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.

Advertisements

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.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

This is a great dish for a brunch. It’s like hash browns with sausage gravy.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole
(serves 6)

8 oz. chopped broccoli
1 lb. Bulk Breakfast Sausage
2 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried onion
1 ½ cups Whole Milk
1 1- lb. Package Frozen Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes
1 ½ cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9″ x 9″ x 2″ glass baking dish.

If using fresh broccoli, steam or boil for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well. If using frozen broccoli, thaw completely.

Cook sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon. Mix in flour, garlic power, and dried onion. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture thickens and comes to boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits on the pan. Remove from heat.

Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Top with broccoli. Sprinkle lightly with salt and  pepper. Cover with 1 cup cheese,  then the sausage mixture. 

Bake casserole for 50 minutes. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Return to the oven to melt cheese and finish cooking, about 10 minutes.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

banana-bread-1

I have made this recipe many, many times. Not so much lately because we don’t often have bananas in the house. I don’t like bananas. I don’t like the smell of them sitting on the counter. I don’t like the texture. My husband loves bananas but he hides them at work. Oddly enough, I love banana bread! Banana cake too. (I need to post my mom’s recipe for that. It’s a classic. But I digress.) I guess I need to buy a bunch of bananas and set some aside for this.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
(makes 1 8″x 4″ loaf, serves 12)

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 mashed ripe bananas (2 cups)
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons at Boulder altitude, 5400 ft.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots or dried pineapple
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nuts you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8″ x  4″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla, bananas, egg, and lemon juice.

In a medium bowl stir together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing to just combine. Stir in the dried fruit and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan. Gently thump the pan on the counter to settle any bubbles. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pan, and finish cooling on a rack. Don’t try to slice it while warm; it will fall apart.

Store at room temperature for 2 days. After that, refrigerate or freeze. Because of the high moisture in quick breads, they grow mold within a few days.

Multigrain Cherry Pancakes

cherry pancakes - 1

Yum, pancakes! Traditionally made with blueberries but I decided to mix it up with some of the lovely cherries on sale in my local supermarket. If you don’t want to deal with pitting sweet cherries, you can find them canned. Look for the sweet cherries in light syrup and make sure to drain off the syrup and pat dry before using.

Cherries and almonds are a great combination. If you don’t have almond extract, you can substitute vanilla.

It’s important that you allow the batter to rest and hydrate for about 10 minutes. This is a good time to heat up your griddle.

Sweet Cherry Pancakes
(makes 14-16 4″ pancakes)

1 1/4 cups + 3 Tablespoons rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder (2 1/4 tsp. at sea level)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoon butter, melted and cooled to warm
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 pound sweet cherries, pitted & cut into 1/2’s or 1/4’s
non-stick cooking spray

Process 1 1/4 cups rolled oats the food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Add rest of oats, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, butter, and almond extract. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in cherries. Set aside while you heat up the griddle.

Heat up griddle over medium heat. When the griddle is hot (a drop of water will skitter across it), spray with cooking spray. To make 4″ pancakes, drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. They are ready to flip when the bottom is a rich brown, the edges are set, and bubbles pop and set on the surface. Cook until rich brown. Serve hot, preferably straight out of the griddle, with maple syrup (because it’s so yummy). These can be refrigerated and reheated in the toaster oven or microwave oven but they are never as good as hot out of the griddle.

Based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Tis the season for pumpkin, pumpkin pancakes

 

Is everything pumpkin this time of year? Seems so. Last month’s Trader Joe’s flyer was pages of pumpkin. Why not jump on the bandwagon?

This is a tasty way to use up part of a can of pumpkin puree, something that I find shows up in my fridge this time of year. Again, my pancakes are not very sweet. You can serve them with maple syrup or honey to sweeten them up.

You can also use pumpkin pie spice instead of the separate spices in the recipe, if you have that in your pantry. Use 1 Tablespoon to replace the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.

You don’t need to add the granola (see photo below), but it adds some nice crunch. I like using Nature’s Path Pumpkin-Flax Granola but you can use whatever granola you have, including my recipe made with some pumpkin seeds. 🙂

Don’t crowd these pancakes because that makes them harder to flip

Pumpkin Pancakes

(serves 5-6)
Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour (can use 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder*
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves
Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 cups low fat buttermilk
oil for greasing griddle
about 1 cup pumpkin seed granola (optional)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, fat, and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin puree and buttermilk. Stir in the dry ingredients until the flour is incorporated with the wet ingredients. Some small lumps are OK.

Heat a well-seasoned or non-stick griddle over medium heat. Brush lightly with vegetable oil. Use a scant ¼ cup for each pancake, spreading out the batter to a 4″ circle. It’s fairly thick so it doesn’t spread much on its own. Sprinkle on about 1 Tablespoon of granola, if desired. Don’t crowd them in the pan. They can be tricky to flip. Flip when the bottom is nicely browned and the edges have set. Repeat greasing and pancake-making until batter is gone. Serve hot with maple syrup or honey. They are best hot from the griddle, like all pancakes. But if you find you have extra, they can be refrigerated and reheated, either in the oven at 300°F or in the microwave.

* This is the proper amount for Boulder elevation, about a mile high. If you live at sea level, use 1½ teaspoons baking powder. The amount of baking soda does not need to be adjusted.

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.