Blueberry Crumble

I do my best to avoid turning the oven on from June to September, so baking is an infrequent occurrence during the summer. When I do prepare desserts, they tend to be fruit-based and rustic.  Crumbles are my go-to sweet, mainly because it pairs so well with our favorite summer treat: ice cream. This last weekend, I brought the remains of a blueberry crumble to the Cape to share with friends, alongside vanilla ice cream from Four Seas, a local shop near Craigville Beach. This crumble is more cookie than fruit-filling, with just a bit of jammy innards, which make for a great sauce for whatever you scoop on top. 

Blueberry Crumble

8-10 servings

For the blueberry-filling
1 quart blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch

For the crumble topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using 1 tablespoon of butter or cooking spray, grease a 9 inch glass pie plate.
3. Place the blueberries into a large bowl, toss with sugar, corn starch and lemon juice. Spread fruit across pie plate.
4. In another bowl, add the dry ingredients for the topping.  Using a fork, mix the topping ingredients while drizzling the butter in, until it begins to come together. Sprinkle the topping over the blueberries and pat it down until it has completely covers the pan.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has turned a slightly golden-brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream topped.

Fig and Black Pepper Scones with Clotted Cream + A Giveaway

I don't know if other people have such strong feelings about scones, but I'm very picky about mine. For years, I've been making them one way and have been happy with the results. The recipe isn't anything particularly complicated: flour, , butter, heavy cream, sugar (you know, the best things on Earth), some baking powder, and salt. The dough is always loaded with whatever I feel compelled to mix in (blueberries or chocolate chips never disappoint). The recipe works... providing a dense, but flakey pastry. I've made it countless times and thought, "Well, I got that one down. Can't imagine a better scone recipe than this."

And then I made Samantha Seneviratne's fig and black pepper scones from her gorgeous book, The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking. I came late to the party and, for some reason, just recently got around to baking from it. Having heard rave reviews, I had to try something... anything. When I saw these scones, I knew that I had to whip up a batch. They are marvelous scones. To be honest, the best I've ever had. And, with her permission, I'm sharing the recipe with all of you. Per Samantha's suggestion, I served them with a dollop of clotted cream.

In addition, I'm thrilled to announce that I'm giving away a copy of The New Sugar & Spice to one lucky person. Just leave a comment on this post (one entry per person). It's only open to U.S. residents (sorry to my Canadian and international readers). Giveaway closes at 12PM EST on Friday, May 6th. The winner will be contacted via e-mail. 

Mission Fig and Black Pepper Scone

The New Sugar & Spice by Samantha Seneviratne (very mildly adapted)

8 big scones

1/4 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (10 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 1/2 ounces dried Mission figs, stemmed and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal with some larger pea-size pieces. Add the figs and toss to combine.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

3. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork just until shaggy dough forms. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it, just 2 or 3 times, to get the mixture to come together. Try not to overwork the dough. Form the dough into a 6-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal triangles. Spread the triangles out evenly on the prepared sheet. Freeze for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

4. Brush the tops of the frozen scones with cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the scones until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Completely frozen scones may take a few extra minutes. These are best eaten warm.

Serve with clotted cream (see recipe below)

Credit: Reprinted with permission from The New Sugar and Spice, by Samantha Seneviratne, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Quick Clotted Cream

2 cups

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, sifted

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.

2. Hand whisk the sour cream, vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar into the whipped cream until completely blended.

Chocolate Chip and Orange Mandel Bread

You may have noticed that things are looking a little different around here. I'm in the process of transferring all of my posts to this new site. It's quite an endeavor, but I think, in the end, it'll be worth it. Over the next month, I'll be continuing to add new features, like category lists. In the meantime, there's a search bar that will lead you to recipes. Just type "Drinks" and you'll get a list of all the beverages on the site.

I've been holding on to this mandel bread recipe for a while now. Last November, I was visiting my parents and helping while my grandfather had a minor procedure. My mom and I blocked off a day to cook meals for my grandparents to have throughout the week. While I worked on soups, salads, and entrees, my mom put together some desserts. I'd never thought too much about mandel bread, feeling that it was just a really dry cookie. But maybe my tastes have matured with age, because I couldn't stop eating them (especially all the broken bits that were left on the pan). 

When I returned home, I got to work on a recipe, loading the dough with mini chocolate chips and orange zest. For the rest of the week, this was my breakfast and dessert, paired with coffee in the morning and tea before bed. And, in between, I may have snuck one or two more. Self-control is not my strong suit. 

Chocolate Chip and Orange Mandel Bread

Approx 24 pieces

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Zest of 1 orange

For cinnamon-sugar topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
2. Add the butter and 1 cup of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until it's blended. Mix in the vanilla.
3. Put the stand mixer on its lowest setting and carefully add the flour mixture. Mix until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. The dough should be sticky. 
4. Add chocolate chips and orange zest and mix to incorporate with dough. 
5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or you can do 30 minutes in the freezer).
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
7. Divide the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Mold the dough into two, 3 inch wide loaves.
8. Bake for 25 minutes. 
9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 250 degrees. 
10. Transfer the baked loaves onto a cutting board and slice each loaf at a diagonal into 3/4 inch thick slices. 
11. Return the slices to the baking sheet and sprinkle half the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the cut-side of the mandel bread. Flip the slices over and sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar on top. 
12. Place the baking sheet back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. 
13. Remove from oven. Let cool before consuming.