Monday, March 19, 2012
This is one of the simplest and best kitchen tricks. If you ever use vanilla beans (like when you make Vanilla Bean Scones), don't get rid of the bean after you scrape it clean of it's inside goodness. Shove it down in a couple of cups of sugar and let it chill, spreading its love. Then use the sugar as you would normally (preferably for baking) and you'll have a lovely hint of vanilla throughout!
I am loving vanilla sugar. I can't wait to find new things to bake with it. But even if you don't bake, this would give a lovely hint to coffee or homemade hot cocoa! The possibilities are endless.
Do you have ways you love to use vanilla sugar? Please share!!
1 vanilla bean shell, scraped clean (use the insides for Vanilla Bean Scones!)
2 cups granulated sugar
1. Push your vanilla bean down into the middle of the sugar. Store in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks. Use for anything you'd normally make with regular sugar!
Friday, March 16, 2012
I had been promising the Monkey Scientist for a few weeks that I'd make a nice breakfast one weekend morning, but I kept rushing out early to go to weekend Stroga class and hadn't followed through. Finally, I came through with a special treat - scones. This was my first scone adventure, so I'm not sure how "typical" this recipe is, but it certainly was a learning experience.
First of all, grating butter? I grate all my own cheese, but this was a new one for me. It makes sense though! Trying to cut butter into flour is a pain, but mixing in little flakes of butter is easy! Totally weird, not changing my mind on that, but I think it works really well!
On the other hand, this recipe doesn't cut the pain of layering the dough. Do all scone recipes have layered dough? I felt like I was making croissants. But then when they baked up, I didn't notice the layers at all. Was all this rolling and folding worth it? What was I really doing? I need a baker pro to explain to me a little bit better!
Can I just throw out there that'd I'd love a nice wood pastry board. Like this one. It's on my wish list and sometime I'll take the plunge and buy it myself. My counter is just never clean enough to work directly on, and my cutting boards aren't cutting it (no pun intended). If you have a pastry board, this is a great recipe to use it for, since you roll out into all different sized square and rectangles.
We really enjoyed these scones. They were a bit doughy (did I over mix?) and not quite as flakey as they could have been, but delicious nonetheless. The vanilla flavor was strong throughout and I love the cinnamon sugar topping. I saved the rest as a quick bite to grab on the way out the door in the morning and they stayed delicious all week. As much as we've enjoyed waffles and scones, the next weekend breakfast may be an egg dish - I haven't made a quiche in a long time!
Oh! One note! Save your pod from the vanilla bean after you scrape it. I have something you can do with it! Stay tuned!
Vanilla Bean Scones
from Pink Parsley
8 Tablespoons cold butter, plus more for brushing
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out (save the pod!)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1. Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater onto a plate lined with parchment paper, and freeze.
2. Preheat oven to 425, and combine the dry ingredients. Stir in frozen butter. Whisk together the vanilla bean, yogurt, vanilla extract, and whole milk, and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until just combined. The dough will be crumbly, but that's okay.
3. Turn out onto a well-floured surface, and knead a few times until it forms a ball. Roll out into a 12x12 inch square. Using a bench scraper, fold the dough into thirds, then fold into thirds again in the opposite direction to form a square. Place on the parchment-lined plate, and freeze for 5 minutes.
4. Roll out to a 12x12 inch square again. Carefully roll up, as you would cinnamon rolls. Press the roll into a 4-inch wide rectangle. Using the bench scraper, cut into 4 equal-sized rectangles. Then cut each rectangle diagonally to make 2 triangles.
5. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point the scones can be baked or refrigerated overnight. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake 18-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.