Monday, May 28, 2012

Plain Scone

Oh, how I love scones! It's tied into my love for hot tea and my even greater love for going out for afternoon tea. There's nothing that makes you feel special like three tiers of afternoon-tea goodies (scones, finger sandwiches, and sweet treats). Add the good company of close family or friends, and, for me, afternoon tea = a little slice of heaven.

I'm always on the lookout for a great scone recipe. This is one of my favorites--single-sized. I found it years ago, have adjusted it a bit over the years to get it more to my liking, and have downsized the recipe for this blog.

It's is a very basic, easy-to-make, plain scone. I love this recipe because it doesn't require anything "special" like sour cream or whipping cream like many other scone recipes call for. It has just enough sweetness to stand on its own, but also tastes great when paired with clotted cream, lemon curd, or strawberry jam. Scones can range widely from biscuit- to cake-like. This one is sort of in between. It's slightly firm on the edges (almost like a shortbread cookie), and is softer in the center.

The recipe below is for 1 small, round scone. If you like your scones a little bigger or like the popular, larger triangle shape, I'd suggest doubling the recipe.

Plain Scone for One

1 Tbsp salted butter, softened
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp egg beaters
1/3 tsp milk
Extra 1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp flour (for kneading)
A pinch of Sugar in the Raw (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place softened butter in a small bowl. Add flour and baking powder and blend with a spoon until mixture is smooth. Add sugar and blend until fully incorporated. Add egg beater and milk, and stir until incorporated; dough will be a little sticky.

Knead dough (in the same bowl is easiest) for approximately 60-90 seconds, using the remaining flour, adding it about 1/2 of a teaspoon at a time to get dough to a smooth, workable consistency (think sugar cookie dough consistency).

Roll dough into a ball, then flatten to a small circle. Place on a baking tray, and sprinkle with a little Sugar in the Raw, if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

A picture of the recipe, doubled:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Scotch Treat

Welcome to a little slice of my history. This recipe is based on the first recipe I learned in 7th-grade home economics class.

Yes, I'm old.

But that's what they called it back in the day. I think they call it something like "family and consumer sciences" now. But I also think there aren't too many of these programs in public schools anymore. I hope I'm wrong, 'cause it was all kinds of fun.

Anyway, in class, we learned what a double boiler was and what a rubber scraper was and used them together to (oh-so slowly!) stir and melt the ingredients over the stove. Dear Mrs. I-Can't-Remember-Your-Name, I'm so sorry, but I don't think I've used a double boiler since. I will be grateful to you, forever, though, because you gave me the foundation for this sweet gem of a recipe. Love, Lisa.

1/2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp (heaping) of butterscotch chips (about 15 or so chips)
2 1/2 Tbsp rice krispies

Cut a small square of wax paper about the size of the palm of your hand; set aside.

Place peanut butter and butterscotch chips in a small bowl together. Microwave on high for approximately 20 seconds. Take out and stir. If chips are not fully melted, put back in the microwave for another 10 seconds, take out and stir. Repeat until chips are fully melted.

When mixture in the bowl is fully melted, add rice krispies and stir, coating all of the cereal. Put coated cereal in a single clump on wax paper.

Place treat in refrigerator and chill for approximately 30 minutes or until coating is fully hardened.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Duncan Hines Cupcake (From a Boxed Mix)

Let me set the stage.

It's Friday night, and you've got a killer craving for a cupcake. You have a boxed cake mix in your pantry (score!), but you just know that if you make it, you'll probably eat 2 cupcakes tonight, 3 tomorrow, and 3 the next day before you finally decide you have to get them out of your house and take the rest into work on Monday. That's what I'd do, anyway.

And so the mental battle begins. You know you shouldn't make them, so you try to talk yourself out of it. For about 15 minutes. But then you crack and make them anyway. And you eat 10 cupcakes in one weekend. (Okay, okay, so this is me again.)

For a while now, I've been thinking that there has to be a way to scale the ingredients back so I can just make a single cupcake from a boxed cake mix. So I did some tinkering and hit on a combination that consistently worked for a particular brand.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Boxed cake mixes are NOT created equal! Recently, manufacturers have been reducing the volume of their boxed cake mixes and changing the combination of dry ingredients. So using a mix other than the ones this recipe has been tested with could spell cupcake disaster. And nobody wants that. 

Drum roll please:

2 Tbsp cake mix (from a 16.5-oz box of Duncan Hines brand devil's food or yellow cake mix)
1/2 Tbsp egg beaters
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put a single cupcake liner in a cupcake tray.

Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl or cup. By hand, blend ingredients together and then (this is important!) continue mixing for 60-70 seconds. Pour into cupcake liner; they will be about half full.

Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost and add sprinkles if you'd like.

--Real egg works just as well as egg beaters, but are difficult to measure in small quantities.
--Plain applesauce can be substituted for the vegetable oil, but, when used, the cupcakes stick to the inside of the liners just a bit. Also, when used with the yellow cake mix, applesauce adds a slight hint of apple flavor.

Finally, enjoy that weird feeling. That feeling that doesn't feel like guilt. You just made, ate, and savored every bite of one cupcake, not 10. Go you!