Category Archives: Baking through a book

Buttermilk Scones

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My husband has a special affection for scones and American biscuits. Both of these he had discovered while living in Singapore. For myself, I grew up eating a rather different type of scone which is like a thick pancake. Some looking up in the Internet told me that those are called drop scones. Back to the so-called standard scones, we have not been able to buy them from bakeries like we used to after moving back to Germany. Thus, I came to the idea of making my own after seeing the recipe from my book, the Australian Women’s Weekly – Sweet Old-Fashion Favourites, published in 2011 by Bounty Books (Click here to check it out).

It took me a couple of tries before getting it right. I get that. Somethings just need a bit of practicing. Here it goes, as adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly-Sweet Old Fashioned Favourites:

Ingredients
450g self raising flour*
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered sugar
60g frozen butter, grated**
About 430ml buttermilk***
Extra flour for dusting & kneading

Method
1. Line baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 240 degrees Celcius or 475 degrees Fahrenheit. (I used 200 degrees Celcius or 392 degrees Fahrenheit with fan mode only. That is the maximum heat for that particular eco setting that I prefer to use.)
2. Sift dry ingredients into a big bowl. Add in the butter. Using 2 butter knives, incorporate the butter by slashing the knives criss cross through the dry ingredients. Alternatively, rub in the butter with your fingertips. Once the butter is well incorporated, pour in the buttermilk bit by bit to form a sticky and soft dough. You might not need all of the buttermilk therefore go slow with the additions. 3. Transfer the dough onto a well floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth. Using your fingertips, pat the dough down to a thickness of 2cm or 3/4 inch. Four the cutter of your choice and cut them out.
4. Transfer them to the baking sheet, spacing out the dough cut-outs from one another. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
5. Serve them warm with whipped cream/clotted cream/butter and jam.

* to DIY self raising flour, the rule of thumb is 2 tsp of baking powder for every 150g of plain flour. What I did here was to add in 6 tsp of baking powder and top up the flour till the scale hits 450g.
**I found this method allows me more control over the butter as I am not able to rub butter in well. Freeze the butter and grate it. Pop the grated butter into the fridge or freezer to cool it back up before adding it to the dry ingredients.
*** to DIY buttermilk, the guide is scant 250ml/1 cup of milk to a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. I put in about 2 tablespoons of acid before topping up the measuring jug to achieve the 430ml. Set aside for 5 minutes before using.

Scones

Here, we had them with some clotted cream and strawberry rhubarb jam. Both homemade too! Happy baking, everyone 🙂

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Melissa Gray’s Man Catcher (Sour Cream Pound Cake)

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Ideas and inspirations are indeed everywhere, if you pay attention. Couple of weeks back, I was breezing through the racks of books in the library, hoping that I would have the luck to come across an interesting book on food randomly, and I was indeed lucky! Yes! That is how I get books and with Mika in towed, the process becomes faster. It is a library. What would you do if your baby decides to fuss when you are inside? My solution: be real quick and hope for the best. Haha, yea right.

Well, it was the lovely cover of All Cakes Considered that caught my eye and I had snapped up the book. Back home, page after page, I found myself really enjoying the book. The coincidence was I used to bring baked goods to the office too, although not in the frequency of Melissa. Due to that, I felt like I could “click” with the author. I also found it very helpful in the way she details the baking process. It saves a newbie baker a lot of trial and error by pointing out the what-can-go-wrongs.

Thoroughly inspired and craving for cake (thanks to the book!), I have decided to attempt the first recipe in the book. After all, Melissa had stated that it will “provide you with an excellent introduction to cake baking”. In the list out of this recipe, do note that the instructions have been summarised as Melissa had been extremely detailed about it. She had wanted to establish basic cake baking skills and good habits with this particular recipe. Here goes:

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar (Note: I used 2.5 cups for my attempt. I have a sensitive sweet tooth)
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

A 10-inch tube pan

Directions
Always read your recipe before you begin.
(Make an inventory of things to get and things you have. Make sure fresh and correct ingredients are used. Understand the techniques required to make the cake.)

Center rack in oven and preheat to 325degreesF/163degreesC
(Check height of pan. Arrange rack so that the cake pan is positioned in the center of the oven for even baking. Preheat oven to said temperature.)

Prepare a pan.
(For this cake, use the specified 10-inch basic tube pan. Bundt pan can also be used. If using 9-inch square pan or a couple of loaf pans, halve quantity of each ingredient and baking time. However, a tube pan is recommended for pound cakes due to its dense nature.)

Cream butter and sugar
(Set out butter and eggs at least one hour BEFORE baking to ensure that they are at room temperature. Cut out room temperature butter in tablespoon sized pats and place in mixing bowl. Mix butter for 1-2 minutes at medium speed until butter is smooth. Measure sugar using Dip, scoop and level method – Dip measuring cup into bag/container, scoop up sugar and hold cup above bag/container to level off with knife or finger. Measure out 3 cups of sugar and put them in a prep bowl. From the prep bowl, measure out 1/2 cup sugar, add it to butter and beat it for 1 minute at medium speed. Continue adding sugar this way until all 3 cups are thoroughly creamed. The goal here is to dissolve the sugar into the fat.)

Add eggs
(Add eggs one at a time, mixing it for 1 minute per addition to incorporate the egg into the batter.)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl
(Measure flour using the dip, scoop and level method. Combine with other dry ingredients in the same bowl by whisking.)

Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream
(With mixer running at the lowest speed, add about 1 cup of flour into the batter and mix to incorporate. Stop mixer and scrape down sides with spatula. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream. Switch to medium speed and mix until incorporated. Stop mixer and scrape down sides with spatula. Repeat, ending with final addition of about 1 cup of flour.)

Add extracts. Beat until flavourings are incorporated and mixture looks smooth and even.
(Add one extract, give mixer a spin, add another, spin, add the last and spin. On medium speed, let mixer run for another 2 minutes.)

Pour batter into prepared pan
(Start pouring batter into prepared pan, go easy, using the spatula to guide all batter into the main pour stream. Pour batter against one side of the pan only and let it flow to the rest of the pan to prevent big air pockets. Fill pan no higher than 1.5 inches below the rim. Even out batter with spatula. Tap pan at the sideesto let out air pockets, if needed.)

Bake 90 minutes
(When baking is in progress, DO NOT interfere with the process by opening the oven door.)

How to tell your cake is done
(When the timer goess off, pull out pan halfway from the oven and poke skewer into the middle of the cake ring. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Othwerwise, back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes. 15 minutes if skewer was gooey. Continue until cake skewer comes out clean.)

How to get it out of the pan
(When cake is done, remove from oven and let it cool inside the pan for 15-30 minutes. When pan is touchable and cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan, the cake can be removed. If using a straight sided tube pan, run butter knife all the way around the inside, loosening up any cake that is stuck.
Depending on which side of the cake you like more (top or bottom), the cake will be first inverted onto a cake rack by flipping both the rack that was on top of the cake pan and the pan. Your job is done if you preferred the bottom side to be the top of your cake, as I. Otherwise, just flip it once more. Cool to room temperature and serve.)

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I was very pleased with the outcome of the Man Catcher and found her detailed instructions and explanations very helpful. And yes, Soenke was caught. Make yours today and see the catch for yourself!