In the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…
Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.
The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.
That is, assuming you’re an American.
True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.
The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.
When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.
By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.
This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”
Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.
So let’s get started.
- 1Tbsp baking powder
- 2C flour
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1/2C sugar
- 1/2C butter
- 1 egg
- 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
- 1tsp vanilla
The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…
The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl
If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.
Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…
Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.
The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.
The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.
The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.
The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!
Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.
Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.
A few options include the following…
Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.
Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient
Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients
Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.
Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…
- Brown butter icing
- Cream cheese frosting
- Lemon curd
- Lemon icing
- Maple icing
- Orange icing
- Powdered sugar glaze
- Raspberry icing
- Salted caramel frosting
Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…
Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….
- Chocolate chips
- Toasted coconut
The Prep Work
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Stick your butter in the freezer.
The Dry Ingredients
Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.
…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.
Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.
Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..
Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.
Working with the Dough
I am so not a morning person…I do not function well until I have had at least two pots of coffee.
So anything I can do the night before—such as make school lunches, lay out clothes, and so forth—I try to always do this the night before.
Heaven forbid that I stand up for how long making slice after slice of French toast.
Fortunately there is an awesome way to make French toast the night before.
In fact, not only does this make ahead French toast casserole allow you not to stand any more than you have to…to serve everyone at the same time…to make rushing out the door even easier because you already have breakfast made…
Refrigerating this casserole overnight allows the bread to soak up the custard and makes the dish taste even better than it would have otherwise.
The perfect French toast has a sweet custard-like flavor, the texture of ordinary French toast, a crispy layer of streusel topping on top, and just the right amount of cinnamon.
- 1 loaf crusty bread—such as French bread, sourdough, challah, brioche or ciabatta
- 6 eggs
- 1-1/2C milk
- 1-1/4C brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar (don’t leave it out, trust me)
- 1Tbsp vanilla
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 4Tbsp melted butter
- 3Tbsp brown sugar
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1/2tsp nutmeg
- Dried cranberries
- Maple syrup
- Powdered sugar
- Fruit…such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, pineapple, or bananas
1. Bread….Pretty much anything other than normal sandwich bread will end up making an even better French toast casserole. Save that for your kid’s lunchbox peanut butter jelly sandwich that you have to make each night instead.
If you do use loaf bread, your casserole will typically end up tasting soggy and lacking texture.
Instead, explore with other options—such as challah or brioche.
Choose breads that are “crusty”…the crust will add texture to your dish.
Your French toast casserole will also taste much better if you use stale bread, instead of freshly baked….(another reason to make this casserole, right…as you clean out your pantry or make out your next grocery list and find that bread that you forgot that you bought sitting there just begging to be eaten)…
Cream Cheese…Cream cheese is optional…(wait, in a Southern girl’s world, c ream cheese is NEVER optional, right, Paula?!)..but if you do choose to use cream cheese, be sure that you use only a high quality full-fat cream cheese, such as Philadelphia brand.
2. Milk...Whole milk will give your casserole the richest taste and texture.
3. Powdered Sugar...Powdered sugar is another optional ingredient…at least for anyone not both in the Deep South.
Tear bread into cubes. Place the bread in a warm oven for minutes to dry slightly.
Spray your 9×13 with cooking spray.
Layer half of the bread into a 9×13.
Combine flour, eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour this on top of the bread.
Top with the remaining bread.
To make the struesel…Combine melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Pour the struesel evenly over the top of the casserole.
You can go ahead and bake it at this point…or you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it.
If you are going to go ahead and bake your dish now, wait about twenty minutes first so that your bread can soak up the cream cheese mixture..
When you are ready to bake the dish…
Preheat oven to 350.
Cover dish with foil.
Bake for 20min.
Bake 20min…until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…
You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…
Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.
Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…
But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.
The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.
- 1Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2gsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2C buttermilk
- 1/4C butter
- 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
- 1/3C vegetable oil
- 1/2C cornstarch
- 1-1/2C flour
- 3/4C sugar
The Waffle Iron
So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.
If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…
- cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
- fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
- size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
- temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.
Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.
Preheat Your Waffle Iron
Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.
The “Dry” Ingredients
Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.
(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.
First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.
Now add your sugar,
Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.
The “Wet” Ingredients
Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.
The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with to a cup of milk.
Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.
At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.
So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.
When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.
You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.
So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..
Anyway…how do we do this?
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
- Mix together until smooth.
- Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
- Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
Cooking the Pancakes
Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,
Close the lid.
Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon. Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..
Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.
The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you
Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.
Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.
Keeping Your Waffles Warm
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.
Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.
Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.
And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.
Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.
Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .
Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after
Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.
- n2C flour
- ¼C sugar
- 4tsp baking powder
- ½tsp salt
- 2tsp vanilla
- 1½C milk
- 1 egg
- ¼C melted butter
Mix together these dry ingredients.
You can do this with either a whisk or a Mason jar.
You want to go ahead and mix your dry ingredients enough to get rid of any lumps at this stage in order to avoid big lumps….and because later you will need to avoid over-mixing the batter once you add the wet to the dry,
The Baking Powder…Be sure to check the expiration date on the baking powder canister. If your baking powder is old or expired, your pancakes will not right…and will end up flat, instead of light and fluffy.
If you would like even fluffier pancakes, feel free to double the amount of baking powder.
You might also want to try using only 2tsp of baking powder and then adding 1/2tsp baking soda.
The Flour…Spoon your flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the flour canister with a measuring cup, like most of us do…including me.
Scooping the flour causes your measuring cup to be filled with too much flour, often resulting in tough pancakes.
Don’t restrict yourself to only using all-purpose flour…be adventuresome by swapping out half of the flour with another type of flour—such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oat, or gluten-free.
Mason Jar Method
You can also use a Mason jar to shake your ingredients together.
To do this, layer your wet ingredients first—milk, egg, and oil…and then your dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a wide-mouth quart-sized jar. Seal the jar tightly . Shake the jar vigorously for at least two minutes…until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, you can either cook pancakes immediately or stick the jar in the fridge for later.
To make your pancakes, simply pour the batter straight from the jar onto your griddle or pan…and cook them…(more on that later)…
Combine your liquid ingredients.
The Butter…Using unsalted butter allows youu to control the taste of your pancakes better..
The Buttermilk...Butttermilk is what makes your pancakes tenderest. If you do not want to use milk or buttermilk, use water, coffee, or juice as your liquid base instead…reducing the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe by.one-fourth of the amount.
The Eggs…Bringing your eggs to room temp before mixing into your batter will give you the best results.
To make your pancakes even fluffier, take the time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. …beat your egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form…and finally fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.
You should have already whisked your dry ingredients together before you added in the wet ingredients…so you should be able to combine your wet ingredients and dry ingredients together very easily.
Now gently fold your dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.
Stir until the flour is moist, but there are still a few small clumps of flour.
.Do not over-mix the batter. It’s okay to leave some lumps in the batter.
If you overmix the batter, you will end up with tough and dense pancakes, not fluffy.
At this point, you should add any ingredients that you would like to add to your batter…such as…
- Banana…one mashed ripe banana
- Cream cheese…3oz finely chopped cream cheese
Lemon…1tsp grated lemon peel
- Orange…1tsp grated orange peel
Pecans…1/2C…toast and chop finely
- Walnuts…1/2C…toast and chop finely
Resting Your Batter
Now that all of your ingredients have become friends, it’s time to rest your batter. What does it mean to “rest” your batter?
To rest your batter means to simply leave it alone for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The longer you rest your batter, the better your pancakes will turn out…
Why should you “rest” your batter?
Resting your batter will…
- dissolve any small lumps
- give the baking powder enough time to activate
- give the flour a chance to absorb liquid in the batter
As far as what kind of pan to use when making pancakes, the best option is an electric griddle…
An electric non-stick griddle makes flipping your pancakes much easier.
But if you’d rather cook your pancakes on top of the stove or don’t have an electric griddle, use a large, about 12,” non-stick skillet with sloping slides….preferably cast iron.
Cast iron will give you even heat distribution allow you to brown your pancakes without having to use tons of butter.
Heating the Pan
Heat your pan or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles..
Heat a little bit of vegetable oil…(for other types of oils to cook with, check this previous post out)…
Avoid using regular butter because the butter will be more likely to burn and make your pancakes turn out funky tasting.
Reduce heat to medium-low.
Muffins can be another healthy breakfast food…
…but store-bought tend to be fairly calorie-dense, usually contain preservatives and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, and tend to be very high in sugar…oversized nutritional disasters packed with tons of calories and fat and little protein.
Instead make your own muffins…they are so easy to bake and freeze in bulk…not to mention cheaper.
The following base recipe allows you to be creative by adding different fruits or nuts…and is totally sugar, oil, and gluten free.
Fruits and nuts may add calories, but are worth it. Dried or fresh fruits…such as raisins, cherries, blueberries, apples…are packed with antioxidants. Nuts…such as walnuts, pecans, almonds… provide heart-healthy fats.
The carbs in the whole-grain flour will help fuel your muscles, and the high fiber will keep you feeling full.The substitution of applesauce for oil reduces the fat content of the muffins.
2C whole-grain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4C ground flaxseeds
2tsp baking powder
3 ripe bananas
1/2C unsweetened apple sauce
1C unsweetened almond milk
1/2C dried, fresh, or frozen fruit (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Fill a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cups.Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slightly beat the eggs. Mix in the milk and applesauce. Add wet ingredients to the dry mix. Stir until just combined, sprinkling in the nuts or fruit. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until muffin tops are golden brown.
I am definitely NOT a morning person…
Yet every morning I am expected to provide a healthy and satisfying breakfast for the “resident five year old” every single morning…and that most likely does not mean tossing him a granola bar on the way out the door and expecting him to eat it in the car on the way to school…(actually it’s simply a walk across the street since we just moved)…
I have found that, like any other meal, making many breakfast foods at one time is so much smarter than every single morning having to decide what to make and then taking the time to actually make it.
Doing this can not only save you time, but can also mean that you are eating healthier meals in general.
The perfect breakfast sandwiches are healthy, hearty and satisfying…contain your choice of the perfect ingredients—such as English muffins, scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese…cheaper because you are not forking out how much money to drive through and grab a breakfast that consists of the same exact ingredients that you already had at home.…not to eve mention the fact that these homemade breakfast sandwiches have no processed and unhealthy ingredients…unlike the breakfast sandwiches you would get at a fast food joint on your way to work—such as the Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s. Rather, they
…and finally they are very easy to make…simply consisting of delicious ingredients—such as crisp and buttery English muffins eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Sprasy 9″x13″ with nonstick cooking spray.
Baking your eggs instead of frying them will make them softer, more fluffy, and moister.
To bake your eggs…
- Whisk the first six ingredients listed above together in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour mixture into a greased 9×12 pan.
If you really are concerned about the shape of your egg “patties” and only want them to be circles…instead of squares…you could bake them in 10oz round ramekins with one egg per cup….and then bake for about fiftteen minutes.
- Bake for about twenty minutes…be careful not to overcook the eggs…you want to cook them just until the center is set because the egg will cook more when you reheat your sandwich…and if you cook the eggs too much, they will be tough.
- Let the eggs cool.
- Cut them into twelve squares.
To make your breakfast sandwiches better for you…use egg whites, not the entire egg. This redeuces the cholesterol content and number of overall calories.
As for the meat, you have several options—such as sausage, bacon. Canadian bacon, and ham.
To make your breakfast sandwiches healthier, you could use low sodium, sugar free ham or turkey.
To cook your meat…
- Place the bacon or sausage on a large baking pan.
- Bake for ten to fifteen minutes, alojng with eggs that we have just talked about.
- Cook until the meat has cooked through and the bacon is crispy.
- Set cooked meat on paper towel to drain some of the excess grease off.
Choose a cheese that melts well and will complement the other ingredients.
As far as the bread, you can use whatever you’d like—such as bagels, English muffins, or sandwich thins.
To toast them…
- Slice the bread and place the halves on large baking sheet.
- Brush butter evenly over the top of each slice.
- Bake for about five minutes…until crisp and slightly toasted on the top.
To make your sandwiches healthier,
- avoid breads that claim to be bleached, enriched, or enhanced
- choose breads that contain at least three grams of fiber per serving.
- look for breads that list whole grains or whole wheat as the first ingredient
Adding vegetables to your breakfast sandwiches will not only add valuable vitamins, minerals, and fiber…but will also help the sandwich seem even more hearty!
Add any vegetables you like—such as mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, zucchini—to the eggs before baking.
Lay down square sheets of aluminum foil for each sandwich…one that is big enough to hold one sandwich each.
Then put a layer of Saran Wrap on top of that.
Layer the ingredients in the following order…
- Bread…English muffin or bagel half
- Cheese…about 1/2 ounce per person
- Meat…about two ounces
- Bread…English muffin or bagel half
- Wrap the sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap, then again tightly in the foil.
Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
If you are planning on eating your breakfast sandwich right away, bake the sandwich at 350 degrees for about five minutes…until the cheese melts.
Now that you have finished assembling and wrapping each sandwich, it’s time to stick them in the freezer with whatever other frozen assets you have added to your freezer meal account…(more ideas later)…
Place the sandwiches in a gallon-size freezer-bag or in an airtight storage container.
You could also keep them in your refrigerator up to a week.They will stay good in your freezer for up to three months….assuming that they haven’t all been eaten before then.
You could also keep them in your refrigerator up to a week.
These Breakfast Sandwiches can be reheated both while they are still frozen…and if they have been thawed out first.
You could also reheat these freezer breakfast sandwiches in a toaster oven or regular oven….using common sense to know whey they are heated through.
Once they have been reheated, you could add any additional ingredients/toppings that you would like—such as salad greens, avocado, your favorite sauce, mayonnaise, guacamole, Sriracha, Tabasco hot sauce, sliced avocado, fresh spinach leaves, freshly sliced tomatoes—so that it won’t seem so much like a freezer meal.
To reheat them while they are still frozen…
- Microwave…Remove sandwich from wrapper. Wrap loosely with a paper towel. Microwave for 1.5 minutes, Flip, Microwazve another 1.5 minutes. Let it stand for one minute…until the sandwich is hot all the way through and the cheese is melted.
- Oven…Preheat oven to 350. Place frozen breakfast sandwich in the oven for about fifteen minutes.
To reheat them if they are already thawed out…:
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, Remove wrapper. Placesandwich on paper towel-lined plate. Microwave one minute or just until hot.