Delicious buttermilk scones with cranberries

Baked buttermilk scones with cranberries

It had been very warm for the past few days. Thankfully, it rained this morning and the air is so much cooler now. I felt the need for a warm buttermilk scone and a cup of coffee to enjoy a lovely, cool Saturday afternoon like this. However, there won’t be any scone for me.

Because hubby is away in Amsterdam for a week, I am staying over at my parents’ place till hubby returns. Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t bake. So, there is no oven in this house. No oven. No baking. No buttermilk scones. Sad.

Delicious buttermilk scones

Speaking of scones, I don’t really eat them often. However, among all the scones I have tasted so far, my favourite ones are from the Smokehouse Hotel & Restaurant in Cameron Highlands. Served with cream and jam, their scones have a buttery flavour rich enough for my taste. The texture of their scones is flaky yet moist. Savouring those scones in a colourful garden of an English-style cottage, sipping a cup of hot English tea, and breathing in the freshness of highland air – isn’t that one of the best moments in life? πŸ˜€ (I am an easily satisfied person, you see.)

I am really glad that I found this buttermilk scone recipe from the Internet. I don’t know if it is the best scone recipe, but I think I can keep to this recipe for use in the future. I made a batch of it two weeks ago, and I was very delighted to see that my scones raised well and had that characteristic crack at the center around the edge. I had tried another recipe and method from my pastry school, but the scones didn’t turn out the way I like (although they were tasty, too).

Buttermilk scones - before baking

Making scones is super easy. Simple recipe ingredients, simple steps. You may choose to use a pastry blender or a food processor to ‘cut’ the butter into the flour to achieve a breadcrumb-like or sand-like texture. A standing mixer (using a paddle attachment) can also do the job. I choose to use my fingers, hehe, to save myself the trouble of cleaning up the mixer bowl and attachment. πŸ˜›

Note that the butter should be cold, and should be cut into small pieces before added to the flour. Using cold butter and mixing it with flour using this rubbing in method is the key to create the flaky layers in the scones. This article explains a bit on using butter and dry ingredients (e.g. flour).

Ingredients
Self-raising flour 225g, plus a little extra for dusting
Salt A pinch
Butter, cold 75g
Castor sugar 40g
Dried cranberries 20 g (that’s all I had in the fridge that day)
Large egg, at room temperature 1
Buttermilk 2 Tbsp, plus a little extra for brushing

Method
1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees celcius.
2. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
3. Add cold butter (already cut into pieces) and use pastry blender to cut the butter in the flour, or use fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
4. Add sugar and dried cranberries (and/or other dried fruits/nuts of choice e.g. raisins, chopped almonds). Mix well.
5. Beat the egg and buttermilk together in a cup or bowl, and add into the dry mixture. Mix the dough with a spreading knife or spatula (again, I used hand). If the dough is a bit dry, can add another tablespoon of buttermilk. I found mine rather sticky, but manageable.
6. Form the dough into a round ball, and place it on a lightly floured surface.
7. Pat the dough into a circle of at least 1 inch thick.
8. Cut out the scones using a 2.5 inch (or 2 inch, or bigger as you wish) round or fluted cookie cutter. (Note: When cutting the dough, place the cutter on the dough and give it a sharp tap, lift up the cutter straight up, and push the dough out. DO NOT twist the cutter, or else it will not rise.)
9. Gather the trimmings together, repeat Step 6 to 8 until the dough is finished.
10. Place scones on parchment paper in a baking sheet. Brush the surface lightly with buttermilk and dust with a little flour.
11. Bake for ~12 min or until golden brown on top.

(Original recipe and method from Craft Passion.)

Buttermilk scones recipe - before baking

From the recipe and using a 2.5 inch round cutter, I made seven scones with different heights, haha! As you can see, the scone will rise to a nicer height if its dough is 1-inch high. The taller ones look more attractive, don’t they? :)

Baked buttermilk scones with cranberries

Some people may insist to have their scones with clotted cream and jam, but I’m contented with just a warm scone and butter. <3

Delicious cranberries buttermilk scones

Buttercream birthday cake with Doraemon face

Doraemon birthday cake

Since I took up a part-time baking and pastry program and another few single sessions of cake decorating class, I have been experimenting with decorating cakes and cupcakes with fondant and buttercream. I have made a red velvet cake decorated with fondant snowman and Christmas tree. I have also baked cupcakes and topped them with buttercream. My first ever buttercream cake challenge was thrown to me by my sister – that was to make a buttercream birthday cake for my niece (in February) to bring to her kindy and share with friends. And, the cake should feature her favourite character, which is Doraemon. πŸ˜€

This is the one and only full buttercream cake I have done till today! What I can say about decorating cakes with buttercream like this one is not complicated at all. The tools are simple, the technique is easy. However, it does require a lot of patience; from preparing and colouring the buttercream, to piping each drop of cream, and to cleaning up the greasy mess after the masterpiece is completed. Haha!

Buttercream birthday cake with Doraemon face

There is of course some preliminary work to do before I actually got down to decorate the cake. The very first step to making a buttercream cake with the face of a cartoon character (or whatever designs that you’re going to put on top) is to do a quick research on the Internet to find a suitable design or pattern that fits the shape of the cake.

Many people have made Doraeon buttercream cakes, so it made my work easy. I found some Doraemon faces that I like, and showed them to my sister for her to choose. At the end, I actually combined the design from different cakes, i.e. Doraemon’s eyes from design #1, his mouth from design #2, and his bell collar from design #3. πŸ˜›

I then drew the outline of the face onto a parchment paper (can also use tracing paper). I would later use the ‘piping gel transfer’ method to transfer the design onto the cake. Since my cake is round and it doesn’t matter which side Doraemon’s tongue is sticking out from, my job was made easy. If you are designing a cake with a specific orientation (e.g. certain designs/patterns have to be on certain side or direction), then you have to take that into consideration when drafting your design on the paper.

(You may like to check out this simple explanation on transferring patterns to cake, or learn icing pattern transfer from the video at the end of this post.)

The next step was to bake the cake. I used a sponge cake for this one. Considering that kids (all below 7 yo ) would be eating this cake, a light sponge cake would be more appropriate. But other types of cake (e.g. chocolate cake, butter cake) can be used, too. I followed a sponge cake recipe from Aunty Yochana. After the cake was baked and cooled down, I kept it in the fridge overnight. I sliced the cake into two layers the next day for frosting and decorating.

Doraemon birthday cake

For the buttercream, I used this following recipe, which I got from one of the cake decorating classes.

Buttercream recipe
Unsalted butter, softenedΒ Β Β  1 block (~227 g)
Krimwell shortening ~227 g (always in equal ratio with butter)
Icing sugar, sifted ~600 g
Vanilla essence 2 teaspoons
Salt A pinch
Cocoa powder 2-3 tablespoons (for filling between two layers)

Method

Beat butter and Krimwell in the mixer till smooth. Add icing sugar slowly and continue to mix on low speed. After all sugar has been added, increase mixer speed to medium and beat mixture until creamy. Add in salt and vanilla essence. This is the plain vanilla buttercream for frosting and decorating. For the filling inside, I took out a small portion of the plain buttercream, added to it 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and mixed the cream well with a spatula. I figured that kids would like something chocolate flavour in the cake. πŸ˜‰

The next step is to prepare the coloured buttercream. The buttercream had a light tint of yellow due to the butter (which is yellow) used. It would have been much yellowish if I had used purely butter without the shortening. I prepared large portions of the white and blue buttercream, and small portions of black, red and yellow. I used soft gel paste food colour from AmeriColor.

To fill the cake, I spread the chocolate buttercream on top of a layer of sponge cake, and then place the second layer on top, pressing down lightly to make sure that the cream was properly ‘sandwiched’ between the two layers of sponge cake. I scraped off excess cream that oozed out at the side. I put the cake back into the fridge to let the filling set.

After 15 minutes, I took out the cake and started crumb-coating it. I applied a thin layer of the white buttercream on the top and around the side of the cake, then put it into the fridge for about 15 min again to let it set.

I applied buttercream to the side of the cake again, as I need it to be slightly thick so that I could make lines around the cake using a fine tooth scraper. I did not add on buttercream on the top of the cake, because the cake would be later cover with buttercream design anyway. Now, I transferred the outline of Doraemon face onto the cake.

Doraemon buttercream cake

The outline (from the piping gel) transferred onto the buttercream-coated cake was not clear; it meant to be just a guide. So I drew on top of the outline with black buttercream (piped using tip #2 or 3, I couldn’t remember) to enhance the lines that defined the different areas of the face.

After this, everything was easy. I just filled up Doraemon’s face with the corresponding colour of buttercream, using an open star tip #21 and a drop flower tip #24 (see below). As I have only one of each tip, but have different colours of buttercream to pipe, so I used couplers to allow the switching of tips from one piping bag to another. You can always experiment with other types of piping tips.

Piping tips and couplers

At any point of time, when I felt that the buttercream in the piping bag was getting too soft and runny, I would put it into the fridge for a while to harden it up a bit. When the buttercream is too soft, it won’t hold its shape very nicely when piped out from the bag.

After the decoration was completed, I kept the cake in the fridge till the time to be collected. My sister was pleased with the buttercream decorations, as she admitted herself that she would not in a hundred years have the patience to do it. More importantly, the kiddo said the cake was nice, and there was no complain from other kids. πŸ˜›

Want some egg-free cookies?

Eggless cookies2

I’m back! I mean, I just came back last week from a holiday in Switzerland! It was relaxing (except for having to rush from platform to platform to catch intercity trains with our huge wheeled luggage and hand-carry bags) and refreshing; a ‘fresh’ break indeed, far away from the hot weather and polluter air here in KL! πŸ˜›

But, more about the trip later. For now, I just want to quickly post a very simple cookies recipe that I learned in my part-time pastry class. I love this recipe and have made it a couple of times. It’s very basic but straightforwardly delicious! πŸ˜›

The recipe calls for only fewΒ  basic ingredients and is easy to make. The best part is, it is an egg-free cookie recipe, so people who are allergic to eggs can enjoy these cookies as much as they want. πŸ˜‰

Eggless cookies1

The pastry chef called them Diamond cookies. As the cookie dough is first rolled into a long sausage shape and chilled/frozen. The hardened dough will then be coated with crystal sugar before it is sliced into round-shaped pieces. After baking, the sugar around the edge of the coin-shaped cookies will give a ‘bling-bling’ effect, hence the name Diamond cookies.

In my case, I’m doing it another way, as I like my cookies in different shapes and appearance. I will describe it below. So here’s the egg-free cookie recipe. Enjoy!

Eggless cookies2

Ingredients
All-purpose flour, sifted — 425 g
Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, keep cold — 280 g
Salt — 3 g
Icing (powdered) sugar — 125 g
Sugar or almond flakes for topping (optional)
Egg white for brushing

Method
1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees C.
2. Mix the butter cubes in flour and salt until the texture of the mixture becomes like sand. You can do this step using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Or, like me, I’m lazy to wash the mixer, so I will just use my fingers to pinch and mash the butter together with the flour until the desired texture is achieved. It feels like sand, but moist. This is called the ‘rub-in’ method. It can be tough on the fingers, mind you!
3. Add icing sugar; mix just enough to combine and to form a dough.
4. Take half the portion of the dough and place between two parchment papers, and roll the dough to a thickness of 5-6 mm. Repeat the same with the remaining half of the dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour.
5. Remove dough from fridge. Using your favourite cookie cutters, cut out the shapes and place them on a baking sheet, with some distance apart between each other,
6. You can bake the cookies straight ahead at 170 degrees C for 12-15 min, or when the edges of the cookies becomes golden brown. If you like to have toppings on the cookies, brush some egg whites on the cookies, then sprinkle with sugar (I used coarse sugar) or almond flakes to your preference, then bake them as per temperature and time.
7. Remove the cookies from the oven. Let the cookies cool in the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool down completely.

Eggless cookies3

Note: As you are cutting out the cookies, the dough can become soft and sticky quite fast. That makes it difficult to cut and remove the cookie. Put the dough back into the fridge and continue later when the dough is firm again. Keep cutting/chilling until all the dough is finished.

I think I had made at least 80 pieces of cookies out of this recipe. It’s yummy and you can have some fun with it, such as sprinkle them with coloured sugar for a more jovial cookie-eating experience? πŸ˜€