Friday, March 30, 2012

Cranberry Orange Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones
Having an English boyfriend makes for some interesting debates on what food should or shouldn't be (and how it should or shouldn't be pronounced).   English scones (pronounced sc-ON) are more like American southern style biscuits.  They aren't sweet; but, they're generally eaten with dollops of clotted cream and jam.  I imagine the final outcome to be quite similar to a traditional strawberry shortcake:
Meanwhile, the English use the word biscuit to describe, well everything:
Cookies are biscuits.

Dog kibble is biscuits.

Crackers are biscuits.

Drugs are biscuits.

I'm pretty sure everything is a biscuit.  Except for cake.  Everything else is cake.
Brownies are cake.

Cake is cake.

Pudding is cake.

Although sometimes pudding is bread.

And pudding is cake.

Pudding is also meat.  Gross.

Got it?  Good.
That's enough culture.  Back to America and these beautiful sc-OH-ns.  I found this recipe here: and easily converted it to vegan.  These scones were not too sweet, had a moist texture inside, and a slightly crunchy outside.  This will be my new base for scones as they can easily be modified by adding different fruits and spices.
Orange Cranberry Scones
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt ---> DO NOT MEASURE YOUR INGREDIENTS OVER THE BOWL.  I can say with sheepish certainty that salty scones are not very satisfying.

5 tablespoons chilled earth balance

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup soy cream
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt  into large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.
3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in earth balance until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger margarine lumps. Stir in chopped cranberries and orange zest. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add cranberries and orange zest and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.
4. Stir in soy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with a knife or bench scraper
6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sunny Orange Layer Cake

The dreary fog has descended and the rain has commenced in our busy little city by the bay.  To keep spirits up and bring a little colour into our soggy lives, I decided to bake a much needed orange cake.  I know, it's not included in the "can eat" section of our diet; but, we needed to prevent scurvy somehow.  It's cake for survival, mates!
I got delightful results from converting a recipe I found on
Here is my own vegan version of the recipe by Ris Lacoste:
Sunny Orange Layer Cake

For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges), without pulp
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbs. earth balance

For the cake:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup earth balance
1/3 cup unhydrogenated vegetable shortening
2 tsp. grated orange zest (from about 1 large orange)
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp Energ Egg Re-placer + 8 Tbs hot water + 1 Tbs vegetable oil (whisked until powder is incorporated)
1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges), without pulp

For the frosting:
6 oz. (12 Tbs. ) Earth Balance at room temperature
4-1/2 cups (about 18 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
Dash salt
1 tsp. grated orange zest
5 Tbs. fresh orange juice

For the garnish:
1 or 2 small oranges, sliced thinly, slices cut halfway through on one side, laid on paper towels to drain
7 or 8 sprigs fresh mint (pick pairs of leaves)

In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar, flour, xanthan gum.  Pour in the orange juice and whisk vigorously to combine.  Place pan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until boiling.  Once mixture begins to boil, continue to whisk as mixture thickens for about one minute.  Remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 round  9" x 1 1/2" cake pans.
I recently learned a useful trick for removing cake from pans.  Trace the pan bottom onto parchment paper and cut out the rounds.  Place them in the bottom of the pan.  You don't need to grease them, and the cake will dump out beautifully when it's finished baking.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl,  (or kitchen mixer) cream the earth balance, shortening, and zest.  Gradually add the sugar.  Cream until light and fluffy.  Add the egg re-placer mixture and mix well.  Alternate between adding orange juice and flour mixture until all is well incorporated.  Don't over mix.  Batter will be very thick.  Pour into prepared pans.  It will seem like it's not enough batter, but remember this is a layer cake.  Pick up the pans and drop them on the counter to remove trapped air bubbles.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.  It doesn't get very golden on top, and that's okay.
Cream all ingredients except orange juice with an electric mixer.  Add the orange juice slowly until desired thickness is achieved.  Careful- too much orange juice will make the frosting separate a little and give it a slightly curdled look- DO NOT WANT!
Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Then flip out onto wire cooling racks.  Allow cakes to cool upside-down on the racks to help flatten them and make them look better when stacked.
If you are impatient: Once cakes are cool, flip one over onto a cake stand or plate.  Spread the filling on top of the cake.  Carefully place second layer on top.  Spread cake with a very thin layer of frosting.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Frost the rest of the cake.  Garnish with orange slices and mint leaves.
Alternately: Once cakes are MOSTLY cool, flip one over onto a cake stand or plate.  Spread the filling on top of the cake.  Carefully place second layer on top.  Stick the cake in the fridge.  Go watch an episode of whichever British telly series you're currently in the middle of and enjoy a smallish glass of wine.  When the episode has finished, frost the cake- first smooth over a thin layer to lock in the crumbs, then cover the cake with the rest of the frosting.  Garnish with orange slices and mint leaves.

Tip: If you don't want to waste the orange peels, candy them!  It's easy to do (although slightly time-consuming).