bacon cheddar scones

bacon cheese scone 1

so I’m a self-confessed scone fanatic.

they’re just so versatile – perfect as breakfast, as an afternoon tea accompaniment, even as a dinner accompaniment. (for real though, scones + salad = winning combination.)

they also freeze up great, which is both bad (my freezer is now one-fourth occupied by various scones) and good (now a flaky, butter-laden treat is only a 25-minute bake away!) …and bad (now a flaky, butter-laden treat is only a 25-minute bake away!) .

anyways, over the years, I’ve run the gamut of scone flavor combinations, from ill-received matcha-pomegranate scones (I loved them! even if no one else did) to caraway-blueberry scones. but somehow, I’ve never done a full-on savoury scone. 

in general, scone recipes are sweet. it seems that in the great scone-biscuit divide, biscuits claimed a place at the dinner table while scones took over breakfast (and brunch became the uneasy DMZ, if you would).

but what if I told you that there existed a scone recipe with the perfect balance of sweet and savoury? the refreshing tang of crème fraîche and the golden melted chewiness of cheddar and the addicting smoked saltiness of bacon – all in one scone? yeah, it sounded crazy, overwhelming, impossible to me too.

presenting the solution to brunch with friends who claim to dislike sweets (but really, who are these people?!), the solution to that pastry craving that hits at dinner time. if scones are versatile, these bacon cheddar scones are the da vinci of scones – all-around perfection, and perfect for just about any occasion. 

bacon cheese scone 2
makes 12 scones

3/4 cup + 1 tsp (107g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup + 1/2tbsp (196g) cake flour
1 1/2 + 1/8 tsp (8g) baking powder
3/8 tsp (1.5g) baking soda
2 tbsp + 3/4 tsp (27g) granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp (3.5g) kosher salt
9 tbsp + 1 tsp (132g) cold unsalted butter, in 1/4-in cubes
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp (71g) heavy cream
1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp (89g) crème fraîche
12 oz (340g) smoked bacon, cooked, drained, and cut into 1/8-in pieces (~77g cooked weight)
2 + 1/2 cups (144 + 36g) grated white cheddar, divided
1/4 cup (10g) minced chives
freshly-ground black pepper

thomas keller and sebastien rouxel. bouchon bakery. new york: artisan, 2012

1 sift all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix on lowest setting for a few seconds to combine. add salt and mix again to combine.
2 stop the mixer, add butter, and on the lowest setting, mix until butter is well-coated in flour. increase the speed to low and mix to break up butter and incorporate it into the flour until butter is pea-sized (~3 minutes).
3 with the mixer running, slowly pour in the cream. add the crème fraîche and continue mixing until all dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together around the paddle (~30 seconds). scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for a few more seconds until well-combined.
4 add bacon, 144g cheese, and the chives and mix again on low until incorporated.
5 mound the dough on a plastic-wrapped work surface and, using the heal of your hand or a pastry scraper, push the dough together. place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough and using your hands, press the dough into a 7×9-in block, smoothing the top. press the sides of your hands or pastry scraper against the sides of the dough to straighten them. wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (~2 hours).
6 line a sheet pan with parchment paper. cut the block of dough lengthwise in half, then cut each half into six rectangles. arrange them on prepared sheet pan, lover with plastic wrap, and freeze until frozen solid (~2 hours, preferably overnight). scones can be frozen up to 1 month.
7 preheat convention oven to 325ºF (350ºF in standard oven). line sheet pan with parchment paper. arrange frozen scones 1-in apart on sheet pan. brush tops with cream and sprinkle with remaining 36g cheese. top with black pepper. bake for 24-27 minutes (33-36 min in standard oven), until golden brown. set sheet on cooling rack and cool completely before serving. (scones can be stored in covered container for one day.)

 
*time saver tip: I froze a few scones after sprinkling them with cheese and black pepper, then baked them up a week later. they come out with a golden-brown cheese topping as well, though the cheese does not spread as much as it did when baked from room temperature.

pumpkin cheesecake brownies

pumpkin cheesecake brownie 2

before I moved out of the dorms my junior year, I fancied myself to be a fairly good baker. time has since taught me that I gratuitously overestimated my abilities. case in point: twice I experimented with pumpkin desserts, and twice I failed.

senior year of high school, I was gifted a terrible compilation of “essential baking recipes”. with characteristic stubbornness, I kept trying failed recipe after failed recipe until, after the worst banana bread ever created (seriously, how did the book author mess up banana bread?!), I threw the book away. but alas, before I did so, I tried a cinnamon sweet potato muffin recipe, and gifted the muffins to teachers who I hoped would write my college recommendations.

sometimes people ask me if I wish I’d done anything differently in high school. pretty high on my list: don’t give tasteless, mildly mushy baked goods to people who could decide your future.

my second attempt was a brownie swirled with pumpkin purée – basically a sadder, blander version of these amazing pumpkin cheesecake brownies from baked occasions. my friend had invited me to hang out with his beautiful actor-dancer friends. these kids were a few weeks out from winter showcases and what did I bring them? some calorie-loaded gifts. suffice to say they were not a hit. as one girl muttered under her breath, “I’m not wasting my calories on this.” (rude, but accurate.)

since then, I’ve learned quite a bit: first, pumpkin purée can be quite bland, and as the starbucks pumpkin spice latte has taught me, much of the so-called “pumpkin” flavor comes instead from the spices. second, when pumpkin is involved, you can never have too much cinnamon. third, not everything has to be a success – learning to cook and bake has at times been incredibly humbling.

after all the wonderfully awkward social situations I’ve caused with fire alarms and hours-late birthday cakes and bad baked goods, I have learned much from my failures and have come to appreciate the successes that much more. fudgey and moist with creamy swirls of spiced pumpkin cheesecake throughout, these pumpkin cheesecake brownies are a real deal.

pumpkin cheesecake brownie 1
makes one 9•13in pan

pumpkin cheesecake
1 package (8oz/226g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (75g) sugar
3/4 cup (178g) pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
brownie
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (105g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz (225g) dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (85g) light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

matt lewis, renato poliafito. baked occasions.new york: stewart, tabori, and chang, 2014.

cheesecake|1 using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. add pumpkin, egg yolk, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger, and mix again until well-blended. cover and refrigerate while you make the brownie layer.
brownie|1 butter sides and bottom of 9x13in pan. if pan is light-colored/glass, preheat oven to 350ºF (I used a dark-colored pan at 330ºF.) line the pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
2 in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
3 place chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips) and butter in a large, heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (double-boiler method), stirring occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted smooth, and combined. turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars. whisk until completely combined, then remove bowl from pan. add two eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. add the remaining egg and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.
4 sprinkle flour mixture over chocolate mixture. using a spatula, fold them gently together until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
5 pour 2/3 brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth on top. pour the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over the brownies and smooth into an even layer. drop the remaining 1/3 brownie batter in heaping tablespoons on top of pumpkin layer. use a knife to gently pull through batters to create a swirl.
6 bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking time, for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs. let cool completely in the pan.
7 brownies can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
 

cinnamon honey scones

honey cinnamon scones 3

I’m starting to have the feeling that juniper kitchen is turning into a baking blog.

oops.

I had all these fun savories planned at some point when I first started juniper kitchen, but so many of them are dinner dishes, and with work and life and all, I never have time to shoot them in daylight. I’m also just too cheap to invest in nice photography indoor lighting gadgets – isn’t it just a little ridiculous that a white lightbulb covered with a thin sheet of plastic can cost $100?!

one day I’ll get around to tackling all the savory dishes that I cook but never photograph. but for now, here’s another sweet recipe, a scone elevated to ultra-luxurious levels of decadence by pastry genius sebastian rouxel. (you know if he’s part of thomas keller’s team, he’s gotta be pretty damn amazing.) it’s the best scone I’ve ever eaten, and best of all, they are supposed to be frozen so every time I’m feeling sad or hungry or just in the mood for a yummy scone (which is almost all the time, really), I just pop a couple in the oven and half an hour later, perfect scones!

they do take a while, but they are absolutely worth it. make the full recipe, freeze whatever dough you don’t bake that day, and have scones at your fingertips for months (or for weeks, or when the addiction really kicks in, for days…).

honey cinnamon scone diptych
makes twelve scones

cinnamon honey cubes
3 tbsp (30g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp (30g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp (4g) ground cinnamon
1oz (30g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in cubes
1 tbsp (20g) clover honey
plain scone dough
1 cup, 1 1/2 tbsp (152g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups, 2 tbsp (304g) cake flour
2 1/2 tsp (12.5g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5g) baking soda
1/4 cup, 3 1/2 tbsp (91g) granulated sugar
8oz (227g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in cubes
1/2 cup, 1 1/2 tbsp (135g) heavy cream
1/2 cup, 2 tbsp (135g) crème fraîche
honey butter glaze
3 tbsp, 2 tsp (45g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp (20g) clover honey

thomas keller and sebastien rouxel. bouchon bakery. new york: artisan, 2012.

cinnamon honey cubes|1 sift flour, sugar, and cinnamon into medium bowl and whisk to combine. toss in butter cutes, coating in flour mixture. using your fingertips, break up butter until there are no large visible pieces. using a spatula, mix in honey to form smooth paste. 2 press paste into 4-inch square on sheet of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and freeze until solid (~2 hours minimum).
plain scone dough|1 sift all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and granulated sugar into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix for ~15 seconds to combine. stop mixer, add butter, and on lowest setting (“stir” on kitchenaid), begin incorporating butter. increase speed to low (2 on kitchenaid) and mix for ~3 minutes to break up butter and incorporate it into dry mixture. keep mixing until all large pieces of butter are incorporated. 2 with mixture running, slowly pour in cream. add crème fraîche and mix for ~30 seconds, until dry ingredients are moistened and dough comes together around paddle. scrape down sides, add cinnamon honey cubes, and pulse to combine. 3 place dough between two pieces of plastic wrap on cool work surface and roll into a 6×9-in block. using hands, straighten the sides of the block. wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ~2 hours, until firm (sometimes I don’t refrigerate them and they turn out just fine). 4 using pizza cutter, cut dough in thirds lengthwise and in fourths crosswise. wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until solid (~2 hours minimum, can be frozen for one month). 5 preheat oven to 325ºF. line sheet pan with parchment paper and arrange scones 1-inch apart. bake for 20-23 minutes, until golden.
honey butter glaze|1 stir butter and honey together in small saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and combines with honey. brush over baked scones and let cool completely. (scones can be stored in covered container for one day)

lemon raspberry cake

lemon raspberry cake 1

on days like today, I don’t miss boston.

I remember waking up to white flakes, a black lump of dread slowly forming in my stomach. in many boston neighborhoods, you are responsible for shoveling yourself out of the snowy mess that buries sidewalks, cars, and any hope of sleeping in on the weekend. (because god forbid you sleep in and people walk on the sidewalk, pressing the snow into rock-hard slabs that must be slowly, painfully chipped away.)

but on other days, I remember the blazing hot summer days spent in boston, wandering the streets around kendall square, snacking in the numerous bakeries in the area (and inevitably ending up at hmart aka korean supermarket paradise). on many a weekend, I would end up at flour bakery, drowsing in the warmth as the sun set the counter aglow. my friends and i would chat and watch as the parade of hipsters, tech kids, old professor types, and professionals passed in front of the wide storefront windows (and sometimes we’d make up their life stories, often with bizarre and funny-only-to-us results). we would split a slice of lemon raspberry cake (my favorite), their bread pudding (also amazing), or their famous sticky buns, savoring the sweetness that tinged those lazy summer days.

dear boston, this cake is for you. there will be an end to the seemingly endless snow, and in the way boston weather sometimes works, summer will suddenly be upon you. but in the meanwhile, you can make this cake on a snow day and in the tang of the lemon curd and sweetness of the buttercream, taste the promise of spring.

lemon raspberry cake 2
makes one 9-inch, 2 layer cake

cake
6 tbsp (86g) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tbsp (75g) canola oil
1 (200g) + 1/3 (70g) cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest (~1 lemon)
3 cups (360g) cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (240g) milk, room temperature
6 egg whites (save 4 yolks!)
lemon curd
1 cup (240g) fresh lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
buttercream
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
3/4 cup (180g) water
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 cups (681g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 tsp kosher salt
lemon syrup
1/2 cup (120g) lemon juice, strained (2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup (120g) water
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 pint (260g) raspberries

joanne chang. flour: spectacular recipes from boston’s flour bakery cafe. san francisco: chronicle books, 2010.

cake|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. grease and line two 9-in round cake pans with parchment paper.
2 using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, oil, and 200g sugar for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula, mix for a few seconds more, then add vanilla and lemon zest.
3 sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. on low speed (~2 on kitchenaid), add 1/3 flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture, mix until incorporated. add 1 cup milk, mix until incorporated. repeat alternating additions until well-incorporated. scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula, mix a few seconds more, then transfer batter to large bowl.
4 clean mixer bowl well. using whip attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed (~6 on kitchenaid) for 3-4 minutes, until they hold soft peaks. on medium speed, slowly add remaining 70g sugar, whip for 1-2 minutes until whites are glossy, shiny, and hold hard peaks.
5 using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 whipped egg whites into batter to lighten it. gently fold in remaining egg whites. (don’t over mix! if the batter still appears lumpy, that is fine.) divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans.
6 bake for 25-30 minutes, until each cake layer pulls away from sides of pan and top starts to become pale golden and the middle springs back when lightly pressed. let cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, invert onto racks, peel off parchment, and let cool for another 2 hours, until completely cooled.
lemon curd|1 while cake layers bake, combine lemon juice, butter, and heavy cream in medium nonreactive (aka not aluminum) saucepan. in medium heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in sugar until combined. remove lemon juice mixture from heat and gradually whisk into sugar-egg mixture a little at a time, until incorporated.
2 when all hot liquid has been incorporated, return contents of bowl to saucepan and return saucepan to medium heat. stir continuously with wooden spoon, scraping bottom of pan frequently to prevent eggs from scrambling, for 5-8 minutes, until mixture thickens and thickly coasts spoon.
3 remove curd from heat and strain through fine-mesh sieve into bowl. whisk in salt and vanilla. cover tightly and refrigerate 1-2 hours, until cold. (can be made 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge.)
buttercream|1 in small saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil and cook, without stirring for 3-4 minutes. while sugar syrup boils, beat together eggs and egg yolks with a whip attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until pale and light.
2 remove sugar syrup from heat. on low speed, slowly pour syrup into eggs. turn speed to medium and whip for 6-8 minutes, until mixture turns light and fluffy, pale, and cool to touch. turn speed to low and add butter, a few chunks at a time. increase speed to medium and continue to whip for 4-5 minutes. (mixture will break and look curdled initially, but will become smooth and silky.)
3 add salt and whip until completely combined. (can be stored in fridge for 5 days, brought to room temperature, and whipped before using.)
syrup and assembly|1 in small saucepan, boil lemon juice, water, and sugar over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
2 scoop ~3 cups buttercream into medium bowl, add ~1/2 cup lemon curd, and whisk together until well-combined. Set aside ~1/2 cup curd and remaining buttercream.
3 using serrated knife, trim tops of cooled cakes to level them. place first layer on cake stand/plate and brush generously with 1/3 lemon syrup.
4 spoon ~1 cup curd-buttercream onto cake layer and use offset spatula to spread to the edges, forming a raised “flood wall” on the edge. carefully spread ~1/2 cup curd on top of buttercream. sprinkle half of raspberries evenly on top of curd.
5 carefully place second layer on top. brush with remaining lemon syrup. place in fridge to set for an hour.
6 remove cake from fridge and cover entire cake with a ~1 cup buttercream in a thin layer – the crumb coat. refrigerate once again for ~30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
7 decorate the cake with ~1 1/2 cups buttercream. spread the remaining 1/2 cup curd on top of the cake in a thin layer. garnish the top with raspberries. (cake can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for 2 days.)

use leftover buttercream and curd to make cupcakes!