Monday, August 20, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Thanks so much for all of the well wishes on the blog, Facebook and Twitter!  Max is 24 days old and I'm finally starting to feel human again.  I'm not going to lie, being a new parent is like being a zombie... especially at 2:00 am when the baby is crying and you don't know why.  My family and friends have constantly dropped off meals and my mom has done my shopping and come to stay with me every single weekday since Max has been home.  But (and this should not come as a surprise) I miss cooking my own food!

I spend hours watching Food Network while I nurse Max, change his diapers or while I'm holding him in my arms.  I've pinned so many new recipes and I can't wait until my baby sleeps more than an hour so I can cook them!  Right now I'm in a cycle of napping, nursing and eating, so I don't have much time to do menu planning and other fun stuff.

Today I'm sharing a recipe for cinnamon raisin scones.  I started making these about two weeks before I had the baby and during my short nesting stage I made a double batch and froze them.  These scones are as good as any I've had from a fancy bakery and everyone in my family loves them.  I know I've shared a few scone recipes in the past, but this is my new favorite method and recipe. The unbaked scones freeze beautifully and they are perfect for sleep-deprived new parents who stumble into the kitchen at 5:45 am looking for a hot beverage and a freshly-baked buttery pastry.

Here's how I do it...

I pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and salt in a food processor.  Don't have a food processor?  Use a pastry cutter or even two forks... it just takes a few minutes longer.  The key to flaky, buttery scones is keeping chunks of butter in your flour mixture.  You want everything mixed together, but you want the chunks of butter to be roughly the size of peas.

I pour the dry ingredients into a bowl, then I mix in cinnamon chips and raisins.

A word on cinnamon chips:  they seem nearly impossible to find in the state of Delaware if it's not Christmas.  I have no idea why these chips are so elusive, but last summer I bought four bags at King Arthur Flour in Vermont and I keep them in the freezer.  If you can't find cinnamon chips you can order them online.  I know it sounds like a pain, but the chips work better than ground cinnamon in this recipe... trust me.  And while we're on the topic of King Arthur Flour, I think their flour is worth the extra few bucks if you're a baker.  I also like White Lilly, but it's not sold in the north, so I can't buy it in Delaware.

Next, mix the eggs, milk (or half and half), and vanilla in a small bowl.  Gently combine this with the dry ingredients.  The mixture will seem very dry and crumbly.  Knead it a few times with your hands, then turn it out onto parchment paper and roll it into a rough rectangle like this:

Notice how you can see chunks of butter in the dough once it's rolled out?  That's a good thing.  That means your scones will be flaky and buttery.

I roll mine about a half inch thick.  Then, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes to one hour.  Cut the dough into 16 small triangles.

Brush with egg wash, bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting.  I can easily down four of these... luckily they are small, so I don't feel guilty.  These aren't just for breakfast, either.  I've been known to pop a batch in the oven after dinner.  Who can resist moist, buttery pastry with sweet cinnamon chips and plump raisins?

Don't forget, you can freeze the scones after cutting them into triangles.  When you remove them from the freezer, just brush them with egg wash and add five minutes to the baking time.  I like to wrap unbaked scones in foil and place the foil packets in freezer bags for a quick fix on another day.  Why dirty up the kitchen every single time you want scones?  And believe me, you'll be wanting these scones again and again.

Cinnamon Raisin Scones
inspired by The Pioneer Woman

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter (I use salted butter), cubed
1 egg
3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup mini cinnamon chips
1 additional egg for egg wash

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter.  Pulse until butter is pea-sized and mixture has a sandy texture.  If you don't have a food processor, place these ingredients in a bowl and combine using a pastry cutter or two forks.

Pour flour mixture into a large bowl.  Mix in raisins and cinnamon chips.

In a small bowl, whisk together one egg, cream and vanilla.  Stir wet mixture into flour mixture.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Knead gently with your hands.  Pour onto parchment paper (or an oven-safe silicone mat).  Roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut dough into 16 small triangles.  [At this point you can flash-freeze the scones and bake them at a later date.]  Place on a baking sheet leaving 1 inch between scones.  Whip one egg and brush egg on top of unbaked scones.  Bake scones for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Big News!

I had big plans last week.  I had two blog posts ready for My Life on a Plate and two ready for Potluck.

But, we make plans and God laughs.

I was really busy last week... someone decided to arrive a bit earlier than anticipated...

Meet Maxwell Thomas Powell.  He decided to make his entry into this world a few weeks earlier than we expected and with much fanfare. He's a little guy who weighs just a little more than a sack of sugar and we love him to pieces. He's the best. I can't get over how cute he is and both of our hearts are about to burst with love.

Yup, he's the best.  We're so blessed to have him... I'm still amazed.
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