Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Scones for Spring

It's officially Spring, and a wonderful time to be entertaining outdoors again, after having been driven inside by blowing snow and freezing temperatures all winter long.

When I think of spring, I think of freshness and gardening and flowers and tea parties and Mother's Day brunches.  What more lovely way is there to entertain than with garden parties, and spring hats, and flouncy dresses, and pastel gloves, and delicate pastries, and pots of tea?

A spring brunch or tea party is a leisurely yet classy way to connect with the ladies, throw a baby or bridal shower, or celebrate a little girl's birthday party.  The children are free to scamper all over the yard playing lawn games, while the grownups chat and catch up with each other over cups of tea.  (The men secretly enjoy it, too, although many won't admit it.)

Scones can be cut into wedges prior to or after baking.
And tea parties and brunches always make me think of scones.

Whether it's the British classic dotted with currants, or southern-style laced with buttermilk and golden raisins, or studded with crowd-pleasing chocolate-chips, scones are endlessly versatile and always appealing.

Crumbly, buttery scones make a perfect canvas for Devonshire or Clotted Cream, and Lemon Curd or Raspberry Jam.

Traditional British scones tend to be round, fluffier and less sweet ... more like a biscuit.  American-style scones are sweeter and more adventurous with their different flavor combinations, and usually triangular-shaped.  They can be cut out with a biscuit-cutter, drop-style, or patted into shape.  While scones tend to be crumbly, they should never be dry ... even if they are meant to be taken with tea, butter or clotted cream, and jam.

This time of year, when mornings are dewy and budding with promise and the songbirds are singing, we can make a different kind of scone every single day of the season.  The possibilities are endless:

Strawberry-cream scones, blueberry-lemon scones, orange-cranberry scones, cherry-chocolate-chip scones, raspberry-almond scones, lemon-lavender-poppyseed scones, cinnamon scones, vanilla-hazelnut scones, oatmeal-raisin scones, apricot-and-crystallized-ginger scones, maple-pecan scones, rum-raisin scones, chai-pear scones, walnut-and-fig scones, and even coconut-lime scones.

And savory scones, such as scallion-and-cheddar, bacon-cheese-and-chive, jalapeƱo-and-jack, or ham-and-cheese, make for a satisfying brunch-time treat.  Prosciutto and Gruyere is a delicious favorite.  A quick search on Pinterest or any search engine will yield all kinds of recipes and possibilities, both sweet and savory.

We enjoy tea-time all through the year.  Our annual formal Holiday Tea is one of our favorite traditions during Christmas.

And we can also enjoy scones any time of year.  Pumpkin scones, cranberry-orange scones, and ginger chai-spiced scones are perfect for fall and winter.

But there's nothing like springtime scones that we can enjoy right now at brunch or afternoon tea, to remind us to savor every luxurious moment this beautiful time of year.

And don't forget to make some for Mother's Day!!!
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Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Hello Spring!  Hello Cookies!
Our latest cookbook is out!  A book full of Afternoon Tea's cookie and bar recipes!
My Favorite Mugs
A menagerie of mugs ... one of life's simple pleasures.
First Sign of Spring Quiche
Spring means quiche, at least it does at my house!
Our Current Obsession: French Macarons
Light, airy, delicate pastel puffs of mouth-watering deliciousness
A Bridal Shower Tea ...
the perfect way to entertain!
A Baby Shower Tea Party
Celebrating a little one's imminent arrival.
May Flowers
Surrounding yourself with flowers!
Love Tea Sandwiches?
Spring is for Tea Parties, Baby & Bridal Showers, and Garden Parties -- that means lots and lots of delightful tea sandwiches!
Happy Mother's Day!
Wishing all of the Moms out there a very wonderful, healthy and happy Mother's Day!
Who Really Needs An Egg Plate?
Not me.  But I'm probably going to get one anyway!
Mother's Day Tea
A perfect way to celebrate and spend time with our Moms.
Breakfast in Bed
A time-honored tradition for Mother's Day!
Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life
Romantic Foods
A special touch ...
The Romance of Travel
Falling in love with a new destination, adventure, and vistas
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
Baking is Love
No one has to bake ... ever.  So when they do, love is there.
The Lenten Season
A reminder that accepting the challenge of self-discipline is good for the soul
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter 
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
The Problem with Pesto ...
It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
The Icing on the Cake
Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
Baking Cakes
Basic baking tips for beautiful layer cakes
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Do-Gooders!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our vets' and soldiers' total health and wellbeing.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Baking Is Love

I read somewhere not too long ago that nobody ever has to bake.

You kind of have to cook, at least sometimes or eventually.  We need to feed ourselves and our families ... it's kind of a duty, an obligation ... and most of us don't eat out for every single meal.  Even though every act of cooking is in itself a gift at some level, it is still understood that someone in a household generally has to do at least a little cooking on any typical day.

But it does seem to be at least mostly true that no one really ever has to bake.

Baking is an extra ... it's bonus ... it's a special added touch.  It could be something nice to go along with dinner, such as a fresh loaf of bread, dinner rolls, or a dessert.  It could be a batch of brownies we bake for the kids after school, give to a sick friend, or just bake for no reason at all.  Except that there always is a reason ... the reason is love.

You can crack a couple of eggs into a frying pan for breakfast, and call it good.  Going to the additional trouble of whipping up a batch of muffins, a coffeecake, or a pan of cinnamon rolls, makes breakfast extra special.  It's an act of love ... it's something we don't have to do, but something we want to do ... either just for ourselves or for someone else.

Proofing dough, waiting for it to rise, brushing it with an egg wash to make it look beautiful... rolling out pastry, cutting out cookies, assembling a pie … these are acts of love.

It might explain why bakers always seem happier than many professional cooks, too.  Have you noticed that?

Of course, there are the cooks who truly love what they do and are always smiling and pleasant or just downright giddy.  You can tell who they are … these are the chefs who display a sense of glee while putting that finishing touch on their dish or adding that little extra ingredient that sends their dish over-the-top.

Think of Rachael Ray's impish grin when she completes a menu, Anne Burrell's funny quips and self-praise when she's impressed with her own skills, Julia Child's endless enthusiasm for every classic recipe.  It's an absolute delight to watch people who really love what they do!

Then there are the ones who are always frowning, grumpy and yelling.  We'll give Gordon Ramsey a slight pass … he's got multiple businesses to run, a very stressful life, and a larger-than-life persona to live up to ...  besides, I have actually seen him smile many, many times when he's absolutely in love with a dish.  His standards are high, but he takes delight in achievement and perfection.  He truly loves cooking.

But there are those who make you really wonder why they're even in the business of cooking at all.  They're stressed, anxious, resentful, and don't seem to be enjoying themselves even the slightest bit.  When cooking is done without joy, passion or enthusiasm, it is no longer a gift but a burden.  (I'll bet these are the same chefs who never do any baking, either!)

This is where baking comes in again.  I'm sure there are plenty of stressed-out professional bakers out there somewhere (probably ... maybe).  But when we're talking about home bakers … well, again … you just don't have to bake. Pretty much ever.  You can pick up a loaf of bread, a pan of cinnamon rolls, scones, cake, muffins, and cookies at the grocery store.  You can pop into your favorite bakery anytime you want.  So, when you do bake, it's always because you want to.

You don't have to cook, either, but you do have to get something on the table at mealtime.  It's a necessity.  But bake something?  Ah, now that's voluntary and optional.  It is reserved for special times ... a particular occasion or when the inspiration strikes.

You can always run out and buy a birthday cake.  No one will ever judge you.  We created an entire business around people who would come to our store to buy that cake.  But it still doesn't lose it's sense of "extra."  Baking is always something no one has to do.  It's a perk ... a plus ... not a requirement.  It's always something special.

And when a mom or grandma turns on the oven to preheat before baking cookies with a child … now that comes from the heart … now that's love.

Bake some love today!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

.........................................................

Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Romancing Your Life

Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life
Romantic Foods

Something special ...
The Romance of Travel

Falling in love with a new destination, adventure, and vistas
The Lenten Season

A reminder that accepting the challenge of self-discipline is good for the soul
New Year's Resolutions

A list of fun things to look forward to in the year ahead!
Never On The "1st" Date

Laying the groundwork for the success of your goals and resolutions
A Fresh Start

Healthful smoothies to begin the year off right!
Travel Plans

Planning some new sights and scenery in the New Year
How It All Began

The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea
Top Chef - Colorado

A celebrity in the family!
A Tale of Two Bread Puddings

So different, yet both so good!
Salty Sweets

Finishing salts on your dessert
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv.
A Very Foodie Town
It's almost time for Restaurant Week again!
The Problem with Pesto ...

It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
The Icing on the Cake

Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
Baking Cakes

Basic baking tips for beautiful layer cakes
What's Your Favorite Cake?

If only I could pick just one!
Our Current Obsession: French Macarons

Light, airy, delicate pastel puffs of mouth-watering deliciousness
Do-Gooders!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our vets' and soldiers' wellbeing.
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!