“I said a bite, not half.” Sometimes my husband can be a pig.
“I, um, uh,” Brian kept chewing. “I actually like this.”
“So did I.” I turned, walked back into Amy’s Bread at Chelsea Markets at 15th Street. Before the Meat District became upscale, I worked just across the street in my family’s printing business. My family sold the building, and I went into food. Now I was happily back enjoying one of the great food districts in New York City.
In line at Amy’s, I decide that this time I would buy my own private damn scone, and I would not share it. I still can’t believe it: outside the man was eating cranberries and walnuts and rolled outs.
Scone in hand, my anger had subsided. I went back to him and checked for fever. He would not eat a healthy thing unless there was something wrong. Mild fever. I didn’t even bother with an aspirin.
There is nothing, nothing wrong with these absolutely wonderful sweet scones from Amy. I’m presenting the recipe as written in The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread. At home, I’ve baked my own and allowed my imagination to flow: instead of cranberries and walnuts I have used raisins and slivered almonds.
Amy emphasizes toasting the nuts before adding to the mix. That’s very important here. You need a strong nut flavor to compete with inherent taste of the oats.
Oat Scones with Cranberries and Walnuts
Yield: 12 large scones
- 1 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher slat
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, cold, in ½-inch dice
- 2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ⅞ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
Position one rack in the top third of the oven, one rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Line the two 12 x 17 inch sheet pan with baking parchment.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the 2 flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and process them for 5 seconds, until they are just combined. Add the butter and process again for 10 top 15 seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of tiny peas (if you don’t have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl with wire whisk and cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives). The butter should be suspended in tiny granules throughout the flour, not rubbed into it to make a doubly mass. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the oats, cranberries, and walnuts until they are evenly distributed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Remove ½ cup of this mixture and set it aside. Pour the remaining liquid over the dry ingredients and lightly and briefly stir them together, just until everything is barely moistened. It’s fine if there is a still a little bit of unmoistened flour in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t’ over mix or your scones will be heavy and doughy. This dough won’t be a single cohesive mass. It should look more like moistened clumps of flour and fruit.
Using your hands, drop free-form portions of dough about 3 ½ inches in diameter on the prepared baking sheets. Evenly space 6 scones on each sheet. Don’t try to press them down or squeeze them together — they should look like irregular mounds or clumps. Using a pastry brush, dab the reserved buttermilk/egg mixture generously all over the tops the scones and sprinkle them lightly with Turbinado sugar.
Place on pan on each oven rack and bake for 1 5minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375⁰F and rotate the pans from top to bottom. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the scones area deep golden brown on both the top and bottom. A toothpick inserted in the center of a scone should come out clean. Remove the scones from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They’re best if eaten within 2 days. [That will not be a problem.]
Source: The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree<
“What do you think?” I asked Suzen proudly. I hadn’t seen a look like this on her face in over twenty years.
“No,” she said quietly.
“But,” I began, astounded.
“I mean no,” her voice was forceful.
“No one has ever written a cookbook like this,” I emphasized.
She paused. “No, no one has. For good reason. You need to think about this idea.”
“Still,” I rebutted. “It’s a great idea, different I know, but the publishers will see the potential.”
She came forward. No anger in her face. Her eyes opened wide. She put her lovely hands on my shoulders. “Brian, are you taking all your meds?”
So, let me try this idea out on you. I want to write a cookbook called Cooking Chemistry the Way it OUGHT to Be. It will have recipes for great foods that ought, and I repeat ought, to have certain characteristics. And they would, if just God had made chemistry work differently.
Like that cake up above. That rich gorgeous cake. That cake should have no calories. In my world it would. You see, it’s a tube cake, so when it bakes all the calories go out the top hole. And then, to prevent the cake from reabsorbing any calories from the air, you put a THIN glaze around it. And because the glaze is thin, it can’t have any calories. There you have it, a rich chocolate cake with no calories.
You know, now that I put this idea down on paper, I can see Suzen’s point.
However, nothing, nothing can detract from this Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake. Rebecca Rather is truly a Pastry Queen and her book The Pastry Queen is based on the delights from her Hill Country bakery west of Austin the Texas Hill Country. An incredibly well trained and experienced culinary expert, her foods draw crowds from the Fredericksburg, Texas sidewalks. It’s a great food town, frosted with antique stores and offering Texas hospitality. Rebecca’s shop is the must-stop location in town.
The cake smells good, looks better, and tastes the best. It’s a delight by itself, with rich but not too rich chocolate flavor. The pecans, Texas pecans of course, are essential. But it would not be heresy to partner this cake with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, or coffee ice cream, or …
Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake
Yield: serves 8
For the cake:
- I cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter i
- ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ¾ cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
- 1 cup pecans
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ½ cup high-quality dark cocoa powder,
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted then measured)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch tube pan or a 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan with butter, sprinkle lightly with flour and tap over the sink to remove any excess flour (or spray evenly with Baker’s Joy spray). For cupcakes, line standard-size muffin pans with muffin wrappers or spray Texas-size (3 ½inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) muffin cups with Baker’s Joy.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add the water and whisk until smooth. Be careful not to boil the mixture. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the warm cocoa mixture all at once; whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt all at once; whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Don’t worry if there are some small lumps. Pour the batter into the cake pan or, if using muffin pans, fill each cup two-thirds full.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes: until the cake is done and has pulled away slightly from the pan and feels firm to the touch. For cupcakes, check for doneness after 20 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan about 20 min. Cupcakes need only a total of 10 minutes cooling time.
While the cake is finishing cooling, make the glaze. Place the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast them in the 350° oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.
Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt.
Loosen the cake with a knife or spatula and invert onto a serving plate. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, covering it thoroughly. Don’t worry if some of the glaze pools inside and around the cake. For cupcakes, remove them from the pan, and peel off the paper liners. Invert each cupcake onto a small serving plate —this way they look like tiny cakes—and cover with glaze
Source: The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country’s Rather Sweet Bakery and Café by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman