Date, Nut, and Yogurt Scones

date scones - 1

Now that I live at 8600 feet, I approach many baking recipes with some trepidation. In my nearly 30 years living in Boulder (elevation 5400 feet), I’ve gotten pretty good at tweaking sea level recipes (read that as 99.99% of all recipes). But, nearly 9000 feet? That’s a whole new ballgame.

I set aside this recipe, from Gourmet November 1989, months back. It sat and sat while I pondered if they would work. I had a package of dates that were begging to be eaten. Isn’t this a perfect way to use some of them up? Yes, and this week, I finally gave the recipe a try. I did not go in blind. I consulted my favorite high-altitude baking cookbook Pie in the Sky by Susan G. Purdy. Along with information from Colorado Cooperative Extension, this book is my go-to on adjustments for altitude. If you bake in Colorado, Purdy’s book is a must-have. Turns out, the Pie in the Sky scone recipe is nearly identical in proportions to the Gourmet one. Purdy uses buttermilk, but yogurt is close enough.

Below, is the original Gourmet recipe (since I know most readers do not live at 8600 feet) with my adjustments in brackets. Some scone recipes use nearly twice as much butter as this one. So, this isn’t the richest scone recipe out there. It does have a nice tang from the yogurt that balances the intense sweetness of the dates. The walnuts add a delicious crunch.

Date, Nut, and Yogurt Scones
(makes 8)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 [1 1/2] teaspoons baking powder
1/2 [none] teaspoon baking soda
1 [1/2] teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into bits
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
8 oz. plain whole fat yogurt

Preheat oven to 425℉ [400℉].

Butter a small baking sheet.

In the bowl of a food processor, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pour the dough into a bowl. Mix in dates and walnuts. Add the yogurt and stir to combine. With floured hands, mix until the dough comes together in a loose ball. Mound on baking sheet to form an 8″ diameter disk. Score top to divide into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. [Reduce temperature to 375℉. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.]

Let cool on a rack. Serve warm.

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High Altitude Blueberry-Sour Cream Muffins

blueberry sour cream muffin - 1Well, I’ve been gone a long time. This is what happens when you a) build a new house, b) get your old house ready to sell, c) move, and d) just deal with the rest of life. I finally baked my first loaf of bread this entire year just last week. Cooking has fallen by the wayside.

But, I’m back! If you live at sea level, this recipe isn’t helpful. I adapted a high altitude recipe (3500-6500 ft, so Boulder/Denver is included) for my new even higher elevation of 8600 ft. Adapting recipes is kind of a crapshoot. There are a few things you can try and then you hope for the best. In this case, my small modifications produced perfect muffins first time out. Yay!

The original recipe came from High Altitude Baking by Patricia Kendall, from Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. These folks know more about baking at altitude then, well, me. And that’s saying something. 😉 Highly recommend the book.

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins
makes 12 muffins
(original for 3500-6500 ft, my modification for 8600 ft, many ski town elevations, in [])

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar [3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons]
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour [2 cups – 1 Tablespoon]
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder [1/2 teaspoon]
1 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh blueberries or raspberries

Preheat oven to 400°F [425°F]. Grease and flour a standard 12 cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs on low until whites and yolks are combined. With mixer running, slowly add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

Add 1/3 of flour mixture to large bowl, mixing to combine and scraping down bowl. Add 1/3 of sour cream, mix and scrap. Repeat 2 more times. Mix on medium speed for a moment at the end to make sure there are no lumps of sour cream. Fold in blueberries. Portion into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Original recipe says you can use frozen unthawed berries but you’ll need to bake the muffins 5-8 minutes longer. I used fresh berries so can’t tell you how to modify this with certainty. Probably need to add a little more time and turn down the oven at the end to keep the tops from over-browning.

Pumpkin Apple Breakfast Bread

A not-too-sweet quick bread with chunks of apple and the flavors of Autumn

I am a big fan of quick breads. They are yummy for snacks and as an on-the-go breakfast. But, so many quick breads are really cakes in disguise. They are so damn sweet they make my teeth ache. Admittedly, I don’t eat a lot of sweet things. Which is my way of saying, this quick bread is not very sweet. I’m just giving you heads-up on that. Don’t expect cake. If you need to sweeten it up, slather on some apricot jam or apple butter. It does taste of the season with pumpkin, apple, and warm spices like cinnamon, but minus a lot of the sugar.

I specify separate spices but you can use premixed pumpkin pie spice instead. Substitute 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Pumpkin Apple Breakfast Bread
(makes 1 9″x5″ loaf, about 12 servings)

non-stick cooking spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder (use 1 tsp. at sea level)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
⅓ cup low-fat or whole milk
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” dice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, both sugars, and the oil. Beat until smooth – brown sugar tends to be lumpy. Add the pumpkin puree and milk. Beat again until well-combined. With a spatula, mix in dry ingredients, walnuts (if using), and apple pieces. Do not over-mix; mix only until all the flour is incorporated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap a few times on the counter to shake out any big air bubbles in the batter. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean with no liquid batter sticking to it. Set the loaf to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and let it finish cooling to room temperature. You won’t be able to slice it until it’s completely cool. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. It can be stored at room temperature for about 3 days. After that, store in the fridge to prevent mold.