February 22, 2013

Assorted Scones

This week we divided and conquered. We made three different scones: chocolate cherry, bacon cheddar and cinnamon honey. There is something for everyone. All that is missing is a cup of tea and an episode of Downton Abbey. These scone recipes require that you freeze and then bake so they are great to have on-hand for unexpected guests or when you're just craving a sweet.

chocolate cherry scones

Tools of the Trade: Homemade Creme Fraiche

The plain scones recipe ask for creme fraiche. Since it is a little pricey I did a bit of research and it turns out you can make it yourself with just heavy cream and buttermilk or yogurt. The best part? It is half the cost of buying it.

February 15, 2013


Well, we're finally out of the cookie chapter! We all had a lot of fun and learned a lot, but I think everyone is eager to try something new. The next chapter is scones and muffins, yay! To avoid a lot of repetition, we're splitting up some of the recipes that are similar in technique but different in flavor, like we did for macarons. This week, we are all making plain scones, to prepare for next week, where we'll all choose one of three different flavor scones. So far, only a few of us have completed the recipe, but we'll add more results as we get them.

February 8, 2013


Macarons, the one recipe many bakers approach with trepidation. Now these aren't the same as macaroons, the American coconut cookie dipped in chocolate. These are sandwich cookies consisting of a meringue cookie exterior and filled with buttercream, jam or ganache. They are also gluten free because the base is almond flour which is ground, blanched almonds.

Yes there is a certain technique to getting the batter just right, letting the piped macarons form a skin and having the oven at the correct temperature but ultimately the recipe is not something that can't be mastered with a little practice. And after all the successful things we've made thus far from the book, I was confident this recipe would pull through. So did it?

Taking a look at the photos from fellow bakers below, I'd say they mastered it. Tres bien! The macaron shells all developed the desired "feet", where the meringue rises just so that it looks like a hamburger bun, flat on the top, shiny and smooth. Bravo!

vanilla macarons

February 5, 2013

Tools of the Trade: Tile/Icing Comb


To create the impressive wave pattern on the florentine cookies, Thomas Keller uses a tile comb (if purchased from a hardware store) or if you'd prefer a baking-specific tool, it is referred to as an icing or decorating comb. Note, for this recipe you need a comb that has a rectangle edge, not triangle.

This is an inexpensive tool and worth having for more than just the cookie recipe. Cake decorators use it to smooth out buttercream or create patterns on the sides of their cakes. 
  1. Sur la Table- Union Square location, online, Amazon I purchased this Ateco metal version from Sur la Table. Ateco also makes a plastic version but after doing some research, found that the metal version will give a cleaner look particularly on cakes.

  2. Lowes (thanks Leticia)- surprisingly a hardware store is one of the best places to get baking equipment. Leticia found this tile comb at a bargain for $2.

Tools of the Trade: Orange Peel

The florentine cookies ask for candied orange peel. There is a recipe in the book which is a bit involved so I went on a search in the city to look for them. If you are looking in your area, I'd check gourmet shops or Italian markets where candied orange is commonly used in panettone.

  1. Mollie Stones- Pacific Heights location (featured in the above photo)
    8 oz for $5  
  2. Whole Foods- Noe Valley location (thanks Tania!)
  1. Boulettes Larder, Ferry Building
    As of winter 2013 they have candied Meyer lemon that you can purchase by the ounce. I'm sure they'd do candied orange at some point as well.

February 1, 2013


After a short foray into canine treats, this week we're back to baking for people again. Florentines are a French confection, although their name would suggest otherwise. These cookies were named after the city of Florence, though their origin is most likely from France, as you can find them in most French bakeries.

TK's version deviates slightly from the traditional, adding a layer of tart dough to add stability and flavor. We all agreed it was a wonderful addition. Overall, our bakers found these cookies to be easy to make, once all the various components were ready to assemble. A bit time consuming, maybe, but definitely worth the effort.