Cake Pops

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For any family event my go to dessert is a cake pop. I make 3-4 different kinds, and have mastered the technique over the last 5 years. This recipe is a lot of work and requires patience, but the pay off is worth it. Make these and the number one question you get will be “where did you buy them?”

Buckle down and get ready for the ride, this post is a long one. Clear some freezer space and head to Michael’s with a shopping list in hand.

Supplies

Cake pop sticks
Cake pop treat bags with twist ties
Candy melts, any colour
Foam blocks
An opaque bucket – such as this one, but any canister you want to place the cake pops in for decoration
Optional: ribbon for decoration of canister and/or cake pops

This recipe is going to follow an untraditional format from previous ones. Instead of including the ingredients/directions for the cake, I’ll be providing the assembly instructions. These cake pops can be made with any cake and any frosting. The choices are endless and it is up to you! I’ve made red velvet with cream cheese frosting, green tea cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate cake with espresso frosting, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and even cookie dough.

This recipe is comprised of pictures of many different samples, however the classic favourite in our house is chocolate with espresso frosting. Please note: if you are making cookie dough, try this recipe and don’t include any frosting. Skip straight to rolling out the balls once you’ve prepared the raw dough. A shout out to SA for helping prep these. She helped make these cake pops right after designing our incredible logo.

Ingredients:

1 recipe chocolate cake
1/2 recipe espresso frosting

Directions

1) Prepare cake in a 9×13 pan and allow to cool.

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2) Carefully trim top and sides of cake to remove any “crunchy” exterior

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3) Prepare a 1/2 recipe of frosting

4) Place cake in a large bowl and add 1-2 cups of frosting and mix with your hands (varies depending on moisture level of cake). You want the cake pop to be able to stick together when rolled into a ball. Ensure that you add enough frosting so they don’t crack and crumble.

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5) Scoop a heaping tablespoon of cake from the bowl and roll into an even ball. Repeat until all dough is finished. This picture is from the vanilla cake pops, however the chocolate would look very similar.

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6) Place balls on parchment on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

7) Take balls out of fridge and melt a bowl of candy melts in a bowl (any colour)

8) Dip a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, and then put it into the cake ball. Place the stick into the foam block to support it.

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9) Put the cake pops (with foam blocks) in the freezer for 1-2 hours

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10) Melt more of the candy melts (a full bowl) – can be done on the stove or in the microwave (any colour)

11) Dip the frozen cake pop into the melted chocolate and twist it so it is completely covered. Since the cake is frozen, it will harden quickly. Optional: cover the outside in sprinkles

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12) Place the stick back in the foam block and allow it to harden completely in the freezer.

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13) Optional: You can decorate the cake pops by melting a different colour candy melt. Place a small amount of the candy melt in a ziplock back. Seal it and place it in a large bowl of hot water. Once melted, cut a small tip off the corner and drizzle onto the cake pops.

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14) Once the cake pops are prepared, slide them into the treat bag and close with a twist tie. Optional: Add a ribbon for decoration.

15) Place a foam block in the container (cut to size). Arrange the cake pops into a bouquet in the container. Optional: Add a ribbon to the outside for decoration.

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Congrats! You made it to the end! This recipe is intensive, but a unique one. Give it a shot and it will be worth it.

Science Fact of the Week:

Our science fact of the week has to do with gravity and temperature. These cake pops are very temperamental. If you make them too large, they will be heavy and will fall off the stick. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Let’s just hope it comes down into our stomachs. As well, ensure that you are allowing the cake pops to cool between steps so that the balls and chocolate harden. This will ensure their stability on the sticks.

 

Non-Dairy Snickerdoodle Cookies

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With the official switch from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Peppermint Mochas we thought we should jump on the band wagon. These cookies are simple to make, non-dairy and sure to be a holiday favourite.

Ingredients:

1/2 stick margarine, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F

2) Cream margarine and sugars

3) Add egg and vanilla, beat well

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4) Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt

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5) Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl

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6) Roll dough into balls (1-2 tbsp)and roll in cinnamon mixture

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7) Bake for 10-15 minutes (until cookies crackle, but are still soft)

These cookies are a new holiday favourite! As well, this was my first chance to use my new electric mixer (Thanks Domestic Goddess!)

Science Fact of The Week:

Cinnamon has been used for many years for medicinal purposes. It contains cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate which have been shown to contain numerous health benefits. It has many antioxidants which protect the body from oxidative damage. As well, it is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of heart disease. It may help treat type 2 diabetes by increasing the sensitivity of insulin.

Apple Pie

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Now that the weather is finally starting to get cooler, it’s the perfect time to pick apples (or go to the grocery store and buy them). We picked up some Spy and Cortland apples, both of which are great for baking as they retain their shape and crunch.

This apple pie is a bit of a concoction, and we tested out some cool tricks to make the pie crust flakey. After a couple attempts, it worked perfectly. The secret is the use of apple cider and apple cider vinegar.

This pie is dairy free, and can be vegan if you swap out the egg wash for melted margarine.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

4 cups cake and pastry flour
12 tbsp. apple cider (cold) – Can be purchased at the grocery store. If unavailable you can substitute for ice water.
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup coconut oil

For the Filling:

8 cups of thinly sliced apples (about 8 medium or 6 large)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt

For the Egg Wash:

1 large egg white, lightly beaten – swap for melted margarine to make this recipe vegan.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450˚F.

Combine 1 cup flour, cider and vinegar in a small bowl.

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In a large bowl, combine remaining flour, powdered sugar and salt.

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Add coconut oil and margarine (cut into small pea sized balls). Cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter.

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Add wet ingredients to this mixture.

Divide dough in half and cover each with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

To prepare filling, cut apple into a large bowl and add remaining filling ingredients.

Roll out (on a floured surface) 1 of the divided pie crusts to approx. 1/8 inch thick (large enough so there is overhang off the edge of the pie plate.

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Cut off the excess dough and design the edges however you would like. Here I pinched the edges.

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Put the filling in the pie crust.

Roll out remaining dough and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Weave together to create a lattice. Alternatively you can roll out the dough and place on top. If you choose this method, ensure that you cut holes in the top to let steam escape.

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Brush pie with egg wash (or melted margarine)

Bake at 450˚F for 15 minutes before changing the temperature to 350˚F. Bake for an additional 35-50 minutes (until golden brown)

Feel free to use extra pie dough for design or to make mini pies in ramekins.  For mini pies, change additional baking time to 25-30 mins.

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Enjoy this delicious fall dessert with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Science Fact of the Week:

Our science fact this week relates to the use of different kinds of apples. Three apples that are great for pies are Spy, Cortland or Granny Smith apples. The texture of the apple is the most important. Macintosh are great for eating, but won’t suit the right texture for pie. You want to avoid apples that will get soft.

Matcha Green Tea Scones

As you may remember, I had a bit of a scone obsession this summer. In addition to the earl grey scone, I created another tea infusion using  matcha (green tea).

Similar to the earl grey scones, it is important to work with grated frozen butter. I use the food processor to grate the butter quickly, but it can also be done by hand.

Ingredients:

For the Scones:

2 tbsp. boiling water
2 + 2 tbsp good quality matcha green tea powder (I use David’s tea Vanilla Matcha)
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour (plus extra for counters)
6 tbsp (75g) granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, frozen (I throw it in the freezer ice drawer about 20 mins before I start making the scones, and take it out only when I’m ready to use it)
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream (I use 35% Cooking Cream)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

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For the Glaze

1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or 1/2 of a vanilla bean, seeded)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Mix the boiling water with 2 Tbsp. of green tea using a whisk. Let it sit on the counter to cool down.

Take the other two tbsp. of tea and mix with the next 4 ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl using a whisk.

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In a small bowl, whisk the scant 1/2 cup of heavy cream, vanilla, matcha concentrate and egg.

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Grate the butter (by hand or in the food processor) and add to dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter (or fork) to incorporate. IMG_3436.jpg

Pour wet ingredients over the butter mixture and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Make sure not to over-work the dough.

Flour a work surface to place your dough on. Shape the dough into a long rectangle (as pictured here).

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To cut the scones, look at the instructions with the earl grey scones.

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Bake scones for 12-17 minutes. 15 minutes usually works perfectly for me.

If you want scones on demand, these freeze well (pre-cut) in an air-tight container. Ensure that scones are not touching each other (divide with parchment). They can be stored in freezer for a few weeks before baking. Add two minutes to baking time when baking from frozen.

Allow the scones to cool on wire rack.

Mix ingredients for glaze in separate bowl. Top cooled scones with glaze.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Matcha has some unique properties. It is packed with antioxidants and is said to boost metabolism. It also helps detoxify the body and boosts the immune system. It may also improve cognitive ability and help us complete tasks more efficiently.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Espresso “Buttercream”

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This recipe is an adaptation from Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake.

A good chocolate cake is hard to come by. This one is great as a cake, cupcake, loaf, or cake pop. I’ve been making this chocolate cake recipe for about 10 years.

Feel free to get creative with this cake. Try topping it with fondant, sprinkles or toasted walnuts. This recipe is very adaptable. Swap out the icing for vanilla, chocolate, or any other flavour you can think of. One of my favourites is to make this as a two layer cake with whipped cream and strawberries inside, topped with chocolate frosting.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup almond milk (can swap for skim or soy)
1/2 cup extra light tasting olive oil (can also use canola)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp espresso powder

For the Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) non-dairy margarine, at room temperature
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

Makes 24 cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare two cupcake trays with liners.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

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Add eggs, almond milk, olive oil and vanilla extract and mix well for 1-2 minutes.

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In a small bowl mix boiling water with espresso powder. Allow to sit for a minute before adding to batter.

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Mix slowly. Batter should be thin.

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Bake for 22-25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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While cooling, prepare the whipped espresso frosting

For the Frosting:

In a small bowl, mix the vanilla and espresso powder. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the margarine for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides. With the mixer off, add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing in between to incorporate.

Add the vanilla espresso mixture and continue to mix on medium-high.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Using almond milk allows this recipe to be dairy free, and adds some hidden nutritional value. Almonds are low in fat, and may help maintain a healthy heart and reduce blood pressure.

Oat Fudge Bars

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Have you ever longingly looked at the oat fudge bar in the Starbucks display window, tempted by the fudgy deliciousness?

These copycat Starbucks oat fudge bars will fill that void in your life. Make these and people will think that you stopped at the nearest Starbucks to pick up their entire stock of Oat Fudge bars.

They are great for a crowd, freeze well and are very simple to make. This recipe makes a 9×13 pan, however I multiply everything by 1.5 to fill a larger rimmed baking sheet.

Ingredients:

For the Oat Mixture:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup coconut oil (can replace with another stick of butter)
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups old fashioned oats

For the Fudge:

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (about 1 container)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 pan.

Cream butter (and coconut oil), sugars and eggs in a large bowl

Mix in flour, baking soda and old fashioned oats. Mix well.

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Take 3/4 of the mixture and press down into the pan similar to a crust. Ensure that the oats come up the edge of the pan slightly. This is what gives the fudge bars their delicious oat-ey crust.

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In a saucepan, melt fudge ingredients. Pour sauce over oat crust.

Take remaining 1/4 of oat mixture and “blob” on top.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350˚F.

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Science Fact of the Week:

You may be asking about the use of coconut oil here. Lately I’ve been swapping out half the butter, or half the margarine and using coconut oil instead. Coconut oil contains no trans fats, and is made of up healthier saturated fats (including Lauric acid). Lauric acid may lead to apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, therefore leading to possible health befits.  It may also improve  hepatic (liver) antioxidant status and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Pumpkin Banana Bread

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It’s September. School is back in session, it is no longer appropriate to wear white and Starbucks released the infamous PSL. Rather than a classic pumpkin recipe I thought I would experiment a little.

What do you get when you mix banana bread and pumpkin bread?

MAGIC!

On a hunch, I decided to intertwine the recipes for my favourite banana bread and pumpkin bread. With a few alterations, the creation came out perfectly. Not too heavy on the pumpkin, not too heavy on the banana – it is truly a delicious concoction. When serving it to someone, ask what flavour they think it is. About half have said pumpkin, the other half banana. Their minds are blown when you say both.

The banana bread base is an older recipe that has been altered over the years, however the pumpkin bread part comes from Gimmie Some Oven. Also a delicious fall dessert that I often make.

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Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs + 2 egg whites
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt (I used vanilla greek yogurt, but can also use plain or toffuti sour cream to be non dairy)
1/2 cup milk (can use almond milk to be non-dairy)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

3) In a large bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (dry ingredients). Make sure to break up any large clumps.

FullSizeRender 30.jpg4) In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin and banana well. Add eggs and egg whites, oil, greek yogurt, milk and vanilla extract.

5) Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Use spatula to mix well.

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6) Fill pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.

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This recipe is delicious for a crowd. It makes a 9×13 cake. Cut recipe in half to make a loaf cake and reduce the baking time by 10 minutes. It freezes well. Also works well with frosting (I’m partial to cream cheese frosting), but make frosting after defrosting the cake.

Science Fact of the Week:

Pumpkin is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is high in potassium, which may help lower blood pressure. It is also rich in beta-carotene and carotenoids, which, as antioxidants, may protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Earl Grey Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla “Buttercream”

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Building on my last post, I’ve been on a little bit of a tea-kick. David’s Tea Cream of Earl Grey is one of my favourites, and incorporating it into some of my favourite recipes has been a unique challenge. I modified my vanilla cupcake recipe I’ve been using for nearly 10 years to add the strong earl grey flavour, giving these cupcakes a unique depth.

It took a few tries until this experiment was a success! After all, this is why we chose to call this blog The Science of Baking.

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1/2 cup earl grey concentrate (2-3 tbsp. earl grey tea and 1/2 cup boiling water)
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) nondairy margarine, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 eggs
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) nondairy margarine (softened)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

1) Steep Earl Grey tea (in filter) with 1/2 cup boiling water. Allow to cool
2) Add the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined (about a minute).
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3) Add margarine, a few cubes at a time until mixture resembles coarse sand.
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4) Add eggs one at a time
5) Slowly pour in almond milk, vanilla and earl grey concentrate. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth (works best with a mixer), scraping sides of bowl as needed.
6) Fill liners 2/3 full (about 1/4 cup batter) and bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are golden brown and centre is set.
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Allow to cool completely before frosting.
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7) Make the Frosting: Cream margarine. Add vanilla and gradually add sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add almond milk and beat until fluffy. If desired, add food colouring.FullSizeRender 26.jpg
Makes 24 cupcakes. These freeze well unfrosted in a ziploc style bag. As well, the batter can be made in a 9 x 13 sheet pan (bake for 35-45 mins) or 9-inch circular pans (bake 25-35 mins) to make a cake.

Science Fact of the Week:

Similar to our friends the blueberries, Pure Vanilla Extract is rich in anti-oxidants such as vanillin. Using imitation vanilla decreases the anti-oxidant quantity, and therefore decreases potential health benefits. Vanilla has been shown to be anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory,and anti-bacterial. As a result, it may reduce one’s risk of certain cancers. 

Earl Grey Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Now it’s my turn to give this a shot.
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This summer I developed a bit of a scone addiction. It began when a colleague of mine suggested I try the scones at the coffee shop around the corner from work. Within a week I had tried nearly every flavour. Favourites included Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Espresso and Maple Oat. My colleagues even teased me because the scone would disappear before I even walked into the building door.

Naturally, as the curious person I am, I started looking up recipes. After trying a few others, I settled on The Blueberry Lemon Scone from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Based on some helpful suggestions from friends and a couple of my own ideas, I tweaked this recipe slightly, but I’ll save those hints for a future post.

Outside of The Science of Baking Laboratory, I’ve spent my summer working in an actual research facility. Once a week we have a team lab meeting, and I or my father has baked for every single meeting. I’ve used my lab as test subjects for each of my scone recipes (I don’t think they are complaining). The original blueberry lemon recipe inspired me to create different flavour combinations, and I now prepare a bowl of each flavour following the base of the initial recipe. Today’s post is a delicious Earl Grey Scone that pairs nicely with a cup of coffee.

As noted in the original recipe, working with frozen butter is what makes these scones what they are. I use a food processor to grate the butter, and a pastry cutter to incorporate it. If you don’t happen to have these tools, the butter can be grated by hand, and a fork is a great substitute for a pastry cutter. I also choose to weigh the ingredients to ensure precise amounts, but again, if you don’t have a scale, standard measuring tools will be sufficient. My scone addiction has prompted me to expand my university kitchen (I now own my own food processor – Thanks Mom!). Next up, an electric mixer!

Ingredients:

For the Scones:

2 + 2 tbsp. Earl Grey Tea (I use David’s Tea Cream of Earl Grey)
3 tbsp. boiling water
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour (plus extra for counters)
6 tbsp. (75g) granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, frozen (I throw it in the freezer ice drawer about 20 mins before I start making the scones, and take it out only when I’m ready to use it)
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream (I use 35% Cooking Cream)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the Glaze:

1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 1/2 of a vanilla bean, seeded)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

First, mix the boiling water with 2 Tbsp. of earl grey tea leaves. Alternatively, you can use two earl grey tea bags. Let it sit on the counter to cool down. This is the earl grey concentrate that gives the scones a strong earl grey flavour.

Next, take the other two tbsp. of tea leaves and grind them to a fine texture (I use a single-serve blender similar to the magic bullet). I grind them until they about the size of a sugar granule. If you are using tea bags, this isn’t necessary.

Mix the tea with the next 4 ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl.
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In a small bowl, whisk the scant 1/2 cup of heavy cream, vanilla, earl grey concentrate and egg.
FullSizeRender 7.jpgGrate the butter (by hand or in the food processor) and add to dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter (or fork) to incorporate. (Please note: this picture is from the blueberry scone recipe – normally you would be able to see the small tea granules similar to the photo above)FullSizeRender 8.jpg Pour wet ingredients over the butter mixture and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Make sure not to over-work the dough.
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Flour a work surface to place your dough on. Shape the dough into a long rectangle (as pictured here).FullSizeRender 10.jpg

To cut the scones:

  1. Cut vertically down the middle (creates two pieces)
  2. Cut each half in the middle vertically as well (creates four pieces)
  3. Cut horizontally down the middle (creates 8 pieces)
  4. Cut each of these pieces diagonally (creates a total of 16 scones)

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Bake scones for 12-17 minutes. 15 minutes usually works perfectly for me.

If you want scones on demand, these freeze well (pre-cut) in an air-tight container. Ensure that scones are not touching each other (divide with parchment). They can be stored in freezer for a few weeks before baking. Add two minutes to baking time when baking from frozen.

I’ve now prepared extras to keep in the freezer, and just take a single scone out to bake in the toaster oven when I’m craving it. In the toaster oven I’ve found they need about 13 minutes from frozen (but I’m skeptical that we have an aggressive toaster oven).

Allow the scones to cool on wire rack.

Mix ingredients for glaze in separate bowl. Top cooled scones with glaze.
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Matcha green tea scones (on the right) coming soon!

Science Fact of the Week:

Earl grey is a black tea synthesized from Camellia sinesis. Black tea contains polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have been associated with prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease). Although this isn’t the usual delivery vehicle for tea, you can easily pair these scones with a warm cup of earl grey tea to enhance the health benefits.