Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry Scones from Delfino Vineyards

 Delfino Vineyards in all its autumn glory.

We had a Think Local Umpqua advisory board retreat in the guest cottage at Delfino Vineyards.  It was a lovely setting and perfect for our purposes, with a good-sized dining room table to meet around.  I brought sliced apples, cheese cubes, and cookies for everyone to munch on, but the real treat was Terri Delfino's signature Cranberry Scones, still warm from the oven.  I made several kinds of scones when I baked for the farmers market;  lemon-ginger, cheddar & chive, maple-oatmeal, but I never used cranberries.  We're all in luck!  Terri generously shared the recipe and gave me permission to post it.  

These scones are perfect anytime, but would be especially nice if you have company coming for the holidays.  See my do-ahead tip after the recipe.  Oh, and don't forget about McKenzie Cranberries as a source for Oregon-grown and dried cranberries.  Even with shipping, they work out to less per pound than than those you can find at the grocery store and who knows where they came from.

Delfino Vineyards Bed & Breakfast
Guest Cottage

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
1 cup craisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 teaspoons grated orange rind (from one orange)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut butter into mixture until it becomes a coarse crumb texture. Stir in craisins or dried cranberries, nuts and orange rind. Make a whole in the middle and pour in buttermilk. Mix with a fork until moistened - don’t overmix but include loose flour. Flour hands and shape sticky dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured board. Pat into a circle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Place on a buttered baking sheet approx. 1 inch apart. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned.
Thank you, Terri!

Jennifer's do-ahead tip:  Scone dough (and biscuits) can be cut to desired shapes and frozen on a waxed paper-lined sheet pan until firm, then transferred to a freezer bag.  When ready to bake, place frozen scones on cookie sheet in preheated oven and give them an additional 3 to 5 minutes baking time.  This allows you to bake just a few at a time, as scones always taste best when still warm. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another cake to make you laugh

Here's one to add to my collection of Cakes to Make You Laugh Out Loud.  This year, my son requested a cake in the shape of a present, with ice cream inside!  I naively thought it would be "a piece of cake".  I mean, it's a cube--how hard can that be?  Well, you can tell from the photos that it was quite a challenge and the result is definitely laughable.  

This was my first attempt at making and using fondant icing. Overlooking the fact that the taste is pretty revolting compared to homemade buttercream frosting, fondant icing is very tricky to roll out and pick up.  It does drape beautifully over the cake, but shows every lump and bump and imperfection (kinda like a clingy skirt!) even though I used a layer of buttercream frosting underneath to hold the cake pieces together.  Oh, and a pasta machine DOES NOT work when trying to make fondant ribbon!

It's a good thing we are not perfectionists about this. Kevin keeps saying it's the best cake I ever made!  And that's what counts.

To redeem myself and prove that I do have  a bit of baking skill, I made some excellent focaccia for the panini he requested for his birthday dinner.