Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Birthdays & Butterflies

My daughter turned five a few days ago.  When I gave her the choice of what kind of dessert she'd like, she said she wanted to think on it.  We found ourselves in the grocery store one day, and she spied a boxed "pink lemonade" cake mix on a shelf.  She emphatically declared that was her choice, but that she wanted "fairy cupcakes" for her friends party, AND she wanted a two-layer cake for her family party the following day.

I had other ideas prior to this, ideas that were more time involved and crafty.  But, she is five now, and it's the first year she really had a specific request like this, so...

We used the box mix, I made the buttercream from scratch (thanks, SprinkleBakes, that American Buttercream is a dream in a piping bag!) and I found some lovely edible butterflies to raise the bar.

I think my daughter gave me a gift on her birthday - the little voice of practicality reminding me that it's ok to take a shortcut, and that a shortcut doesn't mean lazy or boring.  Shortcuts can allow you more creativity time, time to make that box mix beautiful. 

Someday she may ask for a more complicated birthday dessert, and I'll be ready.  But she loved these and everyone else did, too!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Farmer's Market Blackberry Buttermilk Scones

I'm still here.  With no excuses for my absence.  Just these comforting buttermilk scones bursting with blackberries my little one and I got fresh at the farmer's market.  Peace offering?

This all started with 1 1/4 cups buttermilk I had leftover from another project and a break in the heat we've had over the last couple of weeks.  Cloudy, cool, air freshly cleaned by summer rain.  We finally opened our windows, turned off the AC and decided to leave the house.  We hightailed it out to a lovely farmer's market nearby.

The corn in the field is waist high.  The giant wooden swinging benches were squeaky with lack of use.  The lemonade stand was closed (it's a weekday) but the sun was peeking at us and my daughter skipped happily to the crates of fruit, breads, veggies, and local Amish cheeses and honey.  This is not high season at the market, but there was no mistaking the delight that filled me as we strolled the stands.  My little girl's hum as she spied lovely peaches, then her eyes wide asking "Honeydew, Mama?"  Either the winter was as horrible as I think it was, or I really need to get out more.  The zingy feeling of being alive on a beautiful morning like this just got me.

We came home and got to work, together, and managed to leave a few warm blackberries for the scones.
I found the base recipe at, but put my own spin on it by adding some vanilla sugar I had made a while back, some freshly ground cardamom and nutmeg.  The feel of this dough under my hands as I patted it out, blackberries poking out and separating into their little individual bubbles, my daughter peeking over trying to sneak a piece raw...this is summer, my friends.  This. Is. Summer.
Blackberry Buttermilk Scones
adapted from

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup butter, melted, plus more for brushing
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup Demerara washed raw cane sugar for sprinkling

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, or grease.

Place flour, baking powder, sea salt, cardamom, and nutmeg into a large bowl and "sift" by whisking all the dry ingredients evenly.  Drop in blackberries individually, letting them be coated in the dry mixture.  Toss lightly to coat.

Add the butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and stir gently just until no flour pockets are visible.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and pat out into a circle about 10 inches wide.  Cut into 8 equal wedges and place the scones on the baking sheet, allowing at least an inch or two around each scone.  Brush each scone with additional melted butter and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. 

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom.  Serve slightly warm or cool to room temperature.  These are best eaten the day they are made, with a little friend, if you like.