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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Heavy Cream Two-fer: Chocolate Chip Scones and Cream Cake

One thing that's nice about living in upstate NY is that milk and cream are a lot cheaper than in CA. A gallon of milk is around $2. A quart container of heavy cream is $3.50-$4.00. I don't buy it often, but decided to get some for baking.

Biscuits and scones can be made with a mix of cream and butter, rather than all butter. This seems to be common in older recipes. I've never tried this before but now that I can get cream cheaply I decided to try it. I made some scones using a recipe from my favorite cookbook.

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp cold butter
1/2 c chocolate chips (or currants, raisins, crystallized ginger, or blueberries)

1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425F
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add butter and cut into small pieces (the size of a pea or smaller). Add chocolate chips (or other chunky ingredients) and then add egg and cream. Mix until barely blended, and then transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it briefly until it just starts to for, a rough ball. Shape it into a ball. At this point you can roll it out and cut it, but it is easier to just put it in a greased round pie or cake pan, flatten it out, and then cut it into 8 wedges. Transfer wedges to a cookie and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
The scones came out well. They were tender, flaky, and had a delicate flavor. Were they better than scones made with butter? Not really, but they were just as good. I felt like they stayed fresh a bit longer, but that might've also been due to the egg.
I liked the recipe better because I found the slightly wetter dough to be easier to work with. As some of you know, I'm not all that good at making biscuits, pie crusts, etc, because I did not grow up in the South did not grow up eating them because my mom also lacks the biscuit gene. Any tricks to make the process easier are fine by me.

The second recipe I tried was a simple cake. Unlike the scone recipe, this one uses no butter at all. Eggs are beaten, sugar and vanilla are added, and then the dry ingredients and cream are added in portions, alternating between dry and wet. I followed the recipe, except that I added extra vanilla and about a teaspoon of almond extract. I also ran out of flour, so I was a little bit short on that.
The cake puffed up nicely and turned golden, but then deflated when I took it out of the oven. I suspect that the right amount of flour would help. Anyway, OM NOM NOM! I didn't share the first cake with the grad students. It's more like a pound cake than a typical layer cake, and is kind of dense, but it's nice and moist and has a very pure, clean flavor. It was even better the next day. It would be absolutely divine with strawberries and whipped cream.
I made the cake again. This time I doubled the recipe, used the proper amount of flour, and sprinkled slivered almonds on top. It did not deflate this time, and was a lot lighter, more like a traditional cake, but was slightly drier. I may lower the amount slightly the next time I make it. The almonds tasted really good on top. This time I shared it with the students.
This experiment reminded me that in baked goods, butter does impart a flavor, and at times this may detract or distract from the flavor of the item. In addition, extra eggs are often added to provide moisture and emulsifiers, and they too impart a flavor. It reminded me of when I was a little kid - I didn't like anything that was too eggy and buttery (I hated pound cake, believe it or not.) I will definitely try more cream-based baking in the future.

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