Saturday, January 1, 2011

BAKING IN THE NEW YEAR

Who would image that after all the snow we had during the month of  December, that our New Year's would be 54 degrees and rainy?  It was so lovely yesterday I wandered out to the local mall to do some post-holiday shopping - along with the rest of the local population!  The stores were crowded and the cash registers were hopping.  It's nice to see people out spending some money and I certainly did my share.

The best part about the day was the ability to wander from far in the parking lot to the mall entrance with no coat and with the sun shining on my face.  Even the breeze felt good.  Too bad it's raining today BUT that put me in the mood to do some baking.

PATTY CAKE, PATTY CAKE, BAKER'S MAN.....
Three batches of scones and 3 loaves of bread later, I couldn't be more pleased with the finished products.  Scones are something I've been working on for a couple of years and I think I've finally got the knack.  Today I made my infamous Cinnamon Schmear scones, a batch of Maple Walnut and one batch of Cranberry Orange scones.  Scones are so much like biscuits that I use the same technique for both.  I jokingly say that the biscuit gene is passed down from generation to generation.  My Grandmother made killer biscuits and my Mother makes them the same.  I learned from them and my biscuits are always tender, high, light and golden brown, just like theirs. 

Although my Mother and Grandmother made their biscuits totally by hand, I've worked them to be prepped in the food processor.  It cuts down on the prep time as long as you don't mind cleaning up the processor when you're done.  I use the exact same technique for my scones.  And it's easy to say that neither my Mother nor her Mother would have put flavorings in their biscuits to turn them into scones, but if they had, I'm sure they would have been wonderful.

Grandma in her apron - no doubt
about to make something to feed
an army.
 My recipes are not originals, like most of my baking research, the recipes were found on the King Arthur Flour web site.  It's full of wonderful baking hints, how-tos and recipes.  They have a few terrific blogs, a monthly baking sheet that comes in the mail, and it's so easy to spend hours browsing their site, if I get caught up in looking at these at work (during my frequent down times), sometimes I cannot wait to get home to try something new.

While both the Cinnamon and Maple-Walnut scones came from this site, the Cranberry-Orange scone recipe must have been out there once upon a time but is gone now.   Let me know if you'd like to try these and I'll share the recipe.

ROLL IT, SHAPE IT, MARK IT WITH A "B" AND PUT IT IN THE OVEN FOR BOBBI AND ME!
Funny, I can still sort of remember Mom doing this little nursery rhyme with me, maybe that's where I got my love of baking from.  In any instance, I've been baking since I was a young 'un.  Cookies and cakes where always popping out of the oven.  A few pies and, of course, quick breads for dinner like cornbread and biscuits.  
Today's bread ready to eat!


Grandma Mealey was the bread baker in the family. She turned out many loaves of white bread on a regular basis -they did not believe in buying store-bought bread.  And at the time she didn't fool with any of that fancy whole grain flour like we might today.  We ate generous fat slices of her white bread toasted in a hot cast iron skillet and then draped with applesauce or apple butter.  Oh goodness, I still crave this stuff.  It was truly a study in contrasts - soft white bread toasted in butter to create a crunchy crust hot out of the skillet with a spoonful of ice cold apple butter.  Soft and crunchy, hot and cold all in one bite!  Those were the days!

As for the bread I baked today, I'm not sharing those recipes.  Sorry.  If you're lucky enough to take a bread class from local bread guru Kathy Lehr you will also soon be able to turn out terrific whole grain breads from your own oven.  Where I used to make bread-shaped door stops, I now am baking light, airy loaves of nutty whole grain goodness.  And, no apologies needed to my Grandma - she would have loved this stuff too. 
 

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