Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Maple Bacon Scones

I wanted to try something a little new this weekend. Don't worry, it was still bread related. I'm still perfecting my bread baking abilities. But, this recipe turned out to be really easy and delicious. I bet it will make the perfect Mother's Day Brunch!

While I was looking around for something new - and especially tasty - I found this recipe for Maple Bacon Scones on the King Arthur Flour site. My husband also bought me two bags of king arthur on Saturday to do a taste test. Is it really better? Well, I am not certain. I have to continue my taste testing.

I will say that these maple bacon scones were simply wonderful. They have just the right amount of sweetness and just the right amount of maple flavor to complement the saltiness of the bacon.

One of the best parts is that the base dough is delicious and you can use the recipe as a framework for any alternate filling if bacon is not your thing (my father requested cranberries, my neighbor requested blueberries). As it is, I didn't follow the recipe exactly anyway, which really shouldn't be a surprise. So, now you have two frameworks to review, my recipe below or the King Arthur Flour recipe!

Batter/Dough Ingredients:
3 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. cold butter (sliced into half tablespoons)
5 tbsp. real maple syrup
1 large egg
1/2 c. cold milk
8 oz. cooked bacon (1/4" bits)

Glaze Ingredients:
1 tbsp cream
2 tbsp sugar

1. In a mixing bowl (either mechanical, manual, or the breadmaker), mix all of the dry ingredients and then add the butter a pat at a time. Keep mixing until the mixture is crumbly, it doesn't have to be perfectly uniform because it will mix better as you knead in the liquid ingredients.

2. Beat the egg and cold milk together and whisk in the maple syrup. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture from above.

3. Drop in the bacon bits.

4. Knead until consistent. You want everything moist, uniformity is not required.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Move the dough to the baking sheet and pat or roll out to 5/8" thickness. Rolling it into a rectangle or square helps to form your triangle scones. But you can just do your best to cut triangles from whatever shape your dough ends up. The King Arthur blog recommends cutting the dough into 3" squares and then diagonally cutting bisecting them into triangles.

6. Once you've cut your scones and arranged them on the baking sheet, place the baking sheet into the freezer for 30 minutes. Yes, the freezer.

7. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees F.

8. When the scones are cooled, paint the scones with cream and dust with sugar.

9. Bake for 18 minutes.

More Bread Recipes on ST:
7. Challah

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Montage: Discussion Board - Foster Month

May is National Foster Care Month, which just seems to fit right in with our heart strings for orphan care and adoption. We are dedicated to making an impact (however small) on orphan care - by hosting periodic discussion boards, distributing adoption grants, partnering with adoptive families for fundraising, and working with like minded organizations like the Sparrow Fund and New Day Foster Home.

I always wondered about international adoptions. I know so many people who have adopted internationally, but I don't know many people who have adopted domestically. And, here was this article about "Abandoning Children in Foster Care" stating that 23,000 children were legally emancipated from foster care in 2012.

That's 23,000 kids - now legally declared adults - who age out of the system. They have no built in support structure, nowhere to go during the holidays, no parents to call after a tough day - it just seems like a recipe for sadness. And, according to the chart below, it looks to be the case.
What are your thoughts? Do we extend foster care to 21 years old? How do we increase the number of domestic adoption?
Click on the picture below or this link to read the full article! Leave your thoughts on facebook or right here in a comment on the blog.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fantastic Friday: 5000th Fan Sale

This is a Flash Sale! :) But, you have until Monday morning to place your orders!!

*A Little Fine Print - This coupon code will not apply to the Scarlet Scraps jewelry collection as the proceeds of these sales go to our Adoption Grant Fund.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Challah-lujah!

As you probably know, I've been working my way though the breads of the world and coming up with my own recipes along the way (more on my own flavorful sourdough recipe next week).

This past week I had to tackle an interesting challenge in order to make an absolutely gorgeous Challah loaf. The pictures of this bread from around the internet absolutely intimidated me - sculptured, artisanal, radiant come to mind as a descriptors. Taste is primary, but beauty is a requirement that comes in a close second.

To top it all off, my mother never taught me how to French Braid. My aunt always french braided my hair when she came to visit, so I never learned. And, according to the internet sources a French Braid makes for a beautiful Challah.

What to do when faced with these challenges in life? Try. Fail. Fix. Succeed.

My first failure came when using my bread maker. Instead of using the dough setting, I accidentally used one of the bread settings and then promptly left the house to go shopping for plants. When I returned home, the house was filled with the wonderful smell of baking bread! 

Delightful... Taste? Check! Texture? Fair. Beauty? Epic failure.

Round two was a success? I made a couple of modifications to the recipe (I used my new favorite bread blog at King Arthur flour as a recipe framework - they have tons of great tips) and we arrived a delicious and gorgeous loaf.

1/2 c. warm water
7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided 5 & 2)
1/4 c. honey
2 eggs
4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dry active yeast

Egg Wash - 1 egg + 1 tbsp cold water 

1. Add the liquid ingredients, including 5 tablespoons of EVOO, to the bottom of your mixing bowl. Quickly beat the eggs and add to the rest of the liquid ingredients.

2. Combine the dry ingredients and mix in order to make sure that the salt and yeast are distributed. Then add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients.

3. As you mix (either in a mixer or the bread maker on manual / dough program), watch the consistency of the dough. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO to achieve the soft pliable texture (dare I say gooey goodness?)
4. Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours (covered).*

5. Now here's the braiding part... The part my mother never taught me. Separate the dough into four equal volume cylinders.
6. Then you roll each cylinder into a long rope (20+ inches). The rope should be about 3/4" in diameter. Pinch the top of the four ropes together (you can spray with a tiny bit of water to help the adhering process). Imagine the ropes are numbered left to right 1 through 4.

7. Take the leftmost outside rope (1) and loop it around and under the rightmost inside (3) rope.

8. Take the right-most outside rope (4) and loop it around and under the leftmost inside rope (2).

9. Go back to #7 and repeat 7 and 8 (alternating) until you have braided the whole loaf. (See Mom? It isn't that hard.) Pinch the finished end together.

10. Place the loaf on parchment paper on an insulated cookie sheet. You can cover the loaf loosely by wrapping the parchment paper around it, or use a damp towel, for its final rise (60-90 minutes).

11. Preheat your oven to 365 degrees F (most recipes call for 375 degrees F, but I found 365 degrees F works better in my oven and does not over-crisp the crust)

12. Whisk together your egg wash and brush over the loaf.

13. Place your loaf in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, place a loose tent of foil over your challah loaf and then continue baking for an additional 25 minutes (to ensure that you cook the sides and don't burn the crust)

14. As with other breads, I use the cake tester method to tell that it's done. If my bbq thermometer pulls clean and the temperature is close to 200 deg F, we are ready to eat!Needless to say? Remove from the oven to cool.

Note: Other recipes call for vegetable oil. We don't really keep this on hand in our house and olive oil adds just a tiny bit of extra deliciousness. I used vegetable oil in the first attempt and EVOO in the second attempt with an extra tablespoon for good measure above the 6 tablespoons recommended by KA.

Note 2: I'm a woman on the go, so sometimes I only have so much time but still want to serve a lovely and handmade treat to visitors. You can stop at step 4 either before or after the two hour rise. I've found that I can let the dough rise and then place it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Then I just take it out and resume the forming and then allow a final rise before placing it in the oven. I have also formed the bread and then placed it in the fridge for a long final rise until ready to bake it. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Montage: Top 7 Adoption Posts

I want to thank each of you for following the blog on Scarlet Threads. I know that we've meandered through a lot of topics over the years, but a specific topic is a top focus for our organization: Adoption and Orphan Care. I wanted to share a few of our favorite posts on the subject!

Thanks to one of our partner families for sharing this post about their ST Fundraising success! We just shipped out three new Adoption Fundraising Kits this month to adoptive families!! I love that we get to be involved in so many families' adoption journeys in such an empowering way! Our adoptive families keep 50% of the purchase price to help bring their new little one home. Not to mention, we distribute grants from the Scarlet Scraps Adoption Fund to a couple of our partner families each year (as funds permit.)

This post is simultaneously my favorite and the most heartbreaking post from Carrie during her journey to bring Alea home. Suffice to say, it is one of the most read as well.

3. Life Grows with Love - Results
Our community (you) achieved simply outrageous results during our #STOrphanCare campaign. Each year we have picked a child from New Day Foster Home to sponsor. We identify and communicate this child's medical needs and find matching donors. Our amazing community does the rest. Last year, with our matching donors, we raised $7,500+ or 16 months of anti-rejection medications for transplant recipients at NDFH.

I love this joyful post from a New Day adoptive family. "Knowing someone sponsored our child before we ever knew she was our child; I can’t even explain the emotions it stirs inside me when I think of that."

It's soooo worth it!  "If you’re reading this, you might know someone adopting, or considering adopting, and wondering….well, how hard is it?  I can tell you, when we first set down the adoption road, we had NO IDEA what we were in for ;)" - Erika Jensen

"I want to remember it all.  The way I saw her walk in... I knew it was her even without seeing her face, just  because she was the size I imagined she would be.  The way she clutched my China necklace the moment they handed her to me, winding those little fingers in and out, in and out." - Carrie
"Our bags are mostly packed.  A few more things in, a few things out, and they will be ready for the final zip. And just like that, here we are: Our last day home. The day before we leave for China.  My last day in our own home as a stay-at-home mama of my ONE feisty and sweet little girl." - Carrie