Real Welsh Scones — The Modern Baker Challenge

The eighth recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge is Real Welsh Scones. This was a wonderfully simple recipe, and even a sleepyhead like me found it easy to mix these up for breakfast on a Sunday morning.

First, I placed all the dry ingredients in the food processor and added cold butter.

I pulsed the mixture about eight to 10 times, until it resembled a fine powder.

After beating the egg and milk together, I added them to the dry mixture in a bowl and stirred it all together.

I kneaded the dough a few times to incorporate all the flour and mix in the butter pieces. The dough was a little crumbly but held together OK as I divided it into two pieces, patted them into rounds, and scored them with a dough scraper.

I baked the scones in for 12 minutes, the minimum time recommended by the recipe. When I took them out, they looked like this:

I cut into one and found it to be a bit underdone. The scones were nicely browned, and I was worried that if I continued to bake them, they would get overdone on the outside. Since I had already turned off the oven, I put the scones back in and baked them using the residual heat. This is a technique known as baking in a “reducing oven”. Often this is done by preheating the oven to a high temperature, say 500 degrees, then reducing the temperature to 450 or so when you put the bread in the oven. In my case, the oven was turned off, and I baked the scones  for about five more minutes, at which point they were perfectly baked.

The finished scones were delicious. They had a slight sweetness from the sugar, and they were perfect with a little marmalade and a cup of coffee.

This is yet another great recipe from The Modern Baker. I know that all cookbooks have some recipes that are better than others, and even the best of them have a few recipes that not everyone will like. But so far, I have loved everything I’ve made from this book. And so have my family and friends.

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Sunflower Seed Rye – The End of an Era

Sunflower Seed Rye, the 35th bread (out of 43) in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, is also the last in a series of sourdough breads featured in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. If you have read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of sourdough, often adding it to yeast bread recipes and having gone so far as to make a sourdough starter tutorial. Needless to say, I loved this bread. And my wife, who is a sunflower seed fanatic, was pretty fond of it, too.

This bread starts with a soaker of pumpernickel grind rye flour and water. In a departure from many of Peter Reinhart‘s other sourdough recipes, this recipe calls for instant yeast, in addition to the firm starter.

I made the soaker and firm starter the day before making the dough.  The dough was supple, soft and just a tad on the tacky side. Although I’ve had mixed results stirring in fruit, nuts, etc. with the Kitchen Aid dough hook, the sunflower seeds folded in easily and didn’t change the consistency of the dough.

After a 90-minute fermentation, I divided the dough in half and shaped each piece into a couronne, or crown. This is done by making a boule, poking a hole in the middle, stretching it into a giant bagel shape, and finally pressing a dowel (or in my case, the handle of a wooden spoon) into four sides of the dough. I dusted the creases with flour to help keep them from growing shut as the bread proofed.

I proofed the dough for about 90 minutes, until it grew to about 1 1/2 times its original size.

While the dough was proofing, I got the oven ready by putting a roasting pan on the bottom shelf and preheating the oven to 500 dF. I proofed the bread on parchment paper that I had placed on a baking sheet, and when the dough was ready, I put the baking sheet in the oven and poured a cup of boiling water into the roasting pan.

I lowered the heat to 450 and baked the loaves for about 25 minutes, rotating them after 10 minutes. The loaves looked pretty nice when they came out, even though the holes baked closed.

The bread was delicious, with a nice tang from the sourdough, a sweet saltiness from the sunflower seeds, and a robust flavor from the rye — definitely a bread worth making again.