The end of last week marked the end of my 14th week of AHECs (also known as rural health rotations). We are required to do 8 weeks in a rural health setting as part of our medical school curriculum, but I have had such good experiences in these small towns that I chose to do another 6! This last one was definitely no exception. I got to work one-on-one with probably the second nicest radiologist I’ve ever met (father-in-law will always be first!), who taught me something new everyday, and really helped me to feel prepared for residency by letting me go through films on my own when we had free time. The staff was all so welcoming and made me feel like part of the team, and the patients are just so sweet and so in need of good healthcare in these rural areas.
I had seen this recipe for cinnamon scones almost a year ago and hunted down some cinnamon chips shortly after; but then never actually made these. Then randomly, I saw 2 of my favorite bloggers post scone recipes within days of each other, and I took it as a sign. Scones were clearly the answer of what to bring for my last day of my last rural health rotation! I ended up going with the original recipe I found, because I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand, and I liked that I didn’t have to buy a lot of heavy whipping cream or buttermilk. You can certainly use the method I used in the lemon blueberry scones, and freeze these unbaked, and then bake from a frozen state whenever a morning treat is calling. I am confident they would turn out wonderfully, as cold butter is one of the key ingredients to good scones. I’m certainly glad I had some wonderful staff members to share these with because free time + baked goods is not a good combination around here :-).
Cinnamon Chip Scones
– Makes 16-24 scones
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 whole Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Cinnamon Chips
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Heavy Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Unless you chose to freeze and bake later*)
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, granulated and brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or 2 knifes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.
3) Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour/butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.
4) Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Divide the dough into 2-3 equal portions. Gently press together the sides as you roll the top of each. Form either into either 2 large circles (to make 16 scones) or 3 medium circles (to make 24 smaller scones).
5) Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.
6) Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Serve with coffee.
*If freezing, flash freeze for 20 minutes, then wrap individually and store in freezer. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
So I finally downloaded my camera card, and realized I have way too many things I haven’t shared yet! But I decided to start with birthday cake, well because who doesn’t love birthday cake?! It has become somewhat of a tradition around here that I make my own birthday cake and then have friends over to share in eating it. Now there are those people who think that you shouldn’t have to bake on your birthday – but I would assume those are people who don’t like baking as much as I do. Really there is no other opportunity to make exactly the kind of birthday cake you’d like from start to finish, and I like to take advantage of that. Now this year I went overboard (and for me to say that is really saying something!). I decided to make a completely separate recipe of overly complicated cupcakes in addition to this three layer cake, and truthfully by the end of the day, I was starting to wonder if I’d get it all done before my birthday was over. Thankfully, John helped out a lot, but for my future reference and yours: this cake is plently on it’s own – both in terms of amount of cake and work.
First you start with a rich, moist dark chocolate cake. To really get the dark chocolate effect you should invest in some dutch processed (or dark) cocoa powder. I made the layers a day ahead, but I would guess you could even make them several days in advance and store in the fridge because they are so moist. Then you create a salted caramel, which will flavor the swiss meringue buttercream filling. Personally, I’m still kind of on the fence about swiss meringue buttercream, but I thought it worked well in this recipe because it’s not overly sweet like traditional buttercream. It also happens to be very stable, and so is able to adequately support the layers of this cake. Finally, you top it all with a dark chocolate ganache frosting and some decorative fleur-de-sel.
Although it would be really hard to top the malted chocolate and marshmallow cake of last year, this cake came close. Since I’m partial to six layer cakes, I think if I made this again that I would cut each layer in half, and then fill the additional layers with a small amount of plain salted caramel. (Simply double the recipe for caramel below.) Compared to the cupcakes I made, the caramel flavor was fairly subtle in this cake, and I think that would help to make it stronger. And if you want to save yourself some time, a traditional carmael buttercream like the one used here, would also work for the layers. This cake was quite rich, and so I decided to freeze some to take home for a second birthday celebration, and I can also say that it freezes wonderfully! Since my brother and I were born on the same day (5 years apart) we always try to get together for a fun birthday celebration – we kept it fun this year with an inflatable cake, and of course an entire table filled with desserts :-)!
Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cake
– Makes a 3 layer cake with 8-inch rounds (Serves ~16)
For the cake:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. brewed coffee
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
For the frosting:
12 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup very hot water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
Fleur de sel, for finishing
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour the edges of 3 8-inch baking pans, shaking out the excess. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed to blend. Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator prior to assembly for 1-2 days.
To make the caramel buttercream filling, place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color (test a drop on a white plate or bowl if necessary), watching it carefully to avoid burning. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt. Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 150-160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer – don’t worry, it will come together!) Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the frosting, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted and cooled chocolate until well incorporated. Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.
To assemble the cake, level the cake layers to get a more stable and cylindrical cake. Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Top with half of the caramel buttercream and smooth in a thick, even layer. Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that. Place the final cake layer on top. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Between pinterest, google reader, and an ever growing cookbook collection, I read a lot of recipes. Usually I file them away so that I can peruse my favorites when trying to plan a menu. But every once in a while a recipe is so memorable that it pops into your head a whole year later, while at the grocery store frantically trying to finalize the memorial day barbeque. This recipe would fall into that category.
Normally I wouldn’t think of apple pie as a traditional Fourth of July dessert, but a star spangled apple pie – well that’s entirely patriotic. It’s amazing what a few star cut outs can do for the “festive” level of a dessert. Served with ice cream, a possibly a slice of cheddar cheese, it’s perfect for summertime. And after all the saying does go, “As American as apple pie”.
The other thing I really liked about this recipe was how simple it was – most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. But since the crust is really the “star” in this pie, I think a homemade one is almost imperative. I had a little bit of trouble with overbrowning, so next time I make this I plan to tent some foil over the top to help even cooking. As you may know, I’m somewhat partial to sugar, but I truly did think that the sugar crystals elevated the crust from good to great, and would probably add even more when I make this for the next patriotic holiday.
Star Spangled Apple Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
- Pie Crust
- 6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
- Coarse sugar/Sugar sprinkles
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round. (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.) Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes in order to help the crust hold it’s shape while baking.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice. Toss well to combine. When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly. Place thin slices of cold butter over the apples. Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Cut out numerous star shapes and use these to cover the top of the pie, using as much of the dough as possible. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully and tent with foil for the 2nd half of baking if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
I can hardly believe it but Friday marks the end of my third year of medical school! I can remember at the beginning of this year wondering how I was ever going to make it- “working” at the hospital everyday on top of studying for standardized exams every five weeks, and trying to live a somewhat normal life on top of it. Then before I even had time to get really stressed out about it – it’s over! Not complaining one bit :-). I am finishing up the year with pediatrics, which quite to my surprise turned out to be one of my favorite rotations of the year. I have never been one of those people who thinks, “Awwwwwwwwww, little kids are sooooooooo cute.” In fact, I kind of grouped those people into the “lovers of unicorn and all things rainbow” that I just didn’t fit in with. However, in retrospect I realize that I had never really spent enough time with the little ones in order to make such a judgement. Little kids are pretty amazing little people, and they definitely do say the darndest things. And also, children’s hospitals = 1000x cooler than adult hospitals.
So in order to commemorate the end of another very good rotation, I decided to make coffee cake for the office to enjoy. I wanted something summery yet decadent and something that would work equally well for both breakfast and dessert. I think this cake hit the nail on the head. The lemon in the batter gives it a fresh appeal, and the streusel topping makes it a crumbly delight. I really thought this cake was over the top good – and based on the number of people at the office that asked for the recipe, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. The only thing I might change for the future is to make individual serving sizes. I think it would work well in a muffin tin – just make sure you equally distribute the amazing streusel, otherwise you might cause some fights (at least when there are little kiddos involved).
Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
For the Streusel:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Cake:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the Streusel: Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter, then flour and mix well.
For the Cake: In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until light. Reduce speed to low to add the eggs, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to evenly mix in berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a knife to level the top. With your fingers, crumble all the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Barely Adapated from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)