Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones.

(Or Almond Joy Scones. Or, more fittingly, Almond Joy the Baker Scones. Have I ever mentioned how much I adore her blog? I do. A ton.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My mother decided to reorganize our silverware drawer. After five and a half years of living in this house, we’ve only had the drawer one way, even after we got new silverware. Now, I’m unconsciously reaching for a knife when I want to eat cereal and finding spoons when I really just want to make a PB&J. Sometimes, the changes are bigger than that. Sometimes, friends will choose to go away permanently, whether on amiable or unfriendly terms. You might uproot your life and travel across continents to chase (and, hopefully, find) your dreams. Routines change; “normal” changes. You find yourself in strange places and even more bizarre scenarios, and as you fumble through life, you do your best, you fight the fight, you gulp the coffee and breathe the best you can. Life is rough. Breakfast can make it better. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mornings feel like the calm before the storm, especially if you’re up before dawn, which is one of the many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Settling into a routine gives you a bit of solid ground to stand on. Thus, I bring you scones to help the transition between “blissfully enjoying my 4th hour of sleep” and “I forgot it’s Monday” and all the other worries and anxieties on your mind. Soft, buttery, coconut-y, and comforting, like little bits of home. Biscuits and scones are some of my favorite baked goods to make – no waiting for butter to come down to room temperature, and plus, you get to use a pastry cutter. Or your hands. Like playing in the dirt, except you’re playing with butter and flour. And you’re not in small, flowered overalls. I’d say the most important point in this recipe is the toast the coconut and almonds beforehand. Heat brings out the best in both of those ingredients. And these little biscuits can be adjusted to your sweet tooth, or lack thereof. More coconut? Fewer almonds? White chocolate? Go for it. Whatever makes you feel most at home – whatever’s gonna get you through the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Make these tonight. Throw one in the microwave or toaster oven tomorrow morning as you’re rushing about, trying not to forget shoes or whatever weekend project you were assigned or all the things your child needs at day camp. Take a bite, take a breath, and go get ’em, tiger. This is your week.

Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones (printable recipe here!)
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes about 10-12 large scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or a mixture – I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and the rest AP)
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • additional sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place coconut and slivered almonds on it. Put in the oven to toast for 10-12 minutes, checking once or twice to make sure it doesn’t burn. When coconut is golden, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until butter and flour are mostly combined. Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
  5. Whisk together buttermilk and egg.
  6. Remove flour and butter mixture from the fridge; add coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips. Stir together, then create a well in the center. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the well all at once.
  7. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are just combined (preferably with a few visible flour streaks).
  8. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Work the dough into a disk with your hands. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake scones for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and devour.
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the aftermath.

Wordless…whoops.

…double whoops.

Can we please just talk about how busy I’ve been lately? Can we please talk about how I’ve been awake at 4 AM for the past three days to go to work? Can we please talk about how I’ve been working overtime, which means I’ve already worked about 38 hours this week? It’s hot, it’s humid, and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t drenched in sweat, or didn’t have coffee breath. The most quiet time I’ve had recently is the half hour lunch break in my car. The best iPod headphones I’ve ever owned decided to take a trip to The Land of Broken Electronic Accessories. Like, I barely have time to do laundry, let alone turn on my oven or turn on my computer or open any of the books I planned to read this summer but are gathering dust, just like my poor, lonely guitar that’s sitting in my closet. Also, I don’t know how to talk to boys.

I wish I could say my lack of posts is owing to the fact I’m a bum, or a busy college student seeing the world, or a busy college student spending time with the friends she never sees when she’s six hours away from them for most of the year, or anything more fun. No, it’s because I’m too tired to do things when I get home at 3 in the afternoon after being on my feet for far longer than any human being should be on cement flooring.

Guys. I just want a decent breakfast. I want to wake up sometime after 5 AM. I want to enjoy my summer. I want to go to the beach or the pool or, heck, run through the sprinkler in my backyard so I can finally wear the new swimsuit that’s sitting at the bottom of one of my drawer. I want my cartilage pierced and I want to be fluent in French before I take that scary 300-level course in the fall. I want to bake things and share them with you.

From the bottom of my exhausted, dehydrated heart, I am terribly sorry for my lack of updates, for missing Wordless Wednesday yesterday (gah!!), and for being an all-around lame blogger. Hopefully, after I’ve recuperated this weekend from the absurd amount of hours at work, I’ll have a recipe for you all. Thank you for reading this, dears, and enjoy the rest of your week. ❤

xo, Cakey

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

This is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Not only was this my first time using the ice cream maker that’s been sitting in our basement for a year, but it was my first time ever making homemade ice cream and the first I’d even touched a vanilla bean.

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It felt like a literal recipe for disaster. It felt like diving blindfolded into an ocean infested with sharks with open wounds. It felt like sword-fighting a pirate with one arm tied behind my back and an inch of wood beneath my feet. It felt like…well, you get the picture.

That aside, the world didn’t end. Yes, it was a struggle. There was a little bit of screaming, a little bit of lip-biting, and a good many frustrated sighs.

I’m not selling this recipe very well, am I?

But look at you. You have the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth – yet there’s that upturned chin, that grin of impetuous youth. Oh, I believe in you. (Whoops, I have How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on the brain! The whole musical is on my iPod. Hee hee.)

Really, though, I believe in you. If I can handle this, so can you.

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Truly, in retrospect, it wasn’t bad at all. Making food brings out the perfectionist in me almost more than any other activity, especially when dealing with long direction lists and expensive ingredients like vanilla beans.

(Admittedly, I am a disgusting perfectionist to a fault. To. A. Fault.)

Here’s a run-down (along with additional commentary mostly based on the things I muttered to myself under my breath). After combining the milk and heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) in a sauce pan (see, that’s easy!), you take the vanilla bean, use the sharp tip of a knife to slice it open lengthwise down the middle, and scrape out the little black seeds into the pan with the milk and cream. Don’t forget to add the pod in, too! After you bring it to a boil, let it simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Take a breather. Do some jumping jacks. Feed your cat.

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When the time for simmering is nearly up, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thick and smooth. The egg yolks will make it incredibly thick. Gently pour in one cup of the hot milk liquid in with the eggs, mix it together, and return it to the sauce pan. Don’t cry when you spill. Stir, stir, stir. Ah, yes, success! It’s starting to look like ice cream. And smell like ice cream. Except it’s not quite ice cream. Yet. Patience.

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(You can’t tell, but I was using a Winnie the Pooh measuring cup. And proud of it.)

Once it’s really thick, transfer it to a bowl and let it come down to room temperature before adding the vanilla extract to ensure the best flavor. From there, allow it to chill completely – up to 6 hours – before allowing the ice cream maker to do its thing.

Thus, one mental breakdown, lots of shouting, many drips, and an infinite number of hours later (ok, maybe only 24 hours)…

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Literally the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The creamiest, the tastiest, the sweetest, the most flavorful – just the best. Vanilla bean ice cream is my favorite to begin with, but this is a whole new level of yum. Beautiful little vanilla bean flecks, although virtually undetectable when going on feel alone, are the key to turning (or should I say churning?) this frozen treat from good to great.

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All that stress for nothing.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (printable recipe here!)
from the Cuisinart’s Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker recipe booklet
makes about 14-1/2 cup servings

[NOTE: Keep in mind that most ice cream maker freezing bowls need to be frozen for up to 24 hours before you make your ice cream, or at least the amount of time it takes to completely freeze the coolant liquid. The maker won’t do its thing unless the bowl is completely frozen.
You can substitute a lower-fat milk for the whole milk (I used 2% since I couldn’t find whole milk) or half-and-half for heavy cream. Keep in mind that this will change the texture and taste of your ice cream.]

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine the milk and cream in a medium sauce pan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise; use the blunt edge to scrape out the seeds into the sauce pan with the milk and cream. Stir in the bean pod as well.
  2. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently (but not constantly).
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Using a mixer, beat on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale yellow, similar to mayonnaise.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture; discard. Measure out one cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, pour the liquid into the egg mixture in a slow stream.
  5. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan; stir to combine with the remnants of the cream.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla extract. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard; chill completely.
  7. Once chilled, pour the custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on, and let mix until thickened, approximately 25-30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refirgerator. Remove from the freezer and allow to warm at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Devour.

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Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal.

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My mom’s birthday was last weekend, so I promised to make her some sort of breakfast. Unfortunately, we left early that morning for the Windy City, and that didn’t allow for time to actually make anything decent beyond “here, I poured you a birthday bowl of cereal!”. Thus it was decided we’d have a nice breakfast/brunch on the 4th of July when we’d all be home and not rushing about.

Baked oatmeal seems to be quite the thing nowadays, something I’ve never gotten around to making since all the members of my family are never in the house at breakfast time. Plus, I’m usually so impatient in the mornings to eat, any attempt at making something taking more than 10 minutes might send me into a grumpy-morning rage.

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Anyways. Baked oatmeal is incredibly easy, especially if you’re using pre-cut/dried fruit, and incredibly versatile. And incredibly delicious. Still discernibly oatmeal, yes, but definitely different from instant or stove-top. It’s almost like a breakfast cake (real cake for breakfast is better, of course, but not every morning. A sugar crash during the middle of the work day would not be very profitable) – a little crunchy on the top, soft and warm in the middle.

Before this, I had no idea how you actually made baked oatmeal – clearly, putting something in the oven was involved, but beyond that, je ne savais pas. Upon finding a recipe, I really liked layering some fruit at the bottom, covering it with oats, and pouring the milk on top. I’m such a child – drizzling the milk was my favorite part.

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Can you blame me?

Another funny thing: I had no idea what cutting apples “crosswise” meant, so I just sliced them up like that. Unfortunately, crosswise is a lot prettier than slicing.

This is a great dish for breakfast or brunch, and as previously mentioned, super versatile. If you don’t have (or want) strawberries, replace them with other fresh or frozen berries, bananas, other fruits, dried fruits. Any nut works well, too – I’m just partial to whole almonds, and walnuts are my mom’s favorite. Do yourself a favor and toast the nuts!

Wonderful warm from the oven and topped with more milk or yogurt.

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I accidentally asked my mom if she wanted ice cream on hers.

(I meant yogurt, I swear.)

Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal (printable recipe here!)
slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker (http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/01/03/apple-cinnamon-raisin-walnut-baked-oatmeal/)

[NOTE: to toast nuts, spread them evenly on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring at least twice, until nuts are brown and fragrant.]

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted (chopped, slivered, or whole)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large Gala apple, cored and cut crosswise
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced and divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, ¼ cup of the walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, egg, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Arrange sliced apples in a single layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the strawberries over the apples. Pour the oat mixture on top of the fruit, spreading with a spoon to ensure the fruit is evenly covered.
  5. Drizzle milk mixture over the top of the oats. Sprinkle remaining walnuts, almonds, and strawberries on top.
  6. Bake for 37 to 45 minutes, until top is golden brown and oatmeal is set. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon (or more, if desired) of melted butter on top. Devour. (Can be reheated and devoured another day! Or for lunch.)

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Cakey Bakes Updates!

Bon soir (or bon matin, or bonjour), my friends! Here are a few updates for those of you who are interested.

  • Working full-time on my feet is incredibly draining, so please bear with me as posts continue to be sporadic (except for Wordless Wednesdays, for obvious reasons). I’m doing my best! (Work also seems to be zapping my attention FIREWORKS span…which only makes matters worse. I’ll do my best, I promise!)
  • Seeing as I don’t have to work this weekend, I’m hoping to get a recipe up tomorrow and another on Sunday. Well, tomorrow for sure, Sunday if the in-progress recipe goes well.
  • Thanks to Google Drive, I’ve been able to put up printable recipes in my posts. It always frustrated me when I wanted to print a recipe I found but had to resort to printing the whole article. No more of that here!
  • Any thoughts? Any requests? Any comments? Anything? Please let me know! I’m trying to be better at commenting back/thanking people for liking my posts/etc. I’m so thankful people actually read what I have to say and hope you’re getting something out of it.

That be all!

x Cakey