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.

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garlic potato purée

mash potato 2

in the modern age, “looks good enough to eat” takes on significant meaning – emphasis on the word “looks”.

the first cookbook I ever used was the dean and deluca cookbook, a paperback publication void of any pictures. as evidenced by its stained pages and creased binding, my family loved that cookbook. in it is the recipe for our usual holiday mashed potatoes, which we have used for the past decade.

presently, it is unheard of for a cookbook to have no pictures, and people rely heavily on how food looks as an indicator of how it tastes, especially when choosing recipes online. I admit to totally judging food by its appearance, but am also amused by the lengths to which some photographers go to make a dish look more attractive. there’s the small stuff – spritz salad with oil to give it that sheen, arrange the accoutrements ever-so-artistically atop a soup, twirl the pasta enticingly around a perfectly polished fork. then there’s the ridiculous – I recently tried a coq au vin recipe whose photograph promised a rich burgundy shade of stew. either those people dumped in a tablespoon or two of utterly unnecessary red food coloring or someone got a little overzealous adjusting the colors on photoshop. the dish itself tasted amazing, but came out rather brown (which, in retrospect, is the absolutely correct color for a wine-flavored chicken stew).

as I planned out the thanksgiving menu this year, I abandoned the traditional mashed potato recipe, seduced by the glossy pages of thomas keller’s ad hoc at home and the promise of consuming a premier chef’s (side) dish without having to sell an organ. as I plated the garlic potato purée (better known by its plebeian moniker, “mashed potatoes,”) and preparing to photograph them, one of my cousins asked what I was doing. “I’m creating more surfaces for shadows, to take a better photo,” I replied, while gently pressing creases into the swirls of mashed potato with a wooden spoon. (yes, it looked just as ridiculous as it sounds.) in my opinion, keller’s recipe is superior to dean and deluca’s – faster, involving less human labor, and with a more complex flavor profile thanks to the chives. but dean and deluca’s has this awesome punch of roasted garlic flavor – something that is impossible to capture in a photograph.

at dinner, the mashed potatoes were well-received. but then again, so was the stuffing, butt-ugly burnt edges be damned.

mash potato
makes 6 servings

1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup canola oil
4 lb large yukon gold potatoes
kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp minced chives

thomas keller. ad hoc at home. new york: artisan books, 2009.

1 cut off and discard root ends of garlic cloves. place cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by 1 inch.
2 set saucepan over low heat. cook the garlic gently; very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but should not break the surface. cook garlic for ~40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cloves are completely tender. remove the saucepan from heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.
3 meanwhile, place potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of cold water. season water with 1/4 cup salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
4 adjust heat as necessary to maintain very gentle simmer and cook for ~20 minutes, until tender enough to purée. drain potatoes in a colander and let them steam until cool enough to peel.
5 heat the cream over low heat in a heavy saucepan; keep warm.
6 in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add one-quarter of the potatoes, top with 1 pieces of butter and one-quarter of the garlic, and purée. repeat with remaining potatoes, butter, and garlic in 3 batches.
7 warm potatoes in saucepan over medium heat. as they heat, whip the cream into potatoes. season to taste with salt and pepper and fold in chives. transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining chives, and top with a dollop of butter.

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)