry Tarts Recipe

  • 250g mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • water to just over berries in pan.

Sweet Shortcrust pastry (Dan Lepards) (makes enough for about 8 individual tarts)

 

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • About 2 tbsp (30ml) ice-cold water

Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl. Break the butter into small pieces and rub this through the flour until it vanishes. Beat the yolks with the water and stir this into the flour. Mix to a very soft and smooth dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before using as it needs time to firm up.