Blackberry-Peach Hand Pies

Hand pies are just perfect for this time of year. No fork or plate required —a variety of fresh seasonal fruit available — picnics and barbecues happening. Another great thing is that you can make up a big bunch on a cooler day and freeze them. Personally, I would bake them before freezing so they are ready on short notice but nothing says you have to.

Years ago, hand pies were primarily made with reconstituted dried fruit since fresh fruit is often to juicy to encase it with delicate pastry. Now, a blend of dried and fresh fruit with the help of thickeners can yield a balanced mixture of flavors and textures.

There seems to be various successful ways to go with your pastry from the traditional pie crust to a more biscuit-type pastry. One thing I found that helps to avoid having a ‘gummy’ inside is rolling your dough fairly thin.

When it comes to the filling, I always have the urge to overfill pies, be it full or hand size. Getting it right sure helps to keep them from splitting and leaking.

Hand pies have primarily been deep fried in past but my preference is to bake them. I guess I’ll just never be a deep fried lover of anything. These makes such a nice seasonal combo!

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Blackberry-Peach Hand Pies
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Course dessert
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Ingredients
Pastry
Blackberry/Peach Filling
Topping
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pastry
Blackberry/Peach Filling
Topping
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. With fingertips, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles small peas. In a measuring cup, whisk together water, egg & vinegar. Make a well in dry mixture & pour wet mixture into it all at once. With hands, mix until JUST combined. Roll out pastry & cut 8 - 6-inch circles with a pastry cutter. Lay pastry circles on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & salt. Stir in blackberries & peaches. Cook over medium heat until mixture has thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Add vanilla & allow to cool COMPLETELY. In a cup, beat egg with water for the egg wash topping. Set aside
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. When fruit has cooled, remove pastry from fridge & divide filling between pastry circles. Try to keep the filling in the center, away from the outer edges. Brush a line of egg wash over pastry edge then fold hand pie in half. Use a fork to press the pastry layers together forming a seal to keep fruit from leaking. With a sharp knife, cut 3 vents in each pie.
  2. Brush the tops with egg wash & sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • Frozen puff pastry can easily be substituted for regular pastry if you wish.
  • If you wish, use a hand pie cutter for easy assembly.

Rhubarb Almond Lattice Cake

There are few food combinations as heavenly as strawberries and rhubarb. This is food for the soul! The juicy sweetness of one balances out the almost inedible tartness of the other. Then there is that gorgeous color that strawberries bring to make rhubarb look so good. It’s a classic pairing that’s hard to get enough of if you enjoy this seasonal treat.

Since rhubarb appears quite frequently on my summer blogs, I wanted to give it a different look today. As usual I’m trying to meld a few ideas together into one dessert. The lattice top, made from tender summer rhubarb is weaved over a layer of almond cake. Then strawberry/vanilla filling comes next with the bottom consisting of a second layer of the almond cake. It may require a little more time than some desserts but well worth the effort.

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Rhubarb Almond Lattice Cake
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Ingredients
Almond Cake
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Almond Cake
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
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Instructions
Almond cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line TWO 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda & salt. In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar with a mixer until light & fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Beat in almond extract.
  3. Beat in flour mixture on low in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly between cake pans & bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
  1. Peel thin slices off the rhubarb with a knife or vegetable peeler. Use the outer skins as they are the pinkest & save the leftover stalks to make the filling.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the water & sugar until sugar is dissolved & the mixture is just simmering. Over low heat, add a few rhubarb strips at a time & poach until soft, about a minute. Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining rhubarb strips. Place a piece of plastic wrap on a plate & form the lattice top for your cake. Set aside the poaching syrup & allow to cool.
Strawberry/Rhubarb Filling
  1. Combine diced rhubarb & strawberry gelatin in a large microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover bowl & cook for a couple of minutes until rhubarb is soft. Let mixture cool. Stir milk & vanilla pudding mix in a bowl until moistened. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until thickened, about 2 minutes; stir cooled strawberry/rhubarb mixture into pudding mixture.
Assembly
  1. Once cakes have cooled, place one on top of rhubarb lattice. Spread the strawberry/rhubarb filling on top of this before placing second cake on top of that. Carefully place a light serving dish over cake & turn over so that the rhubarb lattice is on the top. Neaten up the edges of the lattice work by cutting with a pair of scissors if necessary. Drizzle over any remaining syrup (if you wish). Slice & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you wish, place a layer of fresh sliced strawberries on the cake after you have topped the first layer with filling.

Blackberry Scones with Chambord Glaze

Blackberries seem to be my thing this summer. Its funny how every season, something peaks your interest and you want to use it in everything. Since blackberries are pretty tart and quite expensive most of the time, their not always top priority but—.

I happened to come across this scone recipe the other day. It uses self-rising flour, a staple I don’t always have on hand. The recipe seemed interesting in the way that it used buttermilk and lemon zest and not a lot of sugar with these tart berries. Mind you, they do have a bit of glaze on them.

If your not familiar with self-rising flour, it is a mixture made up of regular flour, baking powder and salt. The leavening power of the baking powder is mixed evenly throughout the flour, so you will automatically get that nice rise out of your baked goods every time.

Self-rising flour was invented in England in the 1800’s as a way for sailors to create better baked goods while on board. The idea was patented in the USA around 1849, which eventually led to the creation of mass-market baking mixes such as Bisquick, cake mixes, etc. Self-rising flour should only be used for its specific purpose as it will not work well with breads that are yeasty.

You can make your own by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp fine salt. Keep in mind that most store-bought self-rising flours will contain a ‘softer’ or lower protein content flour than your typical all-purpose flour. This means that your end result, should you use regular all-purpose flour, will be slightly less tender (but still good).

Because of the baking powder, self-rising flour has a shorter shelf life than other flours. For that reason, it is always sold packaged in small quantities.

All that being said, these scones are amazingly tender. The glaze was truly ‘the icing on the cake’. They are sooo-– good!

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Blackberry Scones with Chambord Glaze
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings
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Instructions
Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and lemon zest. With fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg & vanilla; add to flour mixture. Fold in just until incorporated then carefully fold in blackberries. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Score into 8 wedges. Bake 20 minutes or until golden & test done. Cover lightly with foil if over browning before baked. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Cool before glazing.
Glaze
  1. In a small dish, combine glaze ingredients & drizzle over cooled scones.

Bumble Berry Pie

This is a Canadian berry pie, originating from the Maritime provinces that is made up of at least three kinds of berries. Since there is no such thing as a ‘bumble berry’, as the name suggests, its a mixture of berries that are in season (ones that you might bumble upon).

Berries commonly used in this pie may include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Other choices often used are apples, rhubarb, cherries, plums or fresh cranberries.

Most often the pie is made with a top crust of pastry or designs cut out and laid over the fruit. Other ideas would be to use a nice streusal topping or as I have done on mine, grated pastry sprinkled with coarse sugar.

This is such a great summer dessert served, of course, with ice cream!

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Bumble Berry Pie
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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serves 8 people
Ingredients
Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
serves 8 people
Ingredients
Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening. In a measuring cup, place the egg & vinegar then add enough COLD water to make 1 cup; whisk together. Make a well in center of flour & pour ALL liquid in. With hands combine quickly but do NOT over mix. This recipe will should give you enough for about 3 - double crust 10-inch pies. Whatever you don't use, freeze for later use. This is so handy when time is short & dessert is needed. At this time, roll out a 10-inch bottom pie shell, place in pie pan & refrigerate until ready to fill. Take the same amount of pastry, form it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap & place it in the freezer. When you are ready for the top pastry on your bumble berry pie, remove the ball from the freezer & GRATE it over the top of the fruit.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine fruit. In another dish, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch & cinnamon. Gently toss into fruit mixture along with lemon juice.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place filling into chilled pie shell, using the large holes on a box grater, grate the ball of pastry (from freezer) directly over the fruit, as you would a block of cheese. Using a fork, gently move the gratings here & there for an even covering. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  2. Bake pie on center rack for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 F. rotating pie for even baking. Bake about 25-30 minutes more or until to is golden brown & juices are bubbly & thick around the edge. Remove from oven. Serve warm with ice cream.
Recipe Notes
  • Never┬áhesitate to vary the fruit you choose for this pie. Remember, its whatever you 'bumble' upon!

Strawberry Tea Loaf with Fresh Kiwi Glaze

I have always enjoyed making (and eating) tea breads. They can come in all sizes and even though they are called bread, for most part, I’d say they are cake.

Tea breads are part of the quick bread genre. They are considered quick because they don’t require kneading or rising time. Instead of yeast, usually baking powder or baking soda or a combination of both are used as a leavening agent.

Afternoon tea, the quintessential English custom, was introduced in England by a Duchess in the year 1840. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at 8 PM, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner (supper). The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread/butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. Upper class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five PM.

This tea loaf, pairs sweet, ripe strawberries with the bright, clean flavor of lemon zest and is topped off with a tangy kiwi glaze. A match made in food heaven.

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Strawberry Tea Loaf with Fresh Kiwi Glaze
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Instructions
Strawberry Tea Loaf
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan, line bottom with strip of parchment paper with 2-inch overhang on either end.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, lemon zest & vanilla. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. Fold in prepared strawberries. Scrape batter into pan.
  3. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until cake tested with a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan, set on wire rack, 20 minutes before using parchment overhang to lift out loaf. Cool completely on rack. Slice & serve with kiwi glaze.
Kiwi Glaze
  1. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over the cold water & set aside to soften. Peel the kiwi and blend in a food processor or blender until pureed. Be careful not to over-process as the black seeds will break down & change the color of the puree.
  2. Add the kiwi puree to gelatin mixture. Heat mixture to dissolve gelatin but do not over heat. Continue to stir until dissolved. Keep covered in refrigerator until needed.

Vintage ‘Grape-Nut’ Coffeecake

I don’t know if you recall Post Grape-Nuts cereal? It was one of the first ready-to-eat cereal products ever made available to the public. Developed by C.W. Post in 1897, Grape-Nuts was so named because of the glucose, which he called ‘grape sugar’, that formed during the baking process. This, combined with the nutty flavor of the cereal, is said to have inspired its name. Originally the cereal came out of the oven as a rigid sheet. He then broke it into pieces and ran them through a coffee grinder to produce the ‘nut’ sized nuggets.

In addition to being the first wide spread product to use a coupon ( Posts’ penny-off coupon  was a game changer at that time), Grape-Nuts was also there for several famous moments in world history.

The cereal was made of wheat and malted barley. A unique muffin recipe I had used during some of my commercial food service years, made use of this particular cereal. It gave the muffins such a wholesome, nutty taste and was always enjoyed by customers.

Somewhere, in the late 90’s the cereal became discontinued here in Canada for whatever reason. I suspect with the dozens of cereals available these days, grocers ran out of shelf space. Anyway, I got an idea to re-invent that great tasting muffin recipe into a coffeecake. I understand that ‘Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nugget Cereal’ would be a good replacement. When I read the ingredients of oats, wheat, rye, brown rice, triticale, barley, buckwheat and sesame  it sounded great or maybe even better.


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Vintage 'Grape-Nut' Coffeecake

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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American

Servings


Ingredients

Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American

Servings


Ingredients

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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a 12-cup bundt pan.

  2. In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients & allow to stand for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda & salt. When wet mixture is 'soaked', combine wet & dry ingredients, stirring ONLY until moistened.

  3. Spread 1/3 of batter in bundt pan. Place dollops of apricot preserve (about 1/4 cup) over batter; carefully spreading evenly. Repeat again then ending with the top layer being cake batter. Bake until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, about 45 minutes to an 1 hour. Remove from oven; cool slightly before removing from pan. If you wish, coffeecake can be dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with a cream cheese glaze.

Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk 60 grams of cream cheese with 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp butter & 1/2 tsp vanilla until drizzling consistency. If necessary, add a little milk. Drizzle over coffeecake.

Seven Grain Date Roll Cake with Apple Cream Cheese

Sometimes a favorite recipe just begs for an update. Many of us will remember the ‘vintage’ jelly roll cake. A nice tender, golden cake with strawberry jam rolled up inside and sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar. Probably considered unique for its time. Food, like fashion, music, design and architecture are reflections of our culture. I’ve always found it interesting to rethink previous recipe ideas, use spices and seasonings from other cultures or try contrasting ingredients that don’t typically go together. The most important thing is not to veer so far from the original that the end result is unrecognizable.

This recipe is one that has been in my muffin recipe collection for over twenty years. A multi-grain batter with dates and nuts. I was trying to think how I could do an update on it to transform it into a unique cake roll. With a few adjustments to the original batter as well as adding apple cream cheese filling, it turned a grainy breakfast cereal into a very tasty dessert.

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Seven Grain Date Roll Cake with Apple Cream Cheese
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Instructions
Apple Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine apples, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon & water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft & caramelized & most of the water has evaporated but it's still syrupy. Pour into a bowl, cover & refrigerate until completely cooled. In the meantime, begin preparing cake roll. When ready to use filling, whip the cream cheese in a bowl with sour cream, yogurt, extract & powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in cooled apple mixture & spread on cake roll.
Cake Roll
  1. In a small bowl, combine 7-grain cereal, boiling water, instant coffee granules & chopped dates. Allow to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 15 X 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, oil, extract & above prepared 7-grain mixture.
  3. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & nuts. Fold dry mixture carefully into wet mixture, mixing only until just combined. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until cake tests done.
  4. Turn out onto a tea towel sprinkled with a little powdered sugar. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake & towel together. Cool. Unroll & spread with apple cream cheese filling. Re-roll & chill. If you prefer, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar before slicing & serving.

Sheet Pan Pancakes

Today, March 5th, is officially known as Shrove Tuesday. This date varies from year to year and falls somewhere between Feb. 3rd and March 9th. This traditional ‘feast’ day marks the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. The expression Shrove Tuesday, derives from the word shrive, meaning absolve. This day was observed by many Christians who wanted to make a point of self-examination to consider what wrongs they needed to repent.

Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and making pancakes was the perfect way of doing that. The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolize four points of significance at this time of year.

EGGS –creation, FLOUR–the staff of life, SALT–wholesomeness, MILK–purity

I’ve noticed this idea of the Sheet Pan Pancakes on the internet. It seems like our basic sheet pan has graduated from just baking cookies to whole meals and now pancakes. Sure looks like a good idea to me. Make up one big batter, put it on a baking sheet, top it with 3 or 4 add-ons, bake, cut into squares and serve. Seriously! Does it get any easier than that — no flipping required.

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Sheet Pan Pancakes
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Cuisine American, European
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Cuisine American, European
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, sour cream, melted butter & vanilla.
  2. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture & whisk together until no lumps remain. Refrigerate batter for 15 minutes before baking. You can even refrigerate overnight & bake the next morning if you prefer. During the 15 minute 'resting' time, prepare your choice of toppings for pancakes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 16 X 12-inch sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour batter onto prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth out the top. Imagine the batter in the pan divided into however many types of toppings your going to use. Top each section with your choices.
  4. Place sheet pan in the oven. Bake, rotating it halfway through baking until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. Test with a toothpick in center for doneness. Remove from oven, lift pancakes out of sheet pan with edges of parchment paper. Cut into 12 pieces & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • For Raspberries & Cream Cheese Swirl - Whisk 75 gm softened cream cheese with 2-3 Tbsp milk & 3 Tbsp powdered sugar until completely smooth. Dot cream cheese mixture evenly over pancake batter, then use a knife or skewer to make a swirl pattern. Dot with 1 1/2 cups (150 gm) fresh raspberries.

Blueberry Zucchini Bars with Lemon Glaze

There’s no question, fresh blueberries are a pleasure to bake with. But, along with being quite expensive, their season is short. As a result, frozen ones become the backbone of winter blueberry desserts. Using them in a pie presents no problem. When it comes to putting them into a batter, frozen berries bleeding juice, turn that golden hue into a shade of purple green when baked. Not good! I’ve found a simple solution is to rinse the berries in cold water, then gently dry them between layers of paper towel. You will probably lose a bit of the berries nutrition, but for most part, the juice and vitamins will remain inside.

Pairing zucchini with fruit in baked goods might seem a little odd but no different than using carrots in cake. Zucchini has grown in popularity over the years due to its amazing growth rate in the garden and its versatility. It can be sauteed, baked, poached, stuffed, eaten raw and of course baked into breads, cakes, scones etc., etc.

These little blueberry/zucchini bars are extremely moist and tender. The lemon in the batter and the glaze takes them to the level of amazing in my opinion. We just loved them.

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Blueberry Zucchini Bars with Lemon Glaze
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
Batter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 X 13-inch ( or 15 X 10 X 1) baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine zucchini, buttermilk, lemon zest & lemon juice; toss to combine. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In a third bowl, whisk 3 1/4 cups flour, baking soda & salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with zucchini mixture, mixing well after each addition. Toss blueberries in remaining flour; fold into batter.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake 50 minutes for 9 X 13-inch size or until light golden & a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven to a wire rack.
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth; spread over top while bars are still warm.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe easily divides in half for a smaller amount using an 8 X 8-inch baking pan.

Tropical Papaya Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Scones were originally made from oats and shaped into a large round called a ‘bannock’. Each round was scored into four to six triangles and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove.

A scone is not a cupcake. Making scones is like stirring together biscuits. A simple mixture of flour, salt, baking powder and/or soda, milk or sour cream, butter and sometimes eggs. Scones are the perfect blank canvas and can be flavored to taste and loaded with add-ons.

Many times, scones have been perceived as dry and boring. The classic scone is crusty on the outside and biscuit textured within. A cakey super moist texture should not be expected in a scone.

We found this dried fruit scone was excellent eaten slightly warm. The cardamom spice really enhanced the flavor of the papaya fruit in them. I used the flour/oatmeal combo, as I most often do because of the the nice texture and taste it gives. The glaze is optional as it kind of goes against the basics of a scone but what the heck!

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Tropical Papaya Scones with Vanilla Glaze
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Papaya Scones
Vanilla Glaze
Servings
Ingredients
Papaya Scones
Vanilla Glaze
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Instructions
Papaya Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse oatmeal for a few seconds then add next 5 ingredients & pulse a few more seconds. Add butter; whirl ONLY until mixture resembles coarse crumbs then place in a large bowl. Stir in chopped fruit.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk & vanilla. Add to dry mixture blending only until JUST incorporated. Scoop onto baking sheet & bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
Vanilla Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. With a small spoon, drizzle glaze over scones.