patinagle16: (scone)
Scones are baked and cooling.  Packing up boxes for the tea.  Is it really easier this year, or am I just less stressed for some reason?
patinagle16: (Default)
Final batch of scones done and in the freezer.  Total:  144

Today I'm packing up stuff for the tea.  Teapots, serving gear, etc.  It just takes a lot of stuff to do this. 

And a lot of people.  If you're at Bubonicon on Sunday afternoon, be sure to step up to the tea and get a cuppa and some nibblies.  Sign up for the book drawing, and read the list of hosts & hostesses in the program.  They're the ones you should thank, as it wouldn't happen without them.

See you at Bubonicon!
patinagle16: (Default)
Two batches done today.  One to go.

I think I like the old fashioned, cut-in-the-butter method better than grating and freezing.  Just less fuss, and the quality seems about the same.

Halfway through batch 3 my pastry cutter died.  I was able to use it, but it's time for a new one.  Anyone have recommendations of a particularly wonderful brand?
patinagle16: (Default)
What happened to day 3?  Aargh!
patinagle16: (scone)
Cooking is always an adventure.

I made the scones the old way today - cutting butter into the dry stuff.  It was kind of soothing, actually.  I may like this better than the frozen butter.  

I even remembered to add the currants.  Put them in before adding the cream, which worked well.

BUT...

The dough was way too wet.  I checked the recipe and saw that it called for 1/3 cup butter.  I had added a whole stick (1/2 c).  Ack!  I threw in more flour - a lot more flour, but it still wasn't enough.  When I baked up the scraps they spread all over the place: 

They tasted fine, but these are not proper scones.  Proper scones stand at attention.  I can't in good conscience bring these to tea, so I'll have to try again.

My misfortune is my music group's good fortune.  I'll bake these up and take them to rehearsal.  

Meanwhile...the scone count stands at 36. 

Onward.
patinagle16: (scone)
Bubonicon approaches, and I'm gearing up for the Authors Tea.  I'm making scones again.  Currant scones this time.

Last year I made 20 dozen scones, and there were leftovers.  This year I've decided to make a gross of scones (144).  Since I get about 3 dozen per batch, that will be four batches. 

I have made some scones throughout the year and have learned a couple of tricks to keep them from flopping over.  One is to press down on each scone with the heel of the hand after cutting it.  Another is to cut straight down, no twisting. 

I also picked up on a trick from America's Test Kitchen:  freeze the butter, then grate it, then freeze it again before adding it to the dry ingredients.  I haven't decided yet if this is worth the effort.  It involves a fair amount of cleanup - one food processor and all its bits, very buttery.  But it also cuts out the tedium of cutting the butter into the dough.  And the cleanup can be mitigated by grating more than one stick of butter at once, and freezing them in separate containers.  I think I'll try both ways this week.  

First batch this morning.  Frozen butter.

Irregularities:  The sugar went "bloop" so I didn't have an accurate sugar measure.  And I forgot to add the currants!  I do that a lot - they're sitting right there, but I guess I'm worrying about the consistency of the dough and not overkneading, and I forget.  

I pressed the currants into the top of the rolled-out dough before cutting.  I think they'll be fine. 

I cut scones for the tea only from the first and second rollout.  Usually that comes to right around three dozen.  After that, I mush the scraps together and get a few more - which are MINE!  ALL MINE!

Tea and scones for breakfast.  Ahhh.
patinagle16: (scone)
The Right Tools department for baking day: parchment paper. It enabled me to bake multiple batches of scones without having to clean the baking sheets each time. Also made it easy to move the scones to a rack for cooling and a tray for final cooling.

Baking took about three hours, at 16 minutes per batch of 30. Quite a few of the scones flopped over, probably because they were cut a little too thick. I plan to practice through the year, and learn to make them so they don't do that. I have an idea for a trick that may fix the problem.

Floppy or not, they were a success and got lots of nice compliments. One person who has lived in England told me they were very authentic, which pleased me a great deal.

As I baked my way through the geologic layers in the freezer, I noticed that the scones became less regular. This means that practice improved my technique, so that the last batches were cut much cleaner and nicer than the first batches. That had nothing to do with whether they flopped over, however.

There were scones left over, so if I do them again next year I will probably scale back, maybe to ten dozen. Meanwhile, there's a nice bag of scones made from the mushed together scraps in the freezer, to be baked up whenever the mood strikes. And when those are gone, I know how easy it will be to make more.

Yay, scones!
patinagle16: (scone)
Music: Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Well, I think I've been doing this long enough. This morning as I was about to cut in the butter I realized I hadn't looked at the recipe. I've got it memorized.

Still, I had a sense of melancholy as I put things away. This has been fun.

Today's batch of 32 brings us up over 300 scones. The really fun part will be baking them all on Sunday morning, and taking them to the con for the Authors Tea. I hope everyone at Bubonicon stops in for a scone! There will be raspberry jam to go with, and lots of other goodies provided by the authors who are hosting the tea. Come and enjoy having your tea poured by bestselling writers!

Thanks to everyone who's commented. I'll post a report when it's all done.


Scone count: 312
Goal: 240+
patinagle16: (scone)
freezerMusic: Handel's Water Music

The freezer's getting full. I removed some green chile cheese tamales which I'll have to do something with. Maybe I'll take them to the pre-con party.

I solved the problem of being out of jam. I happen to love currants, and I happened to have some in the cupboard, so I mixed some into the scraps and baked them up for breakfast. Great with just butter.

Bought plates, cups, etc. yesterday. Today is for packing up everything but the last minute stuff. In a fit of efficiency, I decided to find out the capacity of the four teapots I have on hand. Two hold 38 oz., two hold 40 oz., so very close. That helps with the brewing, because we often end up switching pots as different teas run low.

Today's batch: 31 scones

Scone count: 280
Goal: 240+
patinagle16: (scone)
Music:  Soundtrack from Gosford Park

We've had lovely rain the last couple of days, so it's a nice cool morning, perfect for hot tea and baking.  Killed the second 5-pound bag of flour on this batch. 

As I was rolling out the scones, the local gang of ravens—a dozen or so—were dancing on the roof.  These are massive birds, and make quite a startling thump overhead.  They all perched in a tree for a bit, as if wondering whether they'd get any scones, then flew off to patrol the neighborhood.  Maybe they'll find a nice bit of roadkill for breakfast. 

Ramping up for the Authors Tea.  Washed teapots, polished serving things, made charming little signs, and started gathering all the paraphernalia together.  Am wondering how to transport the scones once they're baked.  There will be a lot of them, and I don't want to stack them too deep or the ones on the bottom will get crushed.  Will continue to ponder. 

Meanwhile, 32 more scones in the freezer.  This brings us up to 20 dozen, but I'm still going to make two more batches.  I have all this cream, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste.  Or to my waist. 

Speaking of which, I'm out of black raspberry jam.  How did that happen?

Scone count: 249
Goal: 240+

patinagle16: (scone)
Time to make the scones! 

It's surprising how easily this is fitting into my routine.  I can picture myself making scones every morning indefinitely, which would probably be dangerous. 

There's always a moment, when I add the cream, that it seems like the dough will be too dry.  I mix with a spoon, but there's still lots of flour.  I gather it together and start to knead, and something magic happens.  The flour all gets absorbed and the dough becomes a cool, moist blob.

Except this morning, that didn't happen.  I was thinking about how it always seems too dry, and working it together, and then I glanced at my measuring cup and realized that I had poured the last of a quart of cream into it, intending to top it off, but never did so.  Not enough cream in the dough!  I added more, trying to gague from the cream left on the measure how much had gone in already.  

Fortunately, this was not a fail.  Though the batch contains an inexact amount of cream, the scraps baked up nicely and my dear spouse attested to their success.

So, 32 more scones are in the freezer.  Whew.

Scone count: 217
Goal: 240+
patinagle16: (scone)
toolsMore tools. These are the ones I use to roll out and cut the scones.

The cutting board is a square of black granite with little flecks of mica or something equally sparkly.  It's 12 inches square, just the right size for a batch of scones.  In the upper right is a sifting can, about the size of a soup can, with a metal screen top that makes it super easy to sift flour.  (Another favorite kitchen tool - it's great for making gravy, too.)

The roller is a bolillo, a traditional New Mexican tortilla roller, 10.5 inches long.  The smaller size makes it easy to handle. 

The cutter is a 1.5 inch round.  This makes a small scone, which is what I wanted for this tea.  Lotsa little scones. 

It's Saturday, and my dear spouse said, yes he would like some scones please.  So all the scraps are getting baked up today.

Today's batch:  32 scones

Scone count: 185
Goal: 240+

patinagle16: (scone)
toolsMusic: Saltimbanco (Cirque du Soleil)

My dear spouse is fond of saying that the right tools make all the difference. Here are some of the tools I'm using to make scones. I'm getting very friendly with them.

That's a pastry cutter nestling inside the big bread bowl under the spoon. Having tried to cut pastry without one, using two knives, for example (we won't talk about the food processor), I must say the pastry cutter makes the job much easier. 

Another tool I'm very fond of is the sliding measuring spoon at upper left.  Measures anything from 1/8 to a teaspoon.  Great tool.  

Little stub ends of butter sticks are collecting in the refrigerator.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of butter, or 2/3 of a stick.  I should be able to use two leftover ends for a recipe, but somehow it feels more right to start with a fresh stick. 

Fortunately, there are other uses for stub ends of butter.  Like slathering them on scones.  Although, considering what goes into them, putting butter on scones is almost redundant.

Today's batch:  31 scones.  We are at the halfway mark.

Scone count: 153
Goal: 240+

patinagle16: (scone)
Breakfast: yogurt and peaches. Managed to resist the urge to turn on the oven.

This morning's music was Chopin's Nocturnes - a bit more contemplative.

Killed the first 5-pound bag of flour. Another waits in the pantry. I will need to buy more cream soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Got 32 scones out of today's batch - not sure why the extra 2.

When I was getting butter out of the freezer, a plastic container of leftovers leaped out. Did you know that plastic containers that have been in the freezer will shatter on impact? My lunch has been chosen by fate.

Scone count: 122
Goal: 240+
patinagle16: (cooking)
sconeThis morning I felt the need for some music to make scones by, so I popped Mozart's Eine Kline Nachtmusik in the player. Brisk and cheerful, perfect for cooking.

Thinking you might like to see what we're talking about, I baked up a scone to photograph. Of course, having baked it, I then had to eat it. Ah, the sacrifice.

Very good with black raspberry jam.

Moved a loaf of bread out of the freezer and tossed some ancient ice pops.

Scone count: 90
Goal: 240+
patinagle16: (cooking)
Managed to resist having scones for breakfast (strawberries and yogurt instead), but since I'm going to tea later today and will have scones there, it's not much of a feat. 

Yesterday after washing up, I set aside the scone-making equipment instead of putting it away.  That was a good idea; it made the whole process easier than if I'd had to get things out of cupboards. 

Thirty more scones are in the freezer.  This batch is slightly taller than yesterday's, but I still got 30 out of it.  If the count remains consistent, I'll have 300 scones for the Authors Tea. 

I wonder how many calories are in a scone.  I think I don't want to know.

Scone count:  60
Goal:  240+
patinagle16: (cooking)
Inspired by Julie & Julia, a delightful movie (Meryl Streep is brilliant as Julia Child), I've decided to blog about a much less ambitious project I'm undertaking.  For this year's Authors Tea at Bubonicon, I'm going to make cream scones.  Since we get dozens of guests (100?  300? we've never counted...), I figured I should make ten batches, or approximately 20 dozen small scones, hoping that each guest will get at least one.  My plan is to make the scones ahead, freeze them, and bake them the morning of the tea, August 30.

When I calculated the groceries, I knew I was going to have a problem.  40 cups of flour, 10 cups of sugar, 3.5 cups of butter, 5 quarts cream.  I am not sure my freezer will hold all this.  I am planning to use up as much of the food that is presently in the freezer as possible, to make room for scones. 

But, onward!

Today I made the first batch of scones.  Tried using the food processor to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, which I thought someone had recommended. 

Fail. 

Maybe this works for pie crust, but it doesn't work for scones.  Not enough butter in proportion to the dry stuff.  My little butter lumps just swam around in a sea of flour.  I dumped everything into my big bread bowl and got out the pastry cutter.  Much better. 

There are now 30 scones in the freezer.  Two more (from the mushed together scraps) comprised my breakfast.  I should not have scones for breakfast every day, but they're awfully hard to resist. 

Scone count:  30
Goal:  240+


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