Archive for the 'bread' Category

Empress Scones

Empress Collage Empress Scones

The Fairmont Empress on the inner harbour in downtown Victoria is always stunningly beautiful – but it’s even more so in the fall, when the ivy-covered walls begin to change colour.

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The Empress hosted the launch of In the Dog Kitchen yesterday with a tea paw-tea for dogs and their owners; it was a blast, albeit a rainy one. We had dog treats (Elvis’ bacon & peanut butter cakes! Turkey dinner doggie biscotti! Grrrranola bars!) made by the chef, and a photo booth with a wee replica of the Empress and little dog-sized fascinators, pearls, mink stoles, bow ties and vests for them to dress up with. So much fun. (My new iPhone won’t let me send photos from my phone to my computer to post here, but you can see all the evidence and hilarity on my twitter feed.)

The Empress Lawn Empress Scones

I love the big Fraggle Rock-esque trees on the front lawn.

Empress Collage Empress Scones

And what else do you do at the Empress in the afternoon but have high tea?

Empress tea 4 Empress Scones

Tea with milk, egg salad on tiny croissants, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Empress tea 1 Empress Scones

If you can’t find your own clotted cream (it’s difficult to find, and expensive for those tiny jars) you can make your own – but I prefer defaulting to crème fraîche, which is far easier to make.

jam cream Empress Scones

You’ll need a starter – buttermilk or good quality plain yogurt. Stir a heaping tablespoonful of it into 2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream, stir well, pour into a glass jar, cover with a lid and let it sit in a warm spot on the countertop overnight. That’s it. After 12-24 hours, it will have thickened into this wonderful, slightly tangy crème fraîche which you can serve right away or refrigerate until you need it.

Empress tea 2 Empress Scones

And if you can’t make it to the Empress, here’s the recipe for their famous scones.

Fairmont Empress High Tea Scones

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup raisins
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, rub together (they say “crumb”) the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, raisins and cream, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Roll out to one-half inch thickness and cut to desired size, brush with an egg wash (an egg beaten with a little water – this is optional – and you could always brush the tops with cream instead) and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Makes lots.

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October 16 2014 | bread and breakfast | 10 Comments »

Maple Scones

Maple Scones 1 Maple Scones

Every once in awhile, I decide I’m only going to do things that are awesome. And I forget that even with superhuman optimism, a lot of things aren’t awesome, and you can’t forgo invoicing and homework and laundry in favour of making things or playing with new projects on the internet.

But I have stuck to my new rule of only eating baked goods that are awesome – life is too short for bad bread. Right? And although I do enjoy a good muffin/scone/cookie/cinnamon bun any time of year, there’s something about cooling weather and crunchy leaves that demands something freshly baked alongside your coffee or tea.

(Related: no kitchen yet. It’s moving at glacial speed. But I have a sink! Update soon.)

Maple Scones 3 Maple Scones

Eons ago, I got to the point where I could mix up a batch of scones from memory, knowing just how much flour/sugar/baking powder/butter/cream would yield a perfect carb vehicle for anything from berries to chocolate chunks. A scone truly is the ultimate blank canvas; if you have the basics on hand, you can wing the rest. They take tasty care of squishy fruit and cheese ends, and scraps of things that might not otherwise add up to much. And even if a rummage through the fridge results in no more than a bottle of gin and maple syrup, you can make maple scones. (Or gin scones?)

Maple Scones 2 Maple Scones

Even though maple syrup runs in the spring, it feels like fall to me. I wish I had seen Joy’s apple pie biscuits before I made these – next time I’ll envelop sugared, spiced apples in maple dough and splatter maple drizzle over them, Jackson Pollock-style. I may go do that now.

Maple Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup half & half
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Drizzle:
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. half & half

Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend it in with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until well combined, with lumps of butter the size of a pea remaining.

Add the half & half and maple syrup and stir just until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a parchment-lined sheet and pat into a circle an inch thick. Cut into 6-8 wedges and pull them apart on the sheet. If you like, brush them with a little extra milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Meanwhile, whisk together the icing sugar, maple syrup and cream, and drizzle it over the warm scones with a fork. Makes 6-8 scones.

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button print gry20 Maple Scones

September 27 2014 | bread and breakfast | 13 Comments »

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