Sunday, January 22, 2012

Culinary Chronicles: Sourdough for a Small Kitchen-- Vanilla Almond Scones

It's all well and good to bake bread with your sourdough starter, but what about when your kitchen is so small that making bread is just a hassle?  These days I'm working with two feet of counter space, and a tiny apartment-sized electric oven.  If I can't mix something up in one bowl, I just don't have room to make it.  And just try to get your tiny apartment grade oven to reach 500 degrees, much less hold that temperature for an hour in order to get a good crust.  Impossible.  As a result, my sourdough starter was suffering from neglect.  My go-to pancake recipe is great, but there are only so many pancakes a girl can eat, no matter how foolproof they are.  So when I had a scone craving a few weeks ago, I immediately looked for a sourdough scone recipe.  And then I modified it, of course.  

I don't really like soggy fruit in my scones, and anything too sweet limits their ability to be eaten throughout the day.  My go to recipe has just a hint of vanilla, and little or no sugar in the dough, but some sprinkled on top.  In this case I have lots of blanched almonds that I failed to use up in Christmas baking, so I threw a cup of those in.  But that's the great thing about scones, start with a basic recipe, and add whatever you like.  The result were delicious and moist, and perfect for eating with a flavorful goat cheese and sweet lime jalepeno jelly, that I've been buying from a local producer.

Sourdough Scones (Vanilla and Almond in this case) adapted from this recipe
(Makes 6 to 8 scones)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (or less depending on taste preferences)
3 Tbsp cold butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 Tbsp vanilla + 1 tsp for topping
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 - 2 Tbsp of milk or egg for tops
coarse sugar for tops

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix together all of the dry ingredients, including almonds.  Add in the cubes of butter and cut in with a pastry blender or a knife (or in a food processor) until the mixture starts to hold together when pressed.  Add 1 Tbsp vanilla to the sourdough starter, then add the starter to the dry ingredients and mix lightly so that it forms a soft dough.  If you were going to add fruit such as raspberries or blueberries, do so now.  The key to scones is not to mix too much.  The ingredients should remain as separate as possible while still holding together.  If the mixture seems too dry, add a teaspoon of milk or water.  Repeat as necessary.  On a lightly floured board, pat dough into a rectangle about a half-inch thick.  Cut into eight squares and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Brush on milk or egg (mixed with the remaining tsp of vanilla) and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the tops turn golden.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Morning: Nearly Perfect Breakfast

Yum, soft boiled eggs, tangerines, toast with sweet lime jalapeno jelly and Tour de France tea (like Earl Grey but with jasmine added).  Plus a lovely interiors magazine.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been enjoying it on a sunny terrace on vacation in a foreign country.  Happy + relaxing Sunday to you!