Sunday, February 7, 2010

Birthday Brunch and hubris

I've been having birthday dinners with two close friends three times a year for probably 25 years. H has a lovely early summer birthday, so we've been to lots of outdoor cafes like the wonderful Lula Cafe in Logan Square, and the prosaic but vibrant Park Grill (the cheap side, anyway). C's birthday is in the fall, making for nice walks and cozy dinners in the restaurant haven of Oak Park. June and October are lovely months for driving, or riding the L or your bike to a new spot in the city to check out.

My birthday, mid January, requires a bit more commitment. We planned to go see the new wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, but poverty and cold forced us to scale back. So C, H, and our four-footed friend Skye came over to my house instead. I promised not to make them watch figure skating (I have been known to do that).

I've got a new recipe for vegetarian barley soup (coming soon in a post near you), and I thought I would try the olive-oil rosemary hard rolls recipe that a friend sent me. Mind you, vasilopita and cranberry cheese bread notwithstanding, I'm not much of a baker. "But I'm a recipe blogger!" thinks I to myself, thinks I. "I'll test this recipe and blog it!"

Three, yes, three failed bread attempts later, C voted for scones instead of bread.

Apple cider scones
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • >1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup + 1 T sour cream
For glaze:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cider
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it has the consistency of corn meal. Mix together cider and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended. (Overworking the dough results in terrible scones!)
Press gently with your fingers or a pastry roller into a pancake about 12" across and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Let them rest for about 10 minutes.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown, not deep brown. Serve warm with friends, plus goat cheese, jam or butter. (The jam in the picture is a homemade plum compote. Let me know in the comments if you want the recipe!)

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