Cranberry Scones


This recipe is not new to the blog, but since it is one of my favorite breakfast treats I decided it deserved a reintroduction.  This seems the perfect time of year to be reminded of it, with cranberries in the stores again and turkey day on its way.  These have the kind of texture I love in a scone – light and buttery inside with a slightly crisp crust on the outside.  The tart cranberries and the addition of citrus zest gives these scones an ideal flavor for fall.  I tend to prefer lemon zest in my scones but orange zest would also be wonderful choice here, since it pairs so well with cranberries.

I’ve mentioned it many times before but scones can be frozen after shaping and then baked straight from the freezer simply by adding a few extra minutes onto the baking time.  In case you will be having overnight guests for Thanksgiving, I highly recommend stocking your freezer with some of these scones now.  I certainly don’t feel like getting back in the kitchen and making a mess the morning after such a big meal, so freezer scones with yogurt, homemade granola (premade, of course) and fresh fruit make a really nice breakfast for guests that requires next to no effort.


Cranberry Scones
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Yield:
8-10 scones

Ingredients:
1½ tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk1 cup heavy cream
Additional sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a food processor*, combine the lemon zest, flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Add in the cold butter pieces and pulse again briefly until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter pieces are no larger than peas.  Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, toss together the chopped cranberries and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.  Stir this into the flour-butter mixture.

In another small bowl or a liquid measuring cup, combine the egg, egg yolk and heavy cream; whisk to blend.  Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon just until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Knead gently to be sure the dough is evenly mixed, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Place a 2½- or 3-inch round biscuit cutter on the lined baking sheet.  Scoop some of the dough inside the cutter and pat down gently to form a 1-inch thick round.  Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the rounds 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet.**  Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.

(To freeze before baking, flash freeze at this point.  Place the baking sheet with the shaped scones into the freezer and chill until frozen.  Transfer to a freezer-safe plastic bag and store until ready to bake.)

Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  (If baking from the freezer, add approximately 5 minutes to the original baking time.)

*Note: A food processor is not required for this recipe.  You can achieve the same result using a stand mixer, a pastry blender, or even just two knives.  I like the food processor because it is quick and easy, but all methods work equally well.

**Note: There are many different ways to shape scones.  You can pat the dough into one large disc and slice into triangular wedges, roll it out and cut with a biscuit cutter, use a dough scoop and simply make drop scones, etc.  Do whatever you prefer.  I like this method for this particular scone dough because the dough is sticky and this prevents overworking.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


If you haven’t noticed, I make a lot of breakfast treats.  Muffins, scones, bagels, etc.  I bake lots and love ’em all.  But these – these are my favorite of all.  The reigning champ of breakfast treats.  These are definitely one of the main food-related reasons I look forward to fall.  Sure, I can make them anytime but they seem to taste best on a crisp fall morning when the sun rises a little later than the days before.


I believe originally these were meant to be a knock-off of a Starbucks bakery item.  I’ve never had the original so I have no basis for comparison, but it’s hard to imagine them being better than the homemade version.  The streusel topping is not as chunky as some, and instead sort of melts during baking to create a crackly cinnamon-sugar topping that gives these an extra little something.  Be sure to mix and freeze the filling in advance so that it is ready to go when you want to make the muffins.  They may take a bit more time than your average muffin, but are totally worth it in the end.  This is not a new recipe to the blog, but one that needed a little updating with better pics and a printer-friendly version.  I hope you’ll enjoy rediscovering this recipe, a true favorite of mine.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
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Yield: 24 muffins
Ingredients:
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions:
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter.  Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil.  Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons).  Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces.  Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well.  Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.  Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.  (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)

Source: adapted from BakeSpace

Chocolate Chip Scones


These chocolate chip scones have long been a favorite in our household, but they got buried deep in the archives with a ugly photo.  I love them both because they are delicious (I mean, hello, they are chocolate chip scones!) but also because I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand.  This means I can whip up a fantastic breakfast or brunch treat in next to no time.  Just as with any scones, only bake as many as you need at a time and freeze the rest of the dough after shaping.  You can bake straight from the freezer and have a sweet treat fresh from the oven with practically no effort required.

Chocolate Chip Scones
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Ingredients:
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup (6 oz.) chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate chips)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Additional sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; stir to combine.  Toss in the chocolate chips and stir to blend.  Add the heavy cream to the flour mixture, stirring just until a dough forms and the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Knead the dough very briefly with well floured hands to ensure even mixing.

Using a large dough scoop (or a large spoon), drop rounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar (if using).  Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Hershey’s

Strawberry Scones

It seems I’ve been making scones like they are going out of style, but I assure you they are not.  They’re just so delicious and convenient when you bake straight from the freezer and have a warm, fresh scone for breakfast.  Strawberries can be a finicky fruit in baking because with their high water content, they can produce very soggy baked goods.  These scones are one way to get around that problem.  When you flash freeze them and then bake from the freezer, you know you’ll be eating a light and fluffy scone with juicy berries that don’t have time to get soggy because they go from freezer to oven to belly.  Of course you are welcome to bake them immediately after the dough is made and shaped, but if they aren’t eaten within a couple of hours, they will get soggy.

Strawberry Scones
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Ingredients:
1 large egg
¼ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
½ cup milk
1 tsp. orange or lemon zest
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 heaping cup diced fresh strawberries

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, milk and citrus zest until blended; set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Add the butter pieces to the bowl with the dry ingredients and pulse several times to cut the butter into the flour, until the largest butter pieces are the size of small peas.  (If you don’t have a food processor, you can just as easily mix up the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives or forks.)  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Add the strawberries to the flour mixture and toss to coat.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and gently fold together with a fork or spatula until a sticky dough has formed.  Knead just a few times to ensure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough is cohesive.  (Only if absolutely necessary, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time to hydrate the remaining dry ingredients.)

Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface and pat into a disc about 7-8 inches in diameter.  Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.  Slice the disc into 8 wedges.

To bake the scones, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Place the shaped scones on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes before serving.

To freeze, transfer the baking sheet with the shaped scones to the freezer and let them chill until they are firm, 30-60 minutes.  Wrap the scones individually and store in a freezer-safe bag until ready to bake.  Bake as originally indicated, adding a few minutes to the baking time (usually about 18-20 minutes for me.)

Source: adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Good Things Catered

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Remember when I mentioned operation: use up the excessive amount of oatmeal I have bought?  Yeah, I’m still working on that.  But you know what – now I’ve created the opposite problem!  I’ve found so many great oatmeal recipes that I’m going to end up buying more after it’s all gone so I can try them all.  That’s okay with me!  These muffins taste just as the name would imply, like peanut butter and banana.  The two flavors are well balanced, and the oatmeal provides texture and a bit of chewiness, which I loved.  These are delicious even with no topping at all but I found I preferred them as seen here, with a small spread of peanut butter and a banana slice on top.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins
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Yield: about 18 muffins
Ingredients:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. applesauce
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
6 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with a fork to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth.  Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated and fully blended.  Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: adapted from Baking Bites

Orange Muffins

Occasionally readers email me requests for recipes they would like to see on the blog.  Sometimes it is for something I’ve never even heard of, but so often it seems that they ask for something I was already planning on making myself.  That’s what happened with these orange muffins.  I had just seen them while flipping through a cookbook and thought they sounded great, and maybe the next day I had an email requesting an orange muffin recipe.  No problem, you got it!  As an aside, I do not take requests such as, “I wish you would post more vegan recipes,” etc.  Hi, I’m not vegan.  Nothing against it and if I happen to make a vegan recipe, great, but this is not a vegan blog.  There are plenty of great ones out there!

Anyway, back to the food.  On the muffin spectrum, these land more on the side of “an excuse to eat cake for breakfast”, but hey, I’m not complaining.  These muffins are just barely sweet with a bright, fresh orange flavor, a gorgeous tender crumb, and a slight tang from the sour cream.  I think sour cream is a magical ingredient in baking, similar to buttermilk.  I makes things fluffy and fabulous like these amazing scones, some truly awesome chocolate cake (soon to come), and now these muffins.  A lovely way to start out the day.

Orange Muffins
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Yield: about 2 dozen muffins

Ingredients:
For the muffins:
1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Zest of 1 orange (organic if possible)

For the glaze:
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tsp. orange zest (organic if possible)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 16 wells of a muffin pan (or pans) with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs and melted butter.  Whisk together to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to blend.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the orange zest with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.

To make the glaze, combine the orange juice, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest in a small bowl.  Whisk together until smooth, adding more juice if necessary to achieve your preferred consistency.  Drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they are still warm.  Allow the glaze to set before serving.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Remember a couple weeks ago when I made these super yummy banana berry muffins which also happen to be really healthy?  Well, these are sort of the opposite of that (except the delicious part, of course).  I like to bring in breakfast treats for my coworkers when we have to work weekends.  I think it makes being at work on Saturday just a bit more tolerable.  I always have fun deciding what to make, and it was a no-brainer that a bacon cheddar scone was going to be a huge hit.  I left one at home for Ben when he woke up and sure enough, after being at work for a few hours, I received a text from Ben stating, “Best scones ever!”  Of course the bacon cheddar combo is always a good one, and the addition of scallions and lots of black pepper rounds out the flavor nicely.  The scone itself is both tender and fluffy, but still incredibly hearty.  And if there is one positive thing about such a calorie-laden scone, it’s that it certainly kept me full until dinnertime.  I did feel the full 2 teaspoons of black pepper seemed a little much for my taste.  If you love black pepper then by all means, go for it!

Bacon Cheddar Scones
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Ingredients:
For the scones:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly slices
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Slice the dough into 8 to 10 wedges.

In a small bowl combine the egg and water and whisk together.  Brush each wedge lightly with the egg wash.  Transfer the scones to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Source: adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather