Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I found this article by Bonnie Stern in the National Post called "Better Cooking Through Chemistry." She pushes the fact that every kitchen needs a copy of Harold McGee's Keys to Good Cooking: a Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes. I had never heard of the book so naturally I was quite curious! McGee is a leading writer on the science of food and cooking and is a columnist for The New York Times. 

Bonnie writes that during her lunch with the San Francisco-based writer, his hope behind the book was "cooks would use this book while they’re standing in the kitchen cooking, and close the book once they get the answers." The book is full of information on techniques, food safety and purchasing/storing food. It's great because he explains the science behind a cooking process - helping you avoid the "what went wrong disaster" during a recipe.

The three recipes she highlighted in her article looked great, but the one that really stood out was the scone recipe! The best part about this recipe - that it truly was so simple, and helped me cook with ease!

I have been craving some lovely baked goods, real rustic ones that you find in a quaint cafe. So scones seemed to fit the bill. The recipe was for scones with dried cranberries, but I much prefer fresh fruit - so I substituted them for fresh blueberries. I can't explain how simple it was! My friend Kate was over so we made the scones together and the batter was literally done before my oven had pre-heated to 450 degrees. So wild - I think the whole cooking time including prep time and oven times was 25 minutes, 30 max! So easy - can't wait to make these one morning for a special brekky.

DRIED CRANBERRY SCONES (or blueberry like me!)
For tender scones, McGee says be sure to use fresh baking powder and/or baking soda; if the recipe calls for baking soda, be sure it also calls for an acid, such as buttermilk. Blend dry ingredients thoroughly — at least a minute of whisking (sifting lightens and removes lumps, but does not mix). Then, combine wet and dry ingredients quickly and bake immediately.

- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1⁄3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp coarse sugar

- In a large bowl combine flour with baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir mixture with a whisk for about 1 minute to combine thoroughly. Cut in butter until it’s in tiny bits. Stir in cranberries.
- Mix egg with milk and add to flour mixture. Gather mixture together and gently knead just until mixture forms a ball.
- On a floured work surface, pat dough into a round that’s approximately 10-inches (26 cm) in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges.
- Transfer scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Makes 8 scones

photo credit: my own

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