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Perfect Vanilla Scones

August 18, 2014

Vanilla Scone | Espresso and Cream
My sister-in-law, Ali, is one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. She married into the Hofmeyer family two years ago when she married Joe’s brother, Jason, and I think I can speak for the whole family when I say that Jason found a fantastic wife in Ali.

Some of you may also remember that when we were pregnant with baby #2 Ali and I were supposed to be due only 6 days apart from one another. We spent a lot of time texting back and forth that first trimester and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that our miscarriage was devastating and difficult knowing how to navigate the waters while she was still pregnant and I no longer was. To Ali’s credit, she was so gracious and compassionate in those months following, always careful of what she posted on social media while our wounds were still fresh and sharing just enough with us but not too much so that it would hurt even more.

In the months following our miscarriage I desperately wanted to figure out how to be happy for both of my sister-in-laws and their pregnancies while also mourning and grieving our own loss. Joe and I have clung to the verse, “Laugh with those who laugh, mourn with those who mourn,” and I wanted nothing more than to be able to do just that with our family. I found that doing things in spite of my pain was the most healing; I think the phrase I actually used was, “Every time I can be happy for someone despite my sadness, it’s like I’m saying a big ‘Screw you!’ to the devil, who wants to steal my ability to be joyful for others and make me bitter”.

Part of that process included sending the maternity clothes I had purchased to Ali and planning to throw her a baby shower in Minnesota later in the summer. Of course, at the time I would have never imagined we would be pregnant again by the time the shower rolled around, but there was something remarkably sweet about throwing a shower this weekend, celebrating Ali and Jason’s baby girl, remembering our own lost little one and feeling so thankful and joyful for the life that God has blessed us with in His own timing.

The spread at the shower included scones with an assortment of toppers such as jam and butter. Of all the breakfast pastries I suggested making, Ali’s vote went to scones. Her only request? They needed to be dense and slightly crumbly and crisp around the edges, not fluffy and cakey like some bakery-style scones in the states.

I tested a lot of recipes in the weeks leading up to the shower and realized that there are a lot of people who have no idea how to make a proper scone. Finally, when I was totally frustrated with scone recipe testing I consulted Desserts by the Yard, one of my favorite baking books. Sherry Yard never fails to come through for me, and this time her scone recipe totally knocked it out of the park. If you’re looking for a truly lovely scone, I would highly recommend this recipe. They soften a bit the next day, so make them the day of for best results!

Vanilla Scones 1 | Espresso and Cream

Perfect Vanilla Scones
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional sugar for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir until well-combined. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use your hands to break the butter up into small pieces. Then, once the butter has been broken up into small pieces, use your fingers to flatter the pieces of butter into thin discs.
  3. In a small bow, stir together the heavy cream, milk, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Use your hand to knead the dough gently 2 to 3 times or just until dough comes together.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured countertop and shape into a rectangle 1-inch thick. Cut into 12 small squares (about 1½ by 1½ inches or so) and place on baking sheet. Dust with additional sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until scones are rich golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.



3 Ingredient Flaky Biscuits

July 21, 2014

3 Ingredient Biscuits | Espresso and Cream

I should probably postpone writing this post until I have a few more words to say. I’ve been sitting in front of this screen, trying to find the words. But between the nausea, exhaustion and cravings for carbs, carbs and more carbs, I’m finding myself at a bit of a loss for words.

We had a lovely weekend. My mom made a surprise visit on Saturday and we took Pippa and Nutmeg to a Cavalier play date (yes, you read that right). We got a small glimpse into what parenthood might look like when Pippa was the only cavalier who jumped into the kiddie pool, started drinking the water and then proceeded to pee in the pool with everyone watching! It with simultaneously hilarious and embarrassing all at once.

Since, as I mentioned, carbs have been high on the list of foods I love, I did a little baking this weekend. Last week at work we had the pleasure of having Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams come to the kitchens to talk with us about the creative process and making ice cream. She also did a demo with a few of the recipes from her newest cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.

One of the desserts Jeni made was a fruit cobbler with the most amazing biscuit topper. It used self-rising flour and heavy cream. I decided to take the same concept and make biscuits, using whole milk instead of heavy cream and shaping them more into regular biscuits rather than drop dumplings. The results were fantastic and I was thrilled with how easy the recipe ended up being. Great for weeknight cooking!

3 Ingredient Flaky Biscuits | Espresso and Cream

3 Ingredient Flaky Biscuits
Recipe type: Bread, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5 to 6
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and butter. Pulse 5 to 8 times until the butter is broken up into small pieces. Add the milk to the flour mixture and process until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Press into an 8 by 4 inch rectangle about ½ inch thick. Fold rectangle in half. Use a 3½ to 4-inch round biscuit cutter to cut five to six biscuits from dough, rolling and re-rolling dough as necessary to use up remaining dough.
  4. If desired, brush biscuits with egg.
  5. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm with butter, jam or honey.


Banana Bread Ultimate

May 18, 2010
I feel a little bad for banana bread sometimes. Sure, it’s delicious beyond measure and versatile, going easily from morning to night. But very rarely does anyone set out to make banana bread. Instead, banana bread has been reduced to an afterthought. Have old bananas on hand that are too old for the lunchbox or morning cereal? Make banana bread.
This recipe might change the way you approach banana bread. You might even find yourself going to the store, in search of bananas on the verge of going to mush, for the sole purpose of making banana bread, because this recipe is pure yumm. Trust me, I did the research this weekend and the feedback was all kinds of positive. 
But this banana bread also has a dirty little secret. It’s made with 100% whole wheat flour. When is she going to shut up about whole wheat flour? You’re probably thinking, but I just can’t seem to find it in me to shut my mouth, because when a recipe finds that happy place where it is soft, moist, delicious, and 100% whole wheat, you know you’ve got something good on your hands and your hips.

Banana Bread Ultimate
Adapted from The Food Network’s Banana Bread Recipe
(Printable Recipe) 
*1 cup sugar
*1 stick unsalted butter, softened
*2 large eggs
*3 ripe bananas, mashed
*2 Tablespoons milk
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*2 cups whole wheat flour
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1 teaspoon salt
*3/4 cup chopped pecans 

*Preheat the oven to 325*F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the loaf pan with a slice of parchment paper to avoid sticking.
*Beat the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
*In a small bowl, mix together the bananas, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
*Add the banana mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.
*Beat in the chopped pecans by hand.
*Pour batter into pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

Happy Baking!


Whole Wheat Pear and Plum Crostada

September 6, 2009

More often than not, when fall finally rolls around I am more than ready. The relief of crisp, cool air is much needed after three months of heat and humidity. But not this year. An unusually mild, and dare I say cool, summer has left me in a bit of a difficult spot. I am a devoted lover of all things fall, yet without a blistering hot summer, I find myself stuck between clinging to summer and welcoming in my favorite season.

Is it really time to embrace harvest pies and cobblers, or would it be better to just continue eating ice cream and sorbet for a few more weeks? This weekend, I think I found a balance. Not quite a pie, this simple, free-form crostada is where carefree summer and hearty, warming autumn converge.

There’s something beautiful about making a crostada. No need for fancy fluting, pie plates, or even a recipe. A simple sprinkling of sugar, spice, and whatever fruit suits you is all it takes. For my version, I wanted to make it extra-healthful. The crust is made with 100% whole wheat flour and the filling uses just a touch of raw sugar. Plums from my aunt’s tree and crisp pears were my fruits of choice, but apples, figs, and dates would all be delicious.

2 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 tsp. salt

In a food processor, pulse the above ingredients together just until soft ball forms. Remove from processor; knead 2-3 times and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

3 medium crisp pears, cored and thinly sliced
6 small plums, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raw sugar OR 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, mix the above ingredients together until well combined. With a rolling pin on lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a 12-inch circle. Spoon filling into center of pastry, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Fold the edges of the pastry around the filling, and press together any overlapping edges. Don’t stress! It does NOT have to look perfect.

Bake at 350 until crust is lightly golden and filling is slightly bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove and slide onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper. Cool completely.
I hope you enjoy this dessert, as much for the simplicity as for the taste. To me, it’s what baking should be. Un-fussy and beautifully imperfect. And if you make a mistake, you have every right to claim it was intentional.

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