Easy Scones and Crème Fraiche

For years I only every made muffins for a quick snacking or breakfast food, but a friend (an amazing baker too) enlightened me to the wonders of scones. Same one-bowl idea, quick in the oven, and a crumb that delights all palates, scones are amazing. I have tried many recipes since then depending on what ingredients I had on-hand (buttermilk recipes, no egg recipes, you name it), but this one is by far the most dependable.

Scones have a subtle different texture than biscuits since they’re less creamy/buttery. This simple scone recipe will prove that they are a dense, crumbly deliciousness. Sometimes we sugar dust the scones before baking, but the traditional treat just takes a little spreading of jam for sweetening. Dried currants as an add-on is so authentic, but dried currants are not easy to come by. Some of our favorite combinations have been lemon extract and dried blueberries, orange extract and dried cranberries, and vanilla extract and diced dried apricots.

The perfect topping to this tasty treat is the delicate addition of the crème fraiche. It takes the place of British clotted cream with a silkier texture. Crème fraiche literally makes itself on your counter, and the results couldn’t be dreamier! Pretty soon, you’ll be using crème fraiche in all sorts of recipes! I promise you’ll feel very accomplished in the kitchen and be forever grateful that you learned to make it.

Easy Scones*

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup room temperature butter

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup dried currants or raisins or any dried fruit (chocolate chips would be fun)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your favorite extract

Heat oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and use your hands (a fork, two butter knives, pastry blender) to break up the butter so that the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. We mostly use the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the eggs, heavy cream, extract, and dried fruit at once and stir until moistened. Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form it into a ball and with floured hands, gently press it into a round or square. You may need a rolling pin. For American sized scones, cut into 8 wedges or squares (cut outs are good too, but they bake faster). For traditional scones, cut into 16 wedges, round cut-outs, or squares. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Brush scones with milk or cream and dust with coarse sugar (optional). Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with crème fraiche and strawberry jam (lemon curd is amazing too). They freeze well.

Crème Fraiche**

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Combine the cream and the buttermilk and warm in the microwave or stove until lukewarm (not to exceed 90F or 32C). Pour the mixture onto a glass jar and cover lightly (so steam can escape). Let it stand at room temperature overnight (warm place – 70F) or all day (up to 24 hours) until it is has thickened. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for the flavor to develop and the crème to thicken even more. Before refrigerating, try stirring in vanilla beans (just a 1/4 teaspoon will do) for an over-the-top treat! If you’d like to try the crème sweetened, stir in powdered sugar to taste. Crème Fraiche is delicious in savory dishes too (no vanilla).

*Adapted from Home and Gardens New Baking Book

**Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson

with love. Damaris

Advertisements

Pear Cake with Rosemary Infused Maple Syrup

Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes.

This weekend we wrapped up boiling and bottling the last of this year’s syrup, and it’s making an appearance in many dishes. Traditionally we think of the maple flavor as a fall staple, but the syrup is freshest in the spring when it is harvested.

This delightful and fragrant cake will be just the sweet addition to your Easter brunch. The textures in this light cake will surprise you. The buttery creamy pears and the coarse crumb of the cornmeal will please every bite. Frosting is just too much for brunch, so this pear cake is glazed with rosemary infused maple syrup. If you don’t have time for the infusing step or you don’t like the flavor of rosemary, brushing the maple syrup over the cake is still so special. The beautiful sheen will moisten the cake even more than the ripe pears alone, and you’ll enjoy a perfectly-sweet morning treat.

I hope that maple syrup occasionally finds its way into other things in your recipes!

Pear Cake with Rosemary Infused Maple Syrup*

  • 1/2 cup oil

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with a little vinegar)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 ripe pears, cored and sliced

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 or 2 sprigs rosemary

  • freshly whipped cream or yogurt for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 350° F. Heat the rosemary and ¼ cup maple syrup in a small pot over very low heat (or in the microwave). We’re not really trying to evaporate any liquid, so look closely that it doesn’t come to a boil. Remove from heat after it becomes fragrant and cover. Let it sit for 30 minutes or overnight.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and oil and whisk to combine. Fold in the pears. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs. While the cake is still warm, brush the top and side with the rosemary maple syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or yogurt if desired.

*Inspired by this recipe in a magazine issue years ago. It soon became a family favorite!

with love. Damaris


My Spanish Indulgence

Growing up in Spain meant Nutella was a staple…although we called it ‘nocilla‘. All children can count on this glossy chocolate spread to be in the pantry for merienda (afternoon snack). Nutella made schooldays sweet! My heart swells with national pride to see my children love it as much as I do! lol

In a gaggle of women, you can spot me as the Spaniard right away . But really, my family is all from Spain as many ancestral generations as we can recall.

If you know me, you know that I don’t like to make cookies – I avoid it all expense. And before you feel sorry for my deprived children, I disclose that their tummies are full of delicious cookie bars.

Now you understand why this recipe is perfect! My childhood’s favorite chocolate spread in a bar! These come together very quickly and bake in no time. While hazelnuts can sometimes be hard to come by, you can usually find them in the by-the-pound section of your local grocer.

Photo Credit: Eva

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups Flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 1/2 cup softened butter

  • 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar

  • 1 Egg

  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

  • 3/4 Nutella (or as much as you need to cover the dough)

  • 1/4 cup chopped Hazelnuts (optional)

  • Salt (for sprinkling on top – optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8 inch square pan. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the Nutella and the hazelnuts. Gently press half of the dough onto the bottom of the pan. Spread the Nutella on top of the dough. Then sprinkle the remaining dough over the Nutella. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the crumbles of dough and gently press it all down. Sprinkle a pinch of salt, if you’d like to – yum. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the bottom crust looks golden brown.

Buen Provecho!

with love. Damaris