[Betsy of a Plate Full of Happiness tagged me for a game of Cinco de Mayo tag. I kind of missed it but it seemed like so much fun (and I was so excited about my Cinco de Mayo recipe) that I figured better late than never! So, here's my Holiday Treat, Betsy.]
Is there one particular item in your cooking repertoire that defines you? The one thing that you don't dare show up to an event unless you have a tray/ plate/ dish of. The most requested item. For my dad, it is his beef stew. For my mom, it's her fruit salad. For my neighbor down the road, taco salad. It seems like everyone has one of "those" dishes. I am not sure if it because the items are that good (which they usually are) or if it's just because we are creatures of habit and we like knowing what to expect. Hmmmm....
Any way - back to my story that I just kind of steered away from... (Ok, I strayed a long way from that path. How do I ever make it back?)
Oh yeah. Food item. Must make. Concentrate, Cher. Concentrate. Bangs head on desk.
Ah yes. Scones. For some reason I have turned into the "scone lady" at work. I work in one of those offices where every holiday is a food occasion - sign up sheets, decorations & everything (which is a whole other post if I am ever feeling brave enough...). Where people get to choose what they want to bring in. In honor of the occasion. Well, most people do.
It started with these. And then I moved on to these, these, and these. I am sure there were others thrown in the mix somewhere too. And now. I have a reputation.
I am not complaining - its not like its the worst reputation a girl could have. (I could be the crazy cat lady or the woman who runs around with toilet paper on the bottom of her shoe and has no clue - that would be so much worse...)
And apparently, I take
command performances requests. Like the karaoke man. Except instead of being asked to play 1980's big hair band songs, the "food committee" stops in my office doorway. For real. "You haven't signed up yet. I hope you are bringing scones." "You do realize that it is XYZ holiday and this would be an appropriate flavor scone." Seriously.
When Cinco de Mayo rolled around, I was going to sneak in a bean soup. Or an avocado dish. Or something fruity. A few days before the occasion, I heard my name as I was walking toward the copier. I turned around to see a set of eyes staring at me. Imploring. "Aren't you going to make scones? Jalapeno-cheddar would be nice." Blink. Stare. Gulp. "Uh, I guess so." Snagged.
So I "googled" and perused and selected what I thought would be a sure winner. And this is what drew me in - eggs were substituted in for a portion of the dairy. Genius. What a great way to make a lighter, more tender product. I made a test batch (I wasn't going to ruin my scone-prowess reputation on an untried recipe) and sure enough, they were perfect. Just perfect. At which point, I finally decided to let go of my grudge and celebrate in that moment of "baker's glory" - you know, that moment when you experience pure kitchen harmony. I know you all have had it. There's no feeling quite like it.
Oh, and I have finally decided to embrace my role as chief scone maker... Life will just be that much simpler that way. For sure.
Adapted (with only minimal changes) from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
8 Tbs (one stick) COLD butter, diced into 16 pieces (if you give it one more chop and make it 32, even better...) + 1/2 Tbs for the saute pan
1/2 COLD heavy cream
2 eggs (COLD) + 1 more egg to use as egg wash
4 oz sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes (we're making scones - so if you think pinky finger sized, you're on track)
2 jalepeno peppers, minced (vein and seeds removed - don't skimp on the jalley's, there's not a lot of heat from them)
Before I get into the how's and what's I just wanted to give a few hints on what makes the difference between a tender, flaky scone and well, a door stop. But don't be scared - because anyone can make a good scone. Pinky swear. Here's what I think the secret(s) is: 1) Cold is your friend - start with cold ingredients. Why? Because. 2) Use the food processor. Why? It helps keep the butter from warming up and breaking down. It cuts in the ingredients just so. 3) More cold. Refrigerate the dough before you bake it. Why? It's all about helping the butter do it's job in the oven... Cross my heart. Ok. Moving along...
In a small skillet, heat a 1/2 Tbs of butter until melted. Saute the jalapenos until they are soft and just start to brown. Keep the heat gentle... Drain onto a paper towl and let cool. Once cooled, mix with the cheese and 1 Tbs of the flour in a medium sized bowl (take your Tbs out of the 2 cups...).
In the bowl of the food processor, mix the remaining flour, baking soda & salt with a few pulses of the processor. Add the butter a few pieces at a time - pulsing in short bursts - until the butter is incorporated. (By doing it in stages, you will have different size pieces of butter - this is a good thing).
In a small bowl, lightly whip together two eggs and the heavy cream. Add this your liquid mixture to the flour and give a few pulses until things just barely begin to come together (keep the mixture loose - there is still work to be done). Turn the dough out into the bowl with the cheese and peppers and stir together. Give the mixture a few short kneads to make sure everything comes together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a disc that is about 3/4" to 1' thick and cut into 8 pieces (triangle shaped). Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat OR if you have a scone pan, place into the greased sections.
Now...here is where patience pays off. Cover the shaped scones and place them in the refrigerator. Overnight is best, but if you are super impatient, you can leave them in there for the length of time it takes your oven to preheat. But try the whole patience thing. Please?
When it's time to bake, preheat the oven to 400F. Take the remaining egg and beat slightly. When oven reaches temperature, remove the scones from the 'fridge and brush the tops with the egg wash. Place the pan in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes - until golden brown on top and the sides of the scone stop looking moist. Rotate the pan half way through the baking time if you remember....
Cool slightly and remove from pan. Place on a cooling rack if you like, or... if you want to earn brownie points with the co-workers - line a basket with cloth napkins or a clean dish towel and place the still warm scones in and cover with another clean towel (or cloth napkin). Drive very quickly to work and place the still warm scones in a common area. You will be a hero - for at least five or ten minutes. Until they are gone. And then the mob will beat down your door to make more. True story.
And now for some final catching up... I owe a few thank yous to some most excellent & sweet bloggers... I know that some of these are WAAAAAYYY (like months) overdue... Like I am so NOT the person you want to leave in charge of writing thank you notes for your wedding. My apologies for being such a goober and my poor etiquette. It's not my mom's fault. I was raised better. I promise.
So... thank you to the charming Ms. Hobby of In Pursuit of Hobby
Another thank you to lovely Ryan of Ryan Bakes
And last, but not least thank you to the dear, sweet Kathy of Bake Away with Me
Thank you to all these ladies for adding a bright spot to my day.