The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery- Scones (Plain and Cinnamon Honey)

This week in my Bouchon Bakery challenge I skipped from the cookie chapter to the Scones and Muffins chapter. When I took a look at the first recipe I danced a little jig. Score! A plain scone. I’ve made scones before and even though a couple of ingredients were new to me I thought this was a recipe I could handle.

I made up my grocery list and headed off to the store. The Plain Scone recipe called for Creme Fraiche and I headed to the dairy department not knowing exactly what it was but knew it was a dairy. LOL. I looked by the sour cream…nope, by the heavy cream….nope, by the cream cheese….nope. Then I re-looked in all of those places again! Finally I found someone who worked there and they pointed me to the gourmet cheese section. Huh! This was the brand available at Kroger but I’m sure there are many more.

Now that I had the ingredients I was ready to bake! I got out my brand new scale, started to measure and realized I did not purchase a scale that went down to a .10. The scale rounds up on the number. How did I do that again? Aargh. Oh well, I need to suck it up and just carefully estimate any measurements. The measuring commenced!

When I put it all in my KitchenAid mixer to blend in the butter I paid special attention to how long they said it would take for the butter to mix in. Low and behold, the timing works! At 3 minutes the butter was incorporated without me having to blend in any chunks by hand. Note to self…when the recipe calls for the mixer to mix for a certain amount of time, that number is pretty spot on. Usually I don’t have the patience to wait three minutes for something to mix, give up and stop a lot earlier. Hmm. Patience. Not something I can purchase, but maybe something I can learn. I got out my cell phone and turned on the stopwatch function determined to start timing everything.

At this point I met my challenge.

When I read the prologue of this cookbook it says to read the instructions of your recipe all the way through before you start baking. That way you’ll know what to do and at what time to do it. Repeat. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. This way, you don’t leave things out, or miss why you are mixing something at a certain time. For example when it says to pour the cream into the dry mixture, and I’m doing that, I should read further to incorporate the Creme Fraiche at that time as well. Yeah, I waited a little too long. I think I over mixed the scones a bit and because I added that Creme Fraiche a little late, the dough is slightly wet.

Oh well, it’s too late to change the recipe and I’m moving on to the next item. Cooling my dough. Funny enough, this recipe requires more time for refrigerating and freezing than it does in actually mixing the ingredients together. For someone like me who likes instant gratification, this stop and start routine was tough! I patted the dough into the expected large rectangle, put it in the fridge and waited two hours.

After the two hour cool down I try my hand at cutting the dough into individual scones. Looking at the photo, you can see I am triangularly challenged. They may not all be the same size but they will all taste alike! Next, they go into the freezer for at least 2 more hours. Start and stop. I wish they’d tell you why? I can only guess. Maybe because this is a restaurant cookbook they make these individually to sell or is it that the freezing process does something to the butter so that it cooks better and maybe holds its shape? Who knows! I will say that not having to cook every single scone is pretty handy. So I didn’t. LOL.

Other than challenging my patience this scone recipe was pretty easy! In addition to the plain scone recipe I noticed another which used the same Plain Scone recipe but added in a honey cinnamon paste to the dough, so I whipped up those as well and actually did better with the dough the second time around.

The Cinnamon honey cubes were made from a combination of flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and honey. You freeze the mixture and then cut it into little cubes to add into the dough. Other than my cubes maybe being a little too large the end result was a success!

I’ll admit that the first one with the whipped cream and strawberry jam looks a lot better than the second, but my second attempt at that mix actually had the scone rise a little bit more and it was tasty too!

This week I knocked out two recipe’s in one day of baking. Now, I’m not going to get a big head because I pretty much plowed through these scone recipe’s. There are bigger challenges ahead!

Until next time!

Deb

The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When I challenged myself to bake every recipe in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook I fully expected to learn some new things. After all, that’s kind of the point to this whole thing, right? When I turned the page on the first chapter titled cookies and saw Oatmeal Raisin, I figured I had this one in the bag. After all, I’ve made oatmeal raisin cookies dozens of times! Surely I could follow this recipe and conquer Keller’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Well….

I borrowed my sister’s food scale. Thank god we had one in the house because I kind of forgot about needing a scale when I was looking over the ingredients and buying stuff from the store. The scale was in working order, but it didn’t take things down to the .10 degree. It rounded up. I thought to myself, ok, here’s the first challenge. Even though the teaspoon, cup, etc. measurement is right next to the grams, I really wanted to tackle the skill of measuring and bake exactly as it was intended when following the recipe. As I measure my flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt into the bowl I try to put in just enough to get a .5 gram and I realize that the scale has a couple of blips. Sometimes it doesn’t measure the weight properly. I tried to adjust accordingly but wrote myself a note. BUY A NEW SCALE.

Measuring out the dry goods.

This is also where I accepted the next challenge. When reading the recipe I saw that it called for Kosher salt. I could’ve sworn I had kosher salt in the house, but alas, I did not. I did have Mediterranean Sea Salt.

Mediterranean Sea Salt is NOT the same as Kosher salt.

It’s coarse like kosher salt, so I figured why not? What I didn’t take into account is that first, again, the scale wasn’t working properly, and second, sea salt is a LOT more salty than kosher salt. So, I overdosed the cookies. Not to a drastic uneatable degree, but they are definitely a tad salty.

When I got to the creaming of the butter and sugar I saw the words “Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed (see Pommade, page 190)”. Pommade? Warm the bowl? What’s this all about? I turned the page to 190 and read about how if you warm the mixer bowl with the butter in it, over an open flame, like on your stovetop, when you beat it, the butter will turn into the consistency of mayonnaise. This process is called Pommade. More excited at the process of turning butter into a mayo like cream, I flipped on the gas burner and lightly warmed the bowl. I should mention that I was working with a glass mixing bowl so was able to control the temperature. I put the bowl back onto the mixer and beat the butter. Low and behold, it worked! I was so excited, I dragged my sister into the kitchen to show her and got a raised eyebrow of praise. I then added in the two sugars and turned on my stopwatch app to cream them for 3 to 4 minutes until nice and fluffy. Along with measuring on a scale, I was also determined to pay more attention to the timing of the mixing process. This seemed to work well because I got a cloud like sugar butter mixture that I’d never seen before! I, of course, forgot to take a picture of it. But, lucky you, I did take a very blurry picture of the mayo like butter below.

Butter in a mayo consistency. Picture blurred by my excitement that it actually worked.

When I was prepping for baking I tried to find vanilla bean paste at my local Kroger and needless to say, was not successful. I picked up a jar of actual vanilla beans instead. When I got to this point in the recipe where I’d add in the eggs and vanilla I saw I’d need 7.7 grams or 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste and saw my maybe 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla scrapings wasn’t going to get me there. Google is my best friend and I got on my phone for help. I found this great article from kitchn.com. https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-vanilla-extract-vanilla-bean-vanilla-paste-169336 It was very helpful in giving me the differences between all of the vanilla types but it was also too little too late. Deciding a mixture of two would be better than none, I scooped in my vanilla bean goop (pulp?) into the bowl and then added in 1 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can’t have too much vanilla, right? Note: buy VANILLA PASTE. Who knows how many more recipe’s in this book will call for it, right?

I add in my dry ingredients, oats, and raisins and mix them all in my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer. If you don’t have one, go out and buy a mixer. I only use mine for baking but you can make pasta, grind meat, and so much more. They are awesome and except for the fact they are heavier than a, well, I don’t know what, but they are danged heavy! AND they are wonderful.

With the exception of being just a touch too salty, I could already tell this was going to be a great cookie. The batter was fluffier than any oatmeal raisin cookie that I’d baked previously. Excited, I measured out each cookie with a scoop and baked. Again, using my trusty stopwatch on my phone.

C’est Voila! They looked truly delicious! Not sure why my cookies turned out so much darker than the Bouchon Bakery picture maybe it was my high quality cinnamon, but otherwise looked identical. I’d only messed up a couple of times but learned a LOT!

Bouchon’s on the left, The Reading Chick’s on the right.

What I learned: 1) You really need a good scale. 2) Pommade! 3) The type of salt does matter. 4) Vanilla comes in all shapes and sizes but they don’t all measure in the same increments.

Purchase list: 1) Scale 2) Vanilla paste

Would I make this again? YES. I think my mom would cry if she couldn’t lick the mixing blade clean. Seriously, I had to lightly tap her hand with my spatula. LOL

Next week I jump to the Scone and Muffin chapter so I hope you’ll come back for the next dish!

Deb

To find the recipe for the above Oatmeal Raisin Cookies check out the book Thomas Keller | Bouchon Bakery at your local library or click this link to purchase the cookbook.* Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Introduction

It’s no secret that I love to read, after all my blog is called The Reading Chick. However, I also have another love, and that is baking. I also like to cook, but I LOVE to bake. For every holiday you can find me in the kitchen trying out a recipe that I’ve found on Pinterest. All of those pictures are colorful and make everything look so good that Pinterest has stolen away my attention from some cookbooks that I own but have never used.

I have been mulling over an idea to combine this love of reading with my love for baking. I am going to stretch my mind and my baking skills by taking on a cookbook that just may be beyond my skills. But the pictures are gorgeous and the bakery the cookbook comes from is quite famous. My challenge to myself is to bake a recipe a week and write about my success and failures on my blog, The Reading Chick, but these posts will be called The Reading Chick also Bakes with that weeks choice of recipe.

The cookbook that I will be tackling is…

Thomas Keller | Bouchon Bakery came out in 2012 and that year it was on all of the bestseller lists. I asked for it for Christmas and my sister very nicely gave it to me. I eagerly opened the book and very quickly deflated because the recipe’s called for me to measure ingredients using a scale and use some items I didn’t own in my own kitchen. I looked at all the pictures and quietly put it back on my shelf with all of my other cookbooks where it has sat gathering dust.

In the years since, I’ve been baking more and expanding my horizons, this past Christmas I actually baked a cake by measuring out the ingredients on a scale and my family declared it the best cake I’d ever baked. After that success I took this cookbook back off my shelf and cracked open the pages. I read the recommendation and reasons why you get better results by measuring. “When you measure by volume, the weight of an ingredient can differ each time.”* Meaning it doesn’t matter if you spooned the flour, packed it into the cup a little too much, etc. A gram is a gram. Maybe this was why my cake was so good this year? That aha! moment took away a little of the scariness in doing something that I had never done before and the idea for cooking one recipe a week and blogging about it was born.

I know this is not a new concept. There are bloggers who’ve become quite renowned for cooking all of the recipe’s in a cookbook. Even have had a movie made from one blogger’s experience in Julie and Julia, but I’m going into this to better my own skills, talk about what was challenging, what worked, and what the outcome of that week’s bake tasted like. In essence, doing this is a lot more for me than for you. LOL.

I need to decide how to get started. This is obviously going to cost a little bit in ingredients, specialty pans, etc. so do I want that cost to be spread out a little bit? You bet! In order to cut down on costs I won’t completing a chapter at a time. I will rotate chapters, but I will go in order of the next recipe to be baked in that chapter. That way I get to cook a variety and not get burned out before the cookie chapter is done. Speaking of cookies, that is the first chapter in this book and the first thing I will be baking.

I hope you’ll indulge me on veering slightly off track to take on this challenge and talk about it with you. Please feel free to bake along with me, but if you only want to read about, great! You can take it all in and feel good about the fact that between the two of us I’m the only one that can gain weight!

Wish me luck!

Deb

Click this link to purchase!** Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)

Blog Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Thomas Keller | Bouchon Bakery

**Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.