Coffee shop treats
Story and photos by Angie Sutton
My latest bad habit is latte. Iced latte. Double latte. Triple latte on special days when I just really need it. Sometimes I use it as a caveat to surviving certain things like, “If I make it through this dental appointment…”
It’s not so much just the creamy-steamed-milk-espresso that delights my palate that keeps me coming back, but the whole coffee shop experience. The intense, robust smell of roasted beans being freshly ground welcomes me the moment I walk in the door. I see cozy little tables of friends buzzing with conversation over a steaming cup of some concoction. In the corner a corporate-suit-clad gent stares intensely at a laptop computer screen, having escaped the confines of his office to a quieter location. Sleep-deprived students appear to be studying while consuming caffeinated beverages. After a moment or two of observation I head to the counter to order.
And there it is. The brightly-lit, glass-encased showcase of goodies that I can’t pass up. Quick breads, scones, coffee bread, muffins and other things delectable are neatly displayed for selection. Sometimes I buy them. OK, most of the time I buy them. They even ask if I’d like them warmed up.
However, this habit can become a bit expensive so I’ve been making these yummies at home. The best part is I have enough to share. When preparing equipment and ingredients for making scones, ensure they are all as cool as possible, including your hands. Butter should be very cold but not frozen. Warm hands, ingredients and equipment may melt the butter rather than it being mixed in, resulting in heavy scones. Work quickly and avoid over kneading the scone mixture. The mixture does not need to be super-smooth, it needs simply to be pulled together in a light, pliable dough. You can also sift the flour several times to add air with the result being a lighter, fluffy texture.
Chocolate Chip Scones
King Arthur Flour suggests using lower protein pastry flour for scones. All-purpose flour works but your scones will be a bit more dense. After they cool, I like to add a light drizzle made of 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 3 to 4 teaspoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
2 1/2 c. unbleached pastry flour or all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add in butter and mix with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. In another bowl, whisk together cream, eggs and vanilla. Reserve 2 tablespoons and set aside. Add the rest to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips just until distributed. You will have a moist, sticky dough. Transfer dough to a heavily-floured work surface and gently pat out to an 8-inch circle. Brush top of dough with reserved cream mixture and evenly sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut the dough into 12 wedges with a pizza cutter and space evenly on the prepared pan. Or use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out 16 scones, gathering the scraps to reshape the dough as needed. Bake scones for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm. After cooled, store in an airtight container.
Cranberry Orange Scones
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
4 c. plus 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy. Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles. Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.
Sour Cream and Blueberry Muffins
Source: Mr. Food Test Kitchen
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar and 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in blueberries with a spoon. Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over muffins. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Cool 20 minutes, then serve while warm.