Sunday, March 29, 2009

Whole Wheat Scones

These whole wheat scones are also known as Pilgrim Scones. The combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours, honey, buttermilk and raisins makes these scones delicious as well as nutritious.

The scones are also very easy to make. If you're looking for an easy scones' recipe that doesn't use heavy cream or lard, try this one. I think you’ll be pleased.

Recipe for Pilgrim Scones

The recipe for these scones is found in a community cookbook called "What's Cooking at the Library?" sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library System. The cookbook is dedicated to the fight for the cure for cancer.

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk


Mix dry ingredients and raisins together. In large bowl, mix egg, honey and buttermilk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 parts, alternating with melted butter. Make a big ball.

Cut into thirds. Make the thirds into flat balls. Cut these into fourths.

Place the cut pieces onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake them for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. then lower to 350 degrees F. and bake until brown.

Cool the scones on a wire rack before serving.

Now, all you need to do is try these yummy scones yourself and let me know how you like them!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Walnut Buttermilk Scones

These Walnut Buttermilk Scones are delicious! The buttermilk provides the moisture, the walnuts add a little crunchiness and the creamy cinnamon sugar topping puts them over the edge. Simply wonderful!

The actual name of the scones is "Spicy Walnut Buttermilk Scones" but my taste tester said they should be called "Delicious" so that's what I decided to call them.

The scones have a rather dense consistency and are made even more so by the chopped walnuts. If you prefer something different, you can substitute seedless dark raisins, dried currants, or chopped citrus rind for the nuts. You can also substitute various spices for the cinnamon.

I really like the combination of the walnuts and cinnamon, but I think these would also taste good with dried currants or raisins in addition to the walnuts and cinnamon. My son suggested that so I think I'll try that next time.

Walnut Buttermilk Scones
The recipe for these wonderful scones is from Biscuit Bliss: 101 Foolproof Recipes for Fresh and Fluffy Biscuits in Just Minutes by James Villas.

Makes: 1 dozen

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into bits
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and work it in quickly with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and walnuts. Stir just till the dry ingredients are moistened.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead about 8 times. Divide the dough in half.

Pat each half into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Arrange the wedges on the prepared baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart.

In a small bowl, combine the cream, cinnamon, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and stir until well blended. Brush the tops of the wedges with the mixture

Bake in the center of the oven till golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Happy Baking!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish Freckle Bread

I’m celebrating St. Patrick's Day by making Irish Freckled Bread. It is referred to as freckled bread because of the raisins or currants that are sprinkled throughout.

This particular recipe uses yeast rather than baking soda and potato water rather than buttermilk. It produces a very tender and flavorful loaf due to the combination of mashed potato, potato water, and eggs. It is great for toast and freezes well.

Irish Freckle Bread Recipe
Makes: 2 medium loaves
From Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads 

  • 1 potato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup dark raisins or currants


Preparation: 30 - 40 minutes

Grease 2 medium (8 1/2" -x- 4 1/2") loaf pans.

In a pot, boil the potato in the water for 20 to 30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the water (120° - 130°) and put the potato aside to cool before mashing it.

By Hand or Mixer: 5 minutes

Pour 1 1/2 cups flour in the mixing bowl and add the potato, yeast, sugar, and salt. Pour in the cup of potato water and beat until a smooth batter.

First Rising: 1 - 1 1/2 hours

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside to rise and become puffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Kneading: 10 minutes

Stir down the batter and add the eggs, butter, and raisins. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a soft, elastic ball of dough. Don't add too much flour - the dough should be quite soft. If it is sticky, add sprinkles of flour. Knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion until the dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Knead for an equal length of time if using a mixer dough hook.

Shaping: 15 minutes

There are two different ways to form Freckle Bread. For both the dough is divided into 4 pieces and allowed to rest for 5 minutes before shaping.

The first method is to roll each piece lengthwise into a cylinder as long as the bread pan. It will be about 2" in diameter. Repeat with a second, and place the 2 pieces side by side in the pan. They will rise together and present a divided crust down the length of the loaf.

The second loaf can be formed in the same fashion, or the pieces can be shaped into balls and placed side by side. They will rise together to look like two half loaves.

Second Rising: 45 minutes

Cover with wax paper and leave in a warm place to rise to the edge of the pans, about 45 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat: Preheat the oven to 375°F 20 minutes before baking.

Baking Time: 35 minutes

Place the pans in the oven and bake until the crusts are nicely browned, 35 minutes. Turn one loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom crust with a forefinger. A hard, hollow sound means the bread is baked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. (If using a convection oven, reduce heat to 50°.)

Final Step

Remove the bread from the oven and place the loaves on a wire rack until cooled.

Then slice and enjoy!

This Irish Freckle Bread tastes great and it toasts beautifully although I couldn't wait to toast it. I just ate the end piece plain and it was wonderful!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Brown Soda Bread

This Basic Brown Soda Bread is made with buttermilk from the buttermilk plant I started a few days ago.

This simple, wholesome loaf is delicious eaten fresh with butter, cheese or with a bowl of homemade soup.

Basic Brown Soda Bread Recipe
Makes: 1 large loaf
The Best of Irish Breads and Baking by Georgina Campbell.

  • 1 1b/450g/4 cups coarse wholemeal (whole-wheat) flour
  • 6 oz/175g/11/2 cups plain white (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 rounded tsp/1 1/4 US tsp bread (baking) soda
  • 1 tsp/1 1/2 US teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pint/450 ml/2 cups buttermilk (approx.)


Preheat a hot oven, 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in enough buttermilk to make a fairly soft dough.

Turn onto a work surface dusted with wholemeal (whole wheat) flour and knead lightly until smooth underneath.

Form into a circle, about 1 1/2"/4 cm thick, and put onto a baking sheet. Mark a deep cross in the top with a floured knife. I decided to bake my in a casserole dish to give it a better shape.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. I baked the bread with the lid on for about 30 minutes, then baked it without the lid for the last 10 minutes or so.

Cool on wire rack.  You might want to wrap it in a clean tea/dish towel to keep the crust soft.

This bread tastes good warmed with butter.

Thanks for visiting The Bread Experience Blog.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Make your own buttermilk plant

Buttermilk is an essential ingredient in traditional soda breads so I decided to learn how to make a buttermilk plant. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and creates gases to make the bread rise. This reaction is very quick so be sure to have a hot oven ready and bake the bread right away before the gas dissipates.

Buttermilk can be cultured quite easily using a buttermilk plant. This version is adapted and updated from Florence Irwin's 1949 recipe.

How to Make a Buttermilk Plant:

Recipe found in The Best of Irish Breads & Baking by Georgina Campbell.

I started the buttermilk plant several days ago so the buttermilk would be ready to use in some Brown Soda Bread.


  • 3/4 pint/450 ml/2 cups skimmed milk
  • 1/4 pint/150 ml/1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 oz/25g yeast
  • 2 tsp/2 1/2 US tsp sugar


Heat the milk to lukewarm by adding the boiling water. Then add the yeast and sugar. Pour into a sterilized screw-top jar, allowing enough head space for the contents to be shaken.

Place the jar on its side in a warm, dark place (a cupboard is perfect).

Shake several times a day for 4-6 days, depending on the temperature, while the buttermilk plant is forming.

I let it sit in the cabinet for several days and shook it a few times a day. It was a little cold and rainy this past week so it took about 6 days for it to culture.

Here is the buttermilk plan resting in the cabinet after it has been shaken.

Then remove the jar and open it carefully to prevent it bubbling over.

I actually had that happen. The jar exploded in my cabinet and buttermilk ran all over the counter. So don't do that!
If you look closely at the photo above, you will notice that I placed the jar inside a plastic container so if it exploded again, it wouldn't get all over everything.

Strain the contents into a jug -- the cultured sour milk in the jug is used as buttermilk. You can see bits of yeast in the strainer.

The lumpy bits of yeast left in the strainer can be washed and re-used indefinitely. As the plant grows, it can be divided to share with others.

Here is the strained buttermilk. Now it can be used in a recipe.

I used a jar that I had washed and sterilized to store the buttermilk. Then I put it in the refrigerator for a few days.

To re-use the buttermilk plant:

Pour lukewarm water through the bits left in the strainer and wash off all remaining milk. Return the yeast (the buttermilk plant) to the washed and scalded jar, adding lukewarm milk and water as before. Repeat the ripening process, straining again after about 4 days (maybe 2 days in summer) when it is sour and thick.

At the end of each day, any leftover milk can be added to the jar if there is room.

Always wash all the old milk from the yeast and make sure that the jar is properly sterilized before starting another brew.

  • Although the results are not quite the same, yogurt is sometimes mixed with sweet (fresh) milk and works in a way which is similar to buttermilk.
  • Cream of tarter can be added to the dry ingredients to provide the acid.
  • Sweet milk can be soured by adding lemon juice.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make the buttermilk plant.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Buttermilk Yeast Biscuits

These Buttermilk Yeast Biscuits utilize a starter made from the buttermilk dry yeast cakes I made a few days ago.

Make the starter the night before you want to bake the biscuits, and let it sit overnight. Then put the starter in the refrigerator until you're ready to make the biscuits. These biscuits are a little different than your average biscuits; they are square and flaky but definitely good.

Buttermilk Yeast Biscuits
Recipe is from Sourdough Breads and Coffee Cakes by Ada Lou Roberts


  • 1 cake homemade Buttermilk Dry Yeast (or 1 package commercial dry yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • Flour

Biscuit Dough:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft lard (I used shortening)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Soft butter or margarine


I started this process last night and let the starter sit overnight. Then I put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the biscuits this evening.

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Scald the buttermilk and cool to just warm. Add yeast and enough flour (about 1 cup) to the buttermilk to make a thick but pourable batter.

Pour into glass jar.

Set in warm place to rise.

Stir down and store, covered, in refrigerator.

Making the biscuits:

Take 1 1/2 cups of the starter, add 1 cup of flour sifted with 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and add 2 tablespoons soft lard. I don't normally have lard on hand so I used shortening instead.

Stir in about 1/2 cup more flour to make dough stiff enough to handle easily.

Turn out on pastry board, knead lightly. Roll out into square not more than 1/4-inch thick.

Spread with soft butter or margarine. Cut into 1 1/2-inch strips.

Stack four deep and cut into 1 1/2-inch squares.

The biscuits can be baked immediately in oven preheated to 425 degrees F. until golden brown, stored in the refrigerator for later baking or set in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours before baking. The flavor and texture are wonderful whatever method is used. The layers partially separate, brown beautifully on the edges and are as tender and flaky as pie crust.

I let the biscuits sit for about 45 minutes before I baked them.

Here are the biscuits ready to be eaten. I could hardly get the picture taken. My son had his hand ready to snatch one. I guess that's a good thing.

To replenish the starter:

Add 1 cup of scalded, cooled buttermilk and 1 cup of flour each time to the starter left in the jar, allow to rise, stir down and return to the refrigerator.

Happy Baking!

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