Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones

The original recipe for these Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones is from a handwritten manuscript dated from the 1920s. I’m using the version found in the cookbook Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters.

This is a very easy scone recipe. The cranberries give the scones a unique texture and the orange juice provides a hint of citrus flavor. Enjoy these scones with breakfast or afternoon tea.


Cranberry-Orange Cream Scones
Makes: 12 Scones
Source: Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

  • 2 cups flour (plus 1/4 cup for kneading dough)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, plumped in 4 tablespoons orange juice*
  • 1/4 cup sugar

*Plumping Raisins (or dried Cranberries): Using tea, orange juice or water, bring the liquid to a boil, immerse the raisins, and remove from the heat. Allow at least 30 minutes for raisins to absorb the liquid. If you don't use them the same day you plump them, refrigerate and use within 1 week.

Raisins plumping in orange juice

Variation: You can substitute a heaping cup of fresh blueberries for the cranberries if you like. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the dough after kneading it twice, and then continue with the instructions.


Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 425F. Cover a 14-inch by 16-inch baking sheet with foil, shiny side up. Coat the foil with vegetable spray or use a silicone liner.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Combine eggs and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and add to butter mixture. Add grated orange zest and the sifted dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough begins to form.

Squeeze orange juice from cranberries and incorporate fruit into dough with your fingers.

Place dough on a generously floured surface. Knead gently five times, turning corners of dough toward the center. Pat dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle.

Using a floured knife, cut dough into 12 equal wedges. I cut them into 16 smaller wedges.

Using a floured wide spatula, transfer each wedge to baking sheet.

Brush wedges with the remaining heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops of scones are lightly brown and bottoms are golden brown. Place baking sheet on rack and cool about 10 minutes.

Here are the scones ready to eat!

Note: They are best when eaten the day they are made. You can serve the scones with warm butter and jam, but they don't need it. They taste great plain!

Happy Baking! 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread

This braided Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread makes a wonderful treat for Thanksgiving or other Holiday Festivities.


This bread is very easy to make and the end result is definitely rewarding. It is one of my favorite breads to make and eat!  It makes a beautiful centerpiece.

Cranberry - Walnut Celebration Bread

Adapted from: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Days to Make: 1
15 minutes mixing
3 1/4 hours fermentation, shaping, and proofing
50 to 55 minutes baking


  • 3 cups (13. 5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounce) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon (.19 ounce) salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons (.39 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 ounce) orange or lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs, (3.3 ounces) slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk or any kind of milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup (2 to 4 ounces) water, at room temperature
  • 6 oz package dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash


Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the orange extract, eggs, buttermilk, and butter.

Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), slowly adding just enough water to make a soft, pliable ball of dough. I mixed it by hand using a Danish dough whisk. It worked great!

Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook) for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky, but not sticky. It should have a soft pliable quality, not stiff and resistant. If it is too stiff, knead (or mix) in small amounts of water until it softens; if the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle in small amounts of flour as needed.

Add the dried cranberries and knead (or mix) for another 2 minutes, or until they are evenly distributed. I kneaded the cranberries in by hand. It was rather tricky but I did get them all mixed in. It would probably have been easier if I had used a mixer.

Then gently knead (or mix) in the walnut pieces until they are evenly distributed. I didn't use the full 3/4 cup of nuts. There were just too many to get them all in the dough. I ended up using about 1/2 cup and it worked fine.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Transfer the dough to the counter and divide it into 6 pieces. 3 pieces of 10 ounces each and 3 pieces of 4 ounces each.

Roll out the larger pieces into strands about 9 inches long, thicker in the middle and slightly tapered toward the ends.

Roll the smaller pieces into strands about 7 inches long and similarly tapered.

Braid the large strands using the 3-braid technique, and then braid the small strands in the same pattern.

Here is how the 3-Braid technique works:

The 3-braid technique begins in the middle. First you place 3 strands of equal weight and length perpendicular to you and parallel to one another. The easiest way to do it is to number the strands from the left, 1, 2, 3.

Beginning in the middle of the loaf and working toward you, follow this pattern: right outside strand over the middle strand (3 over 2); Left outside strand over the middle strand (1 over 2).

Repeat until you reach the bottom end of the dough. Pinch the end closed to seal and rotate the loaf 180 degrees so that the unbraided end is facing you.

Continue braiding but now weave the outside strand under the middle strand until you reach the end of the loaf. Pinch together the tips at both ends to seal the finished loaf.

Now repeat the 3-braid technique with the smaller loaf.

Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Place the large braid on the pan. Then center the smaller braid on top in double-decker fashion.  Brush the entire assembly with half of the egg wash and refrigerate the remaining egg wash to be used later.

Proof uncovered at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until the dough nearly doubles in size. Brush the loaf a second time with the remaining egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 325° F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and then continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaf is deep golden brown, feels very firm, and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature at the center of the loaf should register between 185° and 190° F.

Remove the bread from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

Happy Baking! 


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Pilgrim Loaf

This Pilgrim Loaf is a tasty bread that celebrates the flavors of the Harvest. It is uniquely shaped like a Pilgrim’s collar and includes brown rice, pecans, honey and molasses for a savory delight. This Harvest Bread would make a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving feast. It has a nutty flavor with just a hint of sweetness.

Pilgrim Loaf Recipe and Instructions
Makes 1 loaf
The recipe for this festive bread is courtesy of ACH Foods (Fleischmann Yeast).

  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked wild rice or brown rice, cooled* (I used a mixture of long grain & wild rice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
* 1-1/2 cups cooked rice equals about 1/3 cup uncooked wild rice or 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice.

    In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, butter, honey, and molasses until very warm (120°F to 130°F). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in rice, nuts and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

    Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll dough to 9-inch circle.

    Fold in half, slightly off center, so top layer is set back 1 inch from bottom edge.

    With sharp knife, make 4 equally spaced cuts from curved edge toward folded edge, about 2 / 3 of the way across loaf (cutting through both layers).

    Place on greased baking sheet that has been sprinkled with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle top of loaf with remaining cornmeal.

    Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes or until done. Remove from sheet; cool on wire rack before slicing or serving.  Or use the Pilgrim Loaf as part of a festive table decoration.


    Happy Baking!

    Harvest Bread Recipes:

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Holiday Pumpkin Bread

    This festive Holiday Pumpkin Bread recipe makes two wreaths so keep one wreath for yourself and give one away; or serve one, and make the other into Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

    These wreaths also make beautiful centerpieces for your Holiday dinner. I've got company coming for Thanksgiving Dinner so I plan to use one for a centerpiece and the other for bread pudding.

    Holiday Pumpkin Bread
    The recipe for this moist and tasty golden wreath is courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

    Yield: Makes two 8-inch wreaths

    • 2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
    • 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) White Wheat Flour*
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup (1 5/8 ounces) diced crystallized ginger, optional
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
    • 15-ounce can pumpkin
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) melted butter or canola oil (1 3/4 ounces)
    * You can make this bread completely with all-purpose flour if you prefer.

      Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them—by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine—until you’ve made a smooth, somewhat sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl,

      Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It should have expanded somewhat, but won’t be real puffy.

      Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface and divide it in half.  Then divide each half into three pieces.
      Roll each piece into an 18" log.

      Working with three logs at a time, make a braid, pinching the ends together.
      Coil the braid into a lightly greased 8" or 9" cake pan, shaping it into a wreath-like circle and pressing the ends together where they meet.
      Repeat with the remaining logs. Cover both pans with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the wreaths rise for about 90 minutes, until they look puffy, though not doubled in bulk.

      Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190"F.
      Remove the wreaths from the oven, and allow them to cool on a rack.

      These wreaths taste great and make beautiful centerpieces.

      Happy Baking!


      Here are some additional festive bread recipes and resources:

      Sunday, November 2, 2008

      Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

      It’s always fun to make festive breads for Holiday gatherings. I particularly enjoy making these Pumpkin Crescent Rolls. The canned pumpkin adds a wonderful, deep color to the rolls and pumpkin pie spice provides just a hint of flavor.

      You'll like these rolls even if you're not a fan of pumpkin bread. My sons would never have known there was pumpkin in the rolls if I hadn't told them. They thought the rolls had cinnamon in them. My oldest son loves cinnamon so that’s a good thing.

      Pumpkin Crescent Rolls in a Basket


      Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

      Preparation Time: 25 minutes
      Start to Finish: 2 hours, 40 minutes

      Tip: To help with Holiday preparations, you can prepare these rolls up to 12 hours ahead, then cover and refrigerate. About 1 1/2 hours before serving, remove rolls to a warm place to rise until double in size. Bake at 400 for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

      • 3 1/2 to 4 cups All-purpose flour
      • 1 package regular active dry yeast
      • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 2 to 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
      • 3/4 cup water
      • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
      • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
      • 1 egg


      Yield: 16 rolls.

      In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, the yeast, brown sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. 

      In 1-quart saucepan, heat water, pumpkin and 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat to 120°F to 130°F, stirring occasionally.

      Add pumpkin mixture and egg to flour mixture. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  By hand, stir in just enough of the remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour to make a soft dough that leaves sides of bowl.

      Place dough on floured surface. Knead 3 to 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.

      I covered the dough with a bowl and let it rest about 10 minutes before kneading. Letting it rest (autolyse) helps the gluten start to develop so you don’t use as much flour during the kneading process.

      Place dough in large bowl greased with oil, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double in size.

      Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead a few times. Shape dough into a ball, then flatten. 
      Roll into 15-inch circle.

      Spread with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cut into 16 wedges.

      Roll up each wedge, starting at wide end. On ungreased cookie sheet, place rolls with points underneath and curve slightly.

      Cover and let rise in warm place 20 to 30 minutes or until double in size.

      Pumpkin Crescent Rolls rising

      Heat oven to 400. Bake uncovered 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

      Serve these aromatic rolls warm.

      Pumpkin Crescent Rolls


      These rolls were a big hit with my family. I hope they will be with yours as well. 

      Happy Baking!

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