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Filtering by Category: recipe

Candied Violets

Ben Ashby

Candied violets are perfect for spring. They are perfect for cake toppers, fruit salads, or beautiful garnish when creating a platescape. They also couldn't be more simple to create and to master.

Simply take clean, organic, violet blooms. Place on a flat surface. Make sure they are dry. In a bowl mix together one egg white and two tablespoons of fine white sugar. With a small brush. I use a paint brush. Paint the egg white and sugar mixture very carefully on each bloom. Allow to air dry for several hours. Then you're ready to decorate cakes, plates, and more with these beautiful sweet petite moments. 

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie

Ben Ashby

This pie is perfect for any season, but it is especially perfect for spring...during the time you want pie, but before fresh fruit comes into season. This old fashioned chocolate pie is super simple to make and will always be a hit.

We find it especially delightful to serve at a family function, a revival meetin' or an after funeral fellowship supper. Its the perfect combination of sweet chocolate goodness and festive wholesome bless your heart hospitality. 

 

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie

 

Danish Pie Crust (yields two crusts)

  • 2 1/2 C Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 1/2 C Milk
  • 1 Egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix well. Roll flat, and work into pie pan. Prick bottom, then bake until golden brown. Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

 

Chocolate Filling

  • 1 C Sugar
  • 3 T Baking Cocoa
  • 4 T Cornstarch
  • 2 T Margarine
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 3/4 C Milk
  • 1/4 C Water
  • 1 t Vanilla

 

Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, egg yolks, cream, and water in a medium saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium to medium high heat. Remove from heat when thickened and stir in margarine and vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust and top with meringue. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned.

 

Photographed with a Canon 5D IV

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The Art to Scone Making

Ben Ashby

THE ART OF SCONE MAKING


By: Debbie Anderson || The Scone Lady

Photography: Kimberly Taylor

 

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Walk into a tearoom in the UK and order a scone, and you will be given three options —plain, sultana (with golden raisins), or cheese.  Google “scones” here in the US, and you will find that the flavor options are limitless.  There are recipes for everything from the traditional plain (or cream) scone to a wide and creative variety including blueberry, cranberry, pumpkin, gingerbread and countless other flavors and combinations.  We Americans have taken the traditional British teatime treat and added our own unique twists and creativity to that simple little quick bread.

When I first started baking scones, I began by working my way through a book of scone recipes.  Each recipe was specific to a particular flavor of scone and seemed to require significantly different ingredients than the previous recipe.  It actually became fairly annoying to have to go on a search through the pantry to find out if I had all the ingredients needed to bake a particular flavor of scone.  Many, many of those early scone-baking sessions resulted in the neighborhood birds and squirrels enjoying a scone feast—for countless recipes resulted in dry and tasteless scones.  

 

 

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As I became more adept at scone baking, I began to understand that the secret to flavor variety was not going to be found in a cookbook of 100 different scone recipes.  Rather, the key was to find a good base (plain) scone recipe (or scone mix) and then learn how to adapt that scone into a multitude of flavors.  If the plain scone wasn’t good—then no amount of additions and toppings were going to improve its flavor.  

And so the quest began. I finally found a scone recipe which met all of my criteria for the perfect scone, and over time I learned how to change it to create distinctly different flavors.  Sometimes that adaptation was born of necessity—I can’t tell you how often I stood in front of the pantry frustrated that I was out of sugar—or chocolate chips—but I had brown sugar on hand, or canned pumpkin—and suddenly a new flavor was born.  It does help, I learned, to have completely honest and captive guinea pigs—in my case, my then-teenage children and their friends, who were always in and out of the house and more than willing to sample a new scone flavor. 

I have learned a few things over the years—and made a lot of mistakes as well.  I was convinced that there was no mistake anyone could make that I haven’t already made—until one of my customers (a Bed and Breakfast owner) confessed that she set her oven on fire one morning while baking strawberry scones (and sent her husband down the street for an emergency bakery run!).  

 

 

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Creating a different flavor of scone is really pretty simple—as long as you follow a few basic principles of baking.

Keep the total volume of liquid the same as what is called for by the recipe or mix directions For example—suppose you want to make a pumpkin flavor scone, and plan to add some pumpkin puree to the scone recipe.  The puree behaves like a liquid—so you will need to cut back on the liquid called for in the recipe, and replace that liquid with pumpkin puree.  If the recipe calls for 1C liquid, and you want to add 1/2C pumpkin puree, then spoon the ½ C of puree into your measuring cup and then bring the total volume up to 1C with the liquid called for in your recipe (usually cream/buttermilk/milk).  Stir to blend completely, and use when directed in the recipe.

Do not change the total amount of dry ingredients called for by the recipe.  Let’s way that your recipe uses 2C flour, and you want to add oats to the dough.  To do that, you will need to cut back the flour by the same WEIGHT as the oats that you add.  Dry ingredients are most accurately measured by weight, not by volume.  (an easy rule of thumb here—3C of flour weighs 1 pound).

Different ingredients get added at different stages in the scone making process.  You have three basic stages of scone making—measuring the dry ingredients into the bowl—cutting in the butter, and then blending in the liquids to create your dough.  In general, dried spices get added to the flour mix, before cutting in the butter.  Nuts and dried fruits can be added after the butter is cut in, but before the liquid is added.  Fresh or frozen fruits are best folded into the dough gently after the dough is made, but before you cut the scones (see side bar for specifics).  I learned this one the hard way—I was making blueberry scones for the first time, and put the berries into the bowl after the butter was cut in—then tried stirring in the buttermilk.  Immediately the berries began to crush and spread blue juice and goo throughout the dough.  That batch of scones has been immortalized in our family history as the day mom created Smurf scones!

 

 

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Some of the easiest ways to change the scone flavor include:

Swapping brown sugar or a combination of white and brown sugar for the granulated sugar usually indicated in the recipe. 

Adding dried fruits or nuts to the dough.  Classic is always a winner.  If you want to kick the results up a notch, toast the nuts before adding them to the flour and butter mixture.  It not only intensifies the flavor but it helps maintain the texture and crunch during the baking process.  

Enhance the flavor with spices, extracts, or citrus zests.  Spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg are natural add-ins, depending upon the flavor you are trying to produce.  Citrus zests will also flavor the dough, as well as enhance the flavor of many different fruits you might be choosing to add (think blueberry lemon or cranberry orange).  Dry spices can be added before the butter is cut in; zest should be added after cutting in the butter, but before adding the liquid.  If you are adding extracts, stir the extract into the liquid ingredients before adding them to the bowl.

Add fresh or frozen fruits to the dough.  If you are using frozen fruit, do NOT thaw the fruit before adding it to the dough.   In general, soft fruits and berries are best added gently by hand once the dough is completely formed, but before you cut the scones.  Roasted apples are an exception and can be added to the butter/flour mixture, before the liquid is added.  

Fruit or vegetable purees can be substituted for much of the liquid ingredients.  Remember to keep the total volume of liquid equal to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe—otherwise you will end up with a very soupy dough.  Substituting purees for some of the liquid ingredients works particularly well in recipes that call for cold butter to be cut into the flour mixture, and then a liquid such as buttermilk, milk, or cream to be added. I would be cautious about this substitution when there is no butter in your ingredient list.  In this case, the recipe likely calls for heavy cream, and the cream is then the sole source of fat for the baked scone.

 

 

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During the holiday season, I like to take my plain scones and dress them up with holiday flavors.  My current favorites include Cranberry Gorgonzola , Apple Ginger, and of course Pumpkin Spice.

 

Pumpkin Spice Scones—Using your favorite plain base scone recipe (see below if you are still searching for the perfect scone recipe) or mix, make the following additions/substitutions:

  1. Add 1T pumpkin pie spice to the dry ingredients, and stir to distribute evenly
  2. Cut in butter as directed
  3. Substitute half to 2/3 of the total liquid called for in the recipe with pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling!).  Blend the puree into the milk/cream/buttermilk, and then follow the recipe as directed to create your dough.
  4. Pat out to a thickness of ¾-1”, cut into desired shape.  Bake immediately or freeze dough for baking later.

* The baking time might be extended by a few minutes, since the pumpkin puree adds to the density of the dough.

Cranberry Gorgonzola Scones —These scones smell absolutely wonderful in the oven, and are a perfect addition to a lunch or supper of soup and salad.  Again, start with your favorite base recipe or mix.  

  1. Once the butter has been cut in, add 4-5 oz (a small container from the grocery store) crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  
  2. Add milk/cream/buttermilk as directed and form your dough.  
  3. Pat out the dough on a floured surface and add a generous handful of fresh or frozen cranberries to the top of the dough.  
  4. Fold the dough over onto itself 2-3 times (again, do not overwork or knead) and re-pat the dough to the desired thickness (I recommend ¾-1” thick). 
  5. Cut into desired shapes and bake immediately or freeze dough to bake later.

 

 

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Apple Ginger Scones—these are a little trickier to create, but are well worth the effort. 

You will need: 

  1. 1C roasted apple chunks (peel, core and dice 2-3 baking apples.  Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 until fork tender—15-20 minutes).  Cool completely before using.)
  2. 1T Powdered Ginger
  3. 1/2C unsweetened applesauce
  4. Molasses (2T or so)
  5. 1/2t cinnamon
  6. 1/2t allspice
  7. Brown Sugar

(When I make these, I actually usually start with our (Victorian House Scones) Gingerbread Scone Mix.) 

If you are starting with a plain base recipe

  1. Substitute brown sugar for the white sugar.  
  2. Add 1 heaping T of powdered ginger, 1/2t cinnamon, and 1/2t allspice to the flour and other dry ingredients.  Stir to distribute spices evenly.
  3. Cut in the butter as directed by the recipe.  Add the cooled roasted apples to the mix and stir to distribute throughout the mixture.
  4. Blend together 2T molasses and 1/2C unsweetened applesauce, then bring up to 1C (or total volume) called for in the recipe.  Stir into the flour/apple/butter mixture to form the dough.  (if less total liquid is called for in the recipe, reduce the molasses and applesauce proportionately).

Turn out onto a floured board, pat to desired thickness, and cut into desired size and shape.  Bake immediately or freeze the dough to bake later.

 

 

 

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Scone Making Basics Sidebar

Use cold (or even frozen) butter when making scones.  A very easy way to cut in icy cold butter is to first grate it with a cheese grater.  Wrap it lightly and freeze for 15-20 minutes (while you assemble the rest of the ingredients).  When you are ready to use the butter, drop it into the bowl, and cut it in with a pastry cutter, or mixer or food processor.  It will go in very quickly, and leave perfect little nubbins of butter scattered throughout the mixture.

 

Handle the dough very minimally.  The less the dough is handled and kneaded, the lighter it will be.  I once saw a demonstration where the woman was incorporating the liquid into the butter/flour mixture with her hands—or rather, with just ONE hand.  When asked why, her comment was that this way she would have scones, not STONES.  Using both hands together would result in the dough being kneaded and overworked thus yielding tough and dry scones.

 

To add fresh or frozen fruit to the dough, pat the dough into a circle as if you were getting ready to cut your scones.  Put a generous handful of fruit such as blueberries on top of the dough.  Gently fold the dough over the fruit 2-3 times, and then gently re-form the circle.  This process will work the berries into the center of the dough.  Take care not to overwork or knead the dough.  Reform the circle and cut the scones into desired shape.  

 

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Links to some basic scone recipes or mixes

www.elmwoodinn.com/recipes/elmwood_scones.html  (offered with permission of Bruce and Shelly Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas)

www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/scones-recipe

(Each of the above recipes call for eggs.  Not all scone recipes need eggs—our mix uses no eggs, and buttermilk rather than heavy cream or half and half.)  Ultimately your favorite scone recipe or mix is going to be what you believe tastes the best!


Slow Cooker Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Ben Ashby

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If you're anything like me you have an irrational fear of burning chocolate. I found a solution for this by melting chocolate in a slow cooker. Basically you're creating a double boiler, but one that will melt your chocolate and allow you to work at your own pace. This winter I've been creating several treats with melted chocolate. Below is my way of melting chocolate in a slow cooker.

 

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

This technique works for any kind of treat you'd like to create using melted chocolate. 

Fill your slow cooker, I use a Kenmore 5 Quart Slow Cooker, with several inches of water. You will want it to go about 2/3's up the side of your bowl you'll use for melting. Turn your slow cooker to low or high, depending on how long you have to create your treats. 

Place your chocolate chips, chunks of bark melts, or whatever sort of chocolate you will be melting into a microwave safe bowl. Place the bowl into the water, making sure not to get any water inside  the bowl. Water in the bowl will cause the chocolate to be grainy. 

Allow your chocolate to slowly melt, uncovered. Stir on occasion to ensure even melting. 

Once the chocolate is fully melted dip your pretzels into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. If you'd like to sprinkle with sprinkles, do so while the chocolate is still hot. If you're in a hurry place in fridge or freezer to speed up the cooling and setting process. 

I found that one regular size bag of chocolate chips will cover around 40-50 pretzels. 

 

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Images created with Canon 5D Mark IV | Slow Cooker by Kenmore

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Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Ben Ashby

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I think I have had PSL overload after the past three years of everything being pumpkin spiced. This year I have been all about the apple and the apple cider. From apple cider cakes, to apple pies, to apple butter...I have been baking at least two or three dishes a week with apples in them. I recently partnered with Kenmore to try out their 5 Quart Slow Cooker. I developed a super easy Slow Cooker Apple Butter recipe for their newly redesigned blog

 

 

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So, after you head inside from a picture perfect trip to the orchard to load up your pantry with enough apples to survive the winter, head over to Kenmore’s website  and give my recipe a try. Don’t worry, it only takes six apples, that you don’t even have to peal....and store bought apples will do.

 

MAKE IT NOW

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Apple Cider Spiced Cake

Ben Ashby

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We're going to go ahead and declare this the official dessert of fall 2017. It couldn't be easier to make, and it couldn't be any more delicious. The addition of the apple cider gives it a fresh crisp taste that you'd never expect in a spice cake. Our icing continues the apple cider theme, and is truly a dessert all to its own. We aren't even going to pretend like this cake is healthy, but it is worth every bite.

 

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Apple Cider Spiced Cake

 

  • 1 Box Spice Cake Mix
  • Apple Cider
  • Butter (melted)
  • Eggs
  • Brown sugar

This cake couldn't be easier, you're basically just grabbing yourself a spiced cake mix from the local grocery, market, or store. Any brand will work. I use Betty Crocker because its the easiest to reach on the Walmart shelf. Once you've gathered your ingredients, pay for them, and taken them all home. 

Follow the instructions on the back of the box, but substitute your water for apple cider. If you can't find apple cider, you can use apple juice, but I really don't like the idea of using it. Substitute the oil for melted butter, and add however many eggs the box tells you too. 

I bake mine in a bundt pan simply because it is my favorite pan. You can absolutely use a loaf pan or a baking dish. The key to making it amazing is absolutely covering your pan in cooking spray. After its well lubricated add a handful of brown sugar. This will give your cake a delicious crunch. Add however much you'd like.

Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box. Use a tooth pick to see if the cake is done. If it comes out clean the cake is fully baked. If it is still wet, keep baking. Remove and cool. If baking in a bundt pan, remove from the pan a few minutes after taking out of the over.

 


 

Apple Cider Whipped Creme Icing

This is the very basic form of the recipe. We also have a more complex creamed cheese apple cider whipped creme. 

  • One cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch

Mix all ingredients with a mixer on high. Gradually add the powdered sugar to avoid a mess. Whip until stiff enough to spread. Drizzle on cake. Chill and eat left overs while watch fall episodes of Gilmore Girls. 

 

 

Goat Cheese, Watermelon, & Herbs

Ben Ashby

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This snack really is overly simple. So simple that I struggled with the idea of even writing the recipe, but it needed to be written. This recipe is a perfect summer or fall treat. The sweetness of the melon paired with the sharp tang of the goat's milk cheese is a real delight. We kept it simple with our recipe, but a splash of sea salt and balsamic really adds even more flavor to the dish.

 

  • Watermelon, cubed into bite size wedges
  • Block of goat's milk cheese
  • Herbs for garnish, we used min, basil, and rosemary
  • Ground black pepper

We allowed everyone to assemble their own, but you can easily prepare this ahead of time and create delightful little stacks.

 

 

 

Cast Iron Apple Pie

Ben Ashby

This has been our most popular recipe every year since we first published it in 2011. A traditional cast iron skillet apple pie with a few seasonal additions make it the perfect treat to serve all autumn long. 

It is my go to recipe for fall. Nothing is better than going to the local orchard and hand harvesting the apples yourself. I use a Martha Stewart enameled cast iron skillet. The pie comes out perfectly every single time. The pie is perfect served hot or cold. 

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RECIPE:

Ingredients 

1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon  

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons sorghum or maple syrup  

1 boxed pie crust  

5 pealed and sliced apples

 

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Add stick of butter and brown sugar to bottom of skillet. Place in oven until melted, do not let boil.  

Remove from the oven. Put bottom crust in skillet. Toss apples in sugar, spices, and syrup. Add mixture to skillet. Place remaining butter on top. Cover with crust. Dust top of crust with a dash of sugar and spices. 

Cut vent holes or decorative pattern in the top of the pie. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until apples are tender. 

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Easy Whipped Cream

Ben Ashby

 

Cool Whip is overrated and not that good....fresh whipped cream is so easy to make..and so much better. Our recipe keeps it super simple.

WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl pour the whipping cream and the vanilla. As you beat the mixture add the powdered sugar to help provide stiffness and a bit of extra flavor. Whip until it is as thick and creamy as you'd like. I prefer stiff peaks. Be sure to not over whip or you'll end up with butter.