Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Bread Bible: Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones

Lime-Blueberry Flaky SconesThe June recipe for the Bread Bible bake-through is Flaky Scones. These are a rich biscuit dough which is folded several times before cutting to get flaky layers, as in a rough puff pastry dough. The recipe calls for currants, which I didn't have on hand and which probably wouldn't go over well with the raisin-averse folks next door. What I did have was some rather aged dried blueberries, which seemed like a good substitution in terms of size. I plumped those in a bit of hot water to compensate for their long time in the back of the fridge. I had looked at Rose's suggested variation of a lemon poppyseed scone, and decided that adding lime zest with my blueberries would be a nice cross-fertilization of the base recipe and the variation. I made a half recipe--sister-in-law's school term is over, so no need to bake for her classes for teachers.

As is my usual approach these days, I grated frozen butter with a box grater instead of cutting the butter into lumps then rubbing or pressing it into flakes. As someone with warm hands and a generally warmish kitchen, anything I can do to minimize handling pastry dough is to the good. I then put the grated butter back into the freezer to firm back up before incorporating it into the dry ingredients. After tossing the butter and flour mixture together, it looked like the butter pieces were already at a good size for this recipe, so I proceeded to add the heavy cream and mixed to get a dough.

Lime-Blueberry Flaky SconesAfter a bit of hand kneading to get the dry bits incorporated, the dough got turned out onto a lightly floured mat and shaped and rolled into a rectangle. That got folded into thirds, then rolled again, folded, and repeat until the dough had been folded 4 times. At this point it was definitely softening, so I wrapped it up and popped it into the fridge.

After a good chill, I finished getting the dough to about a 12 by 4 inch rectangle, then trimmed the sides (saving the scraps for a misshapen biscuit-like thing), and cut 8 triangles. After calculating the Weight Watchers SmartPoints on those, I now wish I'd gone with smaller ones--these babies come out at 17 or so points each, when my daily allotment is 30. I've already passed most of the batch, frozen and wrapped and with baking instructions, to the niblings next door.

Several days after making and freezing the unbaked scones, I baked one in my toaster oven where it took just about the time recommended for a regular oven without being frozen. (My poor scone had a bit of an accident between oven and cooling rack, developing the fracture you can see in the top picture.) I had a tough time only eating half of it--it's rich and crispy, and the dried blueberries worked well. My nephew and I both agree that the lime zest could be increased--I think I used less than the recommended amount due to measuring difficulties. There's a hint of lime, but we'd like a little more punch from it.

Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones Lime-Blueberry Flaky Scones

BB: Mango Bango Cheesecake

Mango Bango CheesecakeLast summer, faced with life getting busier and looking at an upcoming Baking Bible assignment of the multistage Fourth of July cheesecake (take a look at Marie's), I made the decision to drop out of the fully committed group of Alpha Bakers, although continuing to bake along when time permitted and when the recipe was right for me. However, maybe that upcoming cheesecake that got me looking at another one in the book, the Mango Bango Cheesecake. I baked a half recipe for my birthday cake last summer and left myself (I hope) enough notes to blog it now as the Alpha Bakers are tackling it.

The Mango Bango Cheesecake uses a mix of cream cheese and full-fat Greek yogurt, leading to a softer and lighter result than an all-cream cheese variety. It also uses a sponge cake or ladyfinger base--I saw lady fingers at the supermarket and went with that option instead of baking a genoise.

For the mango, Rose calls for canned mango pulp. That's a semi-regular purchase for me, so I knew the places to look. The large Indian grocery store near me, Patel Brothers, had the brand Rose suggested, sweetened with sugar and not corn syrup. I always have to hunt a bit before remembering that the canned mango at Patel is over in the produce section, not in the canned goods where other canned fruits are. (They always seem to have three or more varieties of canned mango available.) The store is a madhouse on a weekend evening, with its cramped checkout area full of families with carts piled high. I was an outlier with my 3 cans of mango puree.

The cheesecake started with pressing the canned mango pulp through a sieve for extra smoothness, then concentrating most of the puree by a third by cooking it down in the microwave. I prepped the 6" springform pan (for my half-size cheesecake) by lining the bottom with trimmed ladyfingers.

Then came the easy batter. I ground some cardamom seeds with part of the sugar, then then sugar and cream cheese were beaten together, then egg yolks, lime juice, vanilla, and salt. Last to go in was the Greek yogurt and the remaining un-concentrated mango puree.

Mango Bango CheesecakeHalf of the batter went into the pan atop the ladyfinger base, then half of the concentrated mango was dolloped on and swirled a bit, then the batter, dolloping of mango, and swirling repeated. The cheesecake baked in a water bath. It was hard to tell the baking time for the half-recipe as the only guidance on when it's done is that the center should jiggle slightly after it has sat in the oven for an hour after baking. (Don't know what you would do at that point if it was undercooked.) Mine was very liquid at 10 minutes under the full-size cooking time, so I ended up baking it the recommended time for the full recipe. The top browned a bit, but in the end the texture was fine and it was very moist.

Mango Bango CheesecakeThe last touch is another round of mango puree, pushed through sieve, then combined with cornstarch and heated to get a topping. Result: very pretty cheesecake.

Taste test: excellent flavor in the cheesecake, with the mango blobs and topping giving a nice flavor burst. It was very nice with raspberries on the side, probably also would have been wonderful with some of Rose's raspberry sauce. The ladyfinger crust added absolutely nothing but (I guess) some ability to shift the finished cake onto a serving plate--it doesn't disintegrate, but the effect is basically soggy cake. That neutral base is probably the intent, but I'd like to try this cheesecake with a cookie crust for a more interesting texture and taste contrast. I will have to do some research to see if the yogurt in the cheesecake will add so much moisture that even a cookie crust would get soggy.

Bottom line: this is a little more trouble than a one-bowl cheesecake, but worth it. I might skip the pressing through a sieve especially for the mango that goes into the cheesecake body, as I don't think a bit of texture would bother me (and there was very little residue in the sieve anyway). I would like a more interesting crust--I've had this sponge-cake base on several different cheesecakes and found it added nothing every time. Graham cracker would be too jarring in the flavor department, so I would consider other cookie-crumb options.

Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake Mango Bango Cheesecake