Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Buttermilk Scones and Soft Boiled Eggs

I'm going to be that person. The one who posts a recipe with "buttermilk" in the title, even though goodness knows most people don't go through enough buttermilk to make it worthwhile to stock in a home kitchen. Substituting in milk with lemon juice works, but it feels a bit like cheating, especially in something like pancakes where buttermilk is in the title.

What am I doing presenting you with a recipe that includes buttermilk, then? Well, I have a strong inclination to use up whatever unusual ingredient we happen to have in the house, and buttermilk is unusual for us to stock. My dad got some for these scones, and you can bet I'll be making pancakes at some point because the buttermilk is there, begging to be used up.

Since buttermilk is not the most important ingredient in these scones, even though it's in the title (for the sake of those people dying to use up the languishing carton in their refrigerator), and since I do not mean to impose upon you the same buttermilk-induced guilt I often find myself struggling with, feel free to use the milk/lemon juice trick or yogurt and milk.

In fact, that's what this recipe is about: substituting and making it your own. We had dried blueberries and cranberries and fresh tangerines, you might have currants and grapefruits or raisins and almonds or some other dreamy combination.

The good thing is that scones make a lovely backdrop for your creativity. They're behind you, 100%.

I mixed up the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, and separately mixed the wet ingredients the day before and stashed it all in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I zested a clementine and added the wet ingredients, formed and baked. It was a super easy, chill thing to make for guests at breakfast.

Look at this parallelism...bookended! But with a different focus.
And let's talk about that egg...maybe you've been admiring it. Maybe you've been thinking, "I make a better egg than that. That girl, she's a bad egg." Well hardy har har, how punny of you!

It's a soft boiled egg, and the culinary genius mad scientists at Cook's Illustrated have figured out how to boil eggs to perfection, every time, no matter how many you want to cook.

They're another easy thing to make if you're entertaining for breakfast. And so delicious.

Buttermilk Scones
Yield: 8 scones

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk plus some for brushing the scones before baking
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)--I used this substitution (and I love Joy's blog in general)
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1-2 cups add-ins (dried fruit, nuts, chocolate)
  • zest of citrus fruit or extra extract (almond? coffee? make it yours!)
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is combined well. 
  3. In another bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal, using a pastry cutter, food processor, fingers, cheese grater on frozen butter (I love this trick), whatever. 
  4. Stir in add-ins, flavorings and buttermilk mixture until the mixture just forms a sticky but manageable dough. Knead the dough gently for 30 seconds, pat into a 3/4-inch-thick round, and cut into 8 wedges. 
  5. On an ungreased (or silpat/parchment/foil-lined) baking sheet brush wedges with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until the scones are golden.
  6. Serve with whatever scone-condiments you please!
Adapted from Epicurious.

Super Easy Soft Boiled Eggs
Yield: as many as you want!

  • eggs
  • water
  1. Boil half an inch of water.
    Add in as many eggs, straight from the refrigerator, as you want to cook. 
  2. Put the lid back on and set a timer for 6 1/2 minutes, keeping the pot on high heat until it comes back to a boil (which should happen quickly). 
  3. Pull eggs out of the pan (tongs help), peel by cracking the fat end and peeling under cool water, slice in half and serve with salt and pepper.

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