Apple Caramel Oatmeal Bars

apple caramel barsJust last week was Guy Fawkes day.  It is an annual commemoration observed on November 5, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of November 5, 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

Settlers who came over to Newfoundland brought this tradition of lighting bonfires and it has continued ever since.  The town of Grand Falls-Windsor hosts a bonfire night and it has become quite the celebration.  People donate their wood and paper and a large bonfire is created, safely away from people’s houses.  Bonfire night is another ‘old world’ tradition that Newfoundland keeps alive.

Some rural communities also have bonfires with no connection to Guy Fawkes.  There may be a connection to ancient pagan customs instead. In Great Britain fires would be lit for Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) to appease the Celtic gods and bring light back to the dying sun.  Samhain becomes our modern Halloween, so it’s easy for the bonfire tradition to blend together, being only five days apart.

Because I’ve been playing around with molasses and apples and made the apple pandowdy, I found another great recipe you can carry with you.  These apple caramel bars are perfect as a snack sitting by the bonfire or later in the year when your bonfire is indoors. (Note: I mean your fireplace.  Please, for the love of God, don’t make a bonfire in your house.  Are ya stunned?)  These bars are moist and chewy from the oatmeal and the molasses gives it that unique Newfoundland taste.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, and baking soda in a bowl.  Add melted butter and molasses.  Mix until combined.  Press about half of the mixture into a parchment lined 9X13 pan.  Make sure to have the parchment come up the sides.  It will be easier to remove later.  Press down to make even layer, extending completely to all sides.  Bake for eight minutes.  Remove from oven to let cool slightly.

Peel, core, and slice apples.  I used Granny Smiths because I like the tartness against the sweetness of the molasses and caramel.  If you want to change it up, just make sure it’s a good baking apple.  Place apples on top of baked oatmeal layer.

Remove lid from caramel sauce and microwave for 30 seconds to one minute.  This will make it easier to pour over apples.  Use a glove to remove sauce from microwave.  This is warmed sugar.  It can get very warm.  Pour evenly over the apples.  If needed spread the sauce so it covers most of the apple layer.  I used President’s Choice Dulce de Leche sauce, but any caramel sauce will do.  Sobey’s has a Whiskey Caramel sauce which would be lovely.

Add remaining 1/2 cup flour to the leftover half of oatmeal mixture and combine.  Sprinkle topping on the caramel, remembering to cover all the dessert.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Let cool on rack completely before removing from pan.  If you like you can cool in the fridge and then cut.  If so, let it warm to room temperature before serving.  Enjoy as a bar, or cut larger pieces and serve with whipped cream.

Apple Caramel Oatmeal Bars

These bars are a great treat after a cold day. Sit by the fire and have a bite.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 32 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup fancy molasses
  • 3 cups apples sliced thinly
  • 1 jar caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, and baking soda in large bowl or mixer.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add molasses to butter to combine. Add oatmeal/flour mixture and mix until no flour is showing.
  3. Press about half of the mixture into a prepare 9x13 pan lined with parchment. Make sure there's an even layer going all the way to the sides of the pan. Bake for eight minutes in a 350F oven. Remove and let cool slightly.
  4. Peel, core, and slice 3 cups of apples. Place sliced apples on cooled, baked oatmeal layer. Spread evenly.
  5. Microwave jarred caramel sauce until it's soft enough to pour: about 30 seconds to one minute. You want the sauce to still be thick, so soft enough to pour and spread. Pour evenly over apples.
  6. Add 1/2 cup flour to remained oatmeal mixture. Mix until flour is incorporated. Crumble mixture on top of caramel/apples layer. Make sure to coat evenly and cover the top completely. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 32.

Whata ya at?

When I told people that I wanted to write and start a blog, the first question is “What are you going to write about?” Blogs are funny things.  They can be a bit narcissistic, but revelationary.   You have to be a bit vulnerable in letting people into your world as well as outgoing enough to want to tell people about things that you consider interesting.

That’s why I wanted to blog about two things that I consider a big part of my identity.  Firstly, I was born in Gander, Newfoundland and spent most of my childhood on the island.  There was a couple of years living in Labrador, but overall the majority of my upbringing has been on the Rock.  Talk to most Newfies and they will say that they consider themselves a Newfoundlander first and foremost.  Canadian yes, but Newfoundlander definitely.  We have a staunch pride in our province, our lives, and our unique outlook.  We have a particular sense of humour, sometimes bordering on the macabre.  The late Newfoundland writer, Ray Guy, commented that Newfoundlanders will talk about how Aunt Martha got eaten alive by lobsters without batting an eye as they are having their Sunday dinner.

“Some sin, ain’t it?  She went quickly d’ough.  Give us some of those pototoes, my ducky.”

That quirky sense of homour has launched the career of many islanders.  Look up Codco on Youtube, or more recently This Hour has 22 Minutes, and you’ll see the loving and self-effacing comedy that we’re known for.  Many say it comes from our Irish roots who have the same way of looking at life.

Secondly, I love baking.  Ever since I was a youngster I would create things in the kitchen.  Sparked by watching my grandmother make bread, I have always liked to create things in the kitchen.  I received my baking certificate a while back now, but the love of bread and baking hasn’t diminished.

whitebreadBread is essential to most people’s existence.  For the largest part of the last couple millennia, bread kept people alive.  Bread is still part of Newfoundland’s identity.  Pick up any Newfoundland cookbook and you’ll still find recipes for white bread.  It’s such a simple thing, but it was a mainstay of my, and many others’, upbringing.

Bread is simple, inexpensive, hearty, and comforting.  For the latter part of the last century it has been almost compulsory to know how to make bread.  Alan Doyle, in his book Where I Belong, remembers his mother making bread once a week, eight to ten loaves at a time.  By his admission, he grew up fairly poor.  And while we weren’t considered poor, my mother was the eldest of twelve children, so any way to save a bit of money was appreciated.  Why buy bread for 50 cents a loaf, when you could make it for less than half that?  Nowadays, it’s a matter of convenience for most, but I still make my own bread instead of buying it from the store.

I’ve found that I like working with bread and dough.  I love the slightly acidic smell of a sourdough.  The crackling bread makes when I first comes of out a hot oven and starts to cool.  Even the soft, buttery texture from a good fresh loaf of white bread.  That’s what I grew up with.  Fresh white bread made into three buns and placed in a loaf pan.  When it came out of the oven, you would quickly brushed some butter on the top so it would get soaked into the loaf when it cooled.

While bread is common in most people’s lives.  It’s ingrained, so to speak, in Newfoundland.  Diane Tye of Memorial University comments that bread “touched all aspects of life” and is eaten at practically every meal.  Sometimes if vegetables were scare, bread and tea may be the meal.  Even now, when you visit, you’re offered tea with bread of some kind.  Maybe a slice of homemade white or a buttered bun.   Bread is community.

That’s part of our history I want to share with you.  Come with me, grab a cup of tea, and we’ll journey together.

Where’s my Mummy?

mummy-cupcakes-3It’s the week before Halloween and I thought it would be fun to get a little Halloween dessert post in.  Of course, you’re probably inundated with pumpkin spice flavoured everything.  September had barely begun and I was pumpkin spiced out.  Drinks, cookies, breads, Kisses®, goodness knows what else.  I’ve even made a few pumpkin flavoured things myself, but I haven’t perfected the recipes yet, so it will have to wait for another post.

Growing up Halloween was a little questionable.  You never knew until the day of if you would have to wear your costume over your snowsuit or not.  More times than not there would be snow on the ground when you went trick or treating.  Sometimes a considerable amount.  When I was in grade one the snow plows had already been down the street to clear away the snow from the roads the week before Halloween, so my brother and I had to crawl over snow drifts to get to some folks’ doorways.  Didn’t stop us though.  Nothing will stop a youngster from getting candy.

Anyone remember these?

My brother and I donned our plastic masks with the elastic strap.  The mask would be worn for about five minutes until your warm breath made it too uncomfortable to wear.  Or your eyelashes had frozen to the inside of the mask because of the condensation.  Then you would have to pull the mask up over your toque so you wouldn’t feel suffocated.  Then the elastic would snap off because it was only held on by two staples on the sides of the mask.  Don’t forget the plastic costume which had to be bought a size larger than you needed because it had to fit over your snowsuit.  The costume was either a super hero or what was currently popular on television.  In reality it was a plastic bag with arms and the character’s picture on the chest.  Only the really well to do kids had homemade costumes.

So, my brother and I went up and down the street where we lived, walked to the doors of our neighbours and shouted “Trick or treat!” behind clammy plastic masks.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.  Free candy don’t ya know.

And occasionally you would get a homemade treat, usually a popcorn ball or goodie bag.  Nowadays those are automatically thrown out, but back then we all knew our neighbours and didn’t think any different.  With those memories I wanted to make something that you could give out to your trick-or-treaters this year maybe at a Halloween party or school.  These mummy cupcakes are easy and quick to make.  You don’t have to make the cake from scratch if you don’t want.  Just use a Devil’s food cake mix, but add a few more items.   It will provide a richer, denser cake and people will think it’s homemade.  I won’t tell if you won’t.

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine with the cake mix, your eggs, sour cream, melted butter and milk.  Mix until smooth.  Fill cupcakes liners 3/4 full.  Place batter in oven and drop the temperature to 325F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.  Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.  That way it won’t melt if you put the icing on too early.

In a clean mixing bowl combine the butter and shortening.  If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.  On low speed, add the icing sugar carefully.  Keep adding the icing sugar until you get about 5 cups in.  Then add the vanilla and milk.  This should smooth out any lumps.  Turn the mixer to medium and continue to mix until the frosting is light and fluffy.  If it seems too thick, just add a little more milk.

Are you my mummy?
Are you my mummy?

Add a layer of icing to the tops of the cooled cupcakes.  I used a Wilton 102 petal piping tip for my “bandages,” but you just use a plastic bag with the corner cut off.  It will work just as well.  Make crisscrossing bandages over the top of the cupcake.  Occasionally turn the cupcake so all the bandages are not going in the same direction.  Add two candy eyes and you’re done!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Mummy cupcakes

Quick and easy mummy cupcakes for all your boils and ghouls.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk

Buttercream icing

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 5-6 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl or stand mixer combine the following: cake mix, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and milk. Mix until smooth.
  2. Place in lined cupcake pan and fill each liner 3/4 full. Don't be tempted to overfill. I've made that mistake too many times. Place in oven and drop temperature to 325F. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick. Let cool completely.
  3. In clean mixing bowl combine the butter and shortening. Mix well and add the icing sugar slowly, unless you want your kitchen looking like the background to a white Christmas. Add vanilla and milk. Turn mixer to medium and mix until frosting is light and fluffy. Add milk if frosting seems too thick.
  4. On cooled cupcake, put a layer of white frosting. Using a piping bag with a Wilton 102 petal tip, or the cut end of a plastic bag, pipe bandages across the top of the cupcake. Remember to alternate directions to give it a random look. Add two candy eyes.

Apple Pandowdy

One of the things I love about the fall is the crispness that’s in the air.  It’s cool enough that you’ll still need a jacket, but not so cold that you need to bundled up to the gills.  That will come later.

canopy
Can you find my dog?

I took advantage of the lovely weather and took the dog for a little walk.  Nearby there’s a series of trails one can take.  Each trail varies in length from just under one kilometer to over three kilometers.  So not to long that halfway through you’re wondering “Why did I start this stupid hike in the first place?” The forest trails are a great place to contemplate life, or just enjoy the beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow.

Another great thing about fall is apples.  Yes, you can get apples all year ’round now, but fall there an abundance of great varieties that you usually don’t see for the rest of the year.  So, instead of just settling for the usual Gala, Red Delicious, or Granny Smith, there are great ones like Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, or Northern Spy.

As I was researching the previous post about molasses, I found a Apple Pandowdywonderful recipe called Apple Pandowdy.  It was printed in my copy of the all New Purity Cookbook.  This cookbook has been around Newfoundland kitchens for decades.  My grandmother has a well worn copy in her kitchen and I have mine.  I highly recommend it if you want a cookbook that will give the basics of cooking as well as a little bit of history.  Purity is a company in Newfoundland which makes a variety of desserts and snacks, and many other goodies.  Any Newfoundlander will tell you stories about growing up chewing on a piece of hard tack or jam-jams.

I’ve adapted the recipe from the one in the Purity Cookbook.  The great thing about this recipe is you can make it a day in advance and it won’t affect the taste in the slightest.  In fact it may be better.  The flavours would have had a chance to meld and blend and the sauce will be slightly less runny.

Molasses mixture
Sauce before mixing

First preheat your oven to 375F.   Then make the sauce.  Combine the molasses, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a saucepan.  Add one cup of water and heat on medium until the sauce thickens.  It should take five minutes or so.  Remove from the heat. Then add the butter one piece at a time and stir with a whisk until the butter is melted.  I cut my butter into four pieces so it would melt a little faster.  The add the vanilla and lemon juice.  The sauce should be thick, like a caramel.

Peeled apples
Peeled apples

Peel and slice 4 cups of apples.  I used four, but you may need more or less depending on the size of the apples.  Place in a greased 9 inch square baking dish.  Pour the sauce on the apples, trying to cover them completely.

Creamy sauce on apples
Creamy sauce on apples

Now to make the topping.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in the butter.  This is the same thing as when I made the scones, but the butter pieces should be finer.  Add the milk and beaten egg and combine.  The batter should be thick.

Biscuit topping
Biscuit topping

Scoop on top of the apples and spread out to cover the top.  Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving.  The crust can be “dowdied” or broken into smaller pieces and then served. Great with whipped cream or ice cream.

Look at that amazing creamy sauce.  The molasses gives it that unique taste of Newfoundland without making it too sweet.  The crust is fluffy and light and soaks up the sauce beautifully.  The perfect dessert after a crisp fall walk through the woods.

Enjoy this wonderful apple pandowdy!
Enjoy this wonderful apple pandowdy!

Apple Pandowdy

A rustic apple dessert with a lovely drop biscuit crust.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fancy molasses
  • 1/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 cups apples peeled and sliced. Use baking apples for firmer texture.

Biscuit topping

  • 1 1/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Blend together in a saucepan the molasses, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the water and heat on medium until mixture has come to a boil and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and add the butter pieces one piece at a time until each one is melted. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. Peel and slice 4 cups of apples. Slices can be about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange apple slices in a greased 9" square baking dish which is at least 2" deep.
  3. Pour sauce over apples, making sure to cover the apples as much as possible.
  4. Prepare biscuit dough. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in butter pieces with a pastry cutter or two forks, until the butter is finely incorporated. Add the milk and beaten egg and mix to make a soft dough batter. Drop with a spoon over fruit mixture. Spread evenly but do not stir.
  5. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 35-45 minutes until crust in golden brown. Cool slighty but serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

Molasses

Molasses has always been part of Newfoundland’s history.  Ever since we were a port of call for the English as they were trading in British West Indies, Newfoundland has had their fingers in molasses.

Molasses found it’s way in many homes and recipes.  Today you can find it in ‘lassy buns, pandowdy, and christmas pudding.  It’s also just used as a condiment in place of syrup.  It’s great for dipping your toutons or pouring over pancakes.  I used to make a sandwich of butter and molasses.  One slice of bread would get buttered while the other would get molasses.  It was a great snack after school when you couldn’t wait the two hours for dinner. Molasses also comes in different forms: fancy, cooking, and blackstrap.  The most common for cooking is fancy and blackstrap.

© Crosby's Molasses
© Crosby’s Molasses

Fancy molasses is the pure juice of the sugar cane, condensed, inverted and purified. It is 100% natural and contains no additives or preservatives. It is a bit lighter in colour than the other molasses products, and the flavour is tangy sweet.  Blackstrap Molasses is the highly-concentrated, final by-product of the refined sugar manufacturing process. As the sugar crystallizes, the residual cane juice thickens into a dark mass and is separated out through a centrifuge. The resulting molasses is very dark with a robust, somewhat bitter flavour. Like the fancy molasses, it is a pure product and contains no added sulphates or sulphites.

Molasses was big business in trade for Britain.  The colonial molasses trade occurred throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the British colonies of the Americas. Molasses was a major trading product.  It would shipped in large wooden barrels along with the rum and dried fish.  Back in the days of the general store, you could just go in a have them place a tap on the barrel and then pour out the amount you needed.  The ultimate in bulk shopping.

molasses-actMolasses was produced in sugar plantations in the Caribbean (also called the West Indies), in islands controlled by England (e.g., Jamaica and Barbados), Spain (e.g., Santo Domingo), and France (e.g., Martinique). The English colonies along the Atlantic (mainly the Thirteen Colonies) purchased molasses and used it to produce rum, primarily in distilleries in New England.  St. John’s, Newfoundland, was a port of call to and from England for supplies, so it would be natural for Newfoundlanders to sample the wares being shipped back to the motherland.

Newfoundland has its fair share of fish.  John Cabot has supposed said that he could walk on the waters in Newfoundland because it was so thick with cod.  For the better part of the last two hundred years, Newfoundlanders used to have cod as their main fish protein.  Cod was caught, filleted, salted, and dried.  This dried fish was sent to England and south to Jamaica.  In return Newfoundland got molasses and rum.  This is why Jamaica has plenty of salt fish in their diets and Newfoundlanders have molasses in theirs.

Then came the Molasses Act.  The Molasses Act of March 1733 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 6 Geo II. c. 13), which imposed a tax of six pence per gallon on imports of molasses from non-English colonies. Parliament created the act largely at the insistence of large plantation owners in the British West Indies. The Act was not passed for the purpose of raising revenue, but rather to regulate trade by making British products cheaper than those from the French West Indies. The Molasses Act greatly affected the significant colonial molasses trade. Molasses from the British West Indies, used in New England for making rum, was priced much higher than its competitors and they also had no need for the large quantities of lumber, fish, and other items offered by the colonies in exchange. The British West Indies in the first part of the 18th Century were the most important trading partner for Great Britain so Parliament was attentive to their requests. However, rather than acceding to the demands to prohibit the colonies from trading with the non-British islands, Parliament passed the prohibitively high tax on the colonies for the import of molasses from these islands.

Largely opposed by colonists, the tax was rarely paid, and smuggling to avoid it was prominent. If actually collected, the tax would have effectively closed that source to New England and destroyed much of the rum industry. Yet smuggling, bribery or intimidation of customs officials effectively nullified the law.  The growing corruption of local officials and disrespect for British Law caused by this act and others like it eventually led to the American Revolution in 1776. This Act was replaced by the Sugar Act in 1764.  This Act halved the tax rate, but was accompanied by British intent to actually collect the tax this time.

Who knew that the love of molasses (as well as fish and rum) would be part of the American Revolution?  Needless to say, our love of sugar hasn’t stopped and molasses has become one of the staples in the Newfoundland kitchen.

 

Cranberry Cinnamon Scones

If you are ever visiting friends or family on the island be ready to stay a while.  Newfoundlanders are the most welcoming and friendly folk.  More often than not you’ll hear these words or something close to it:

“D’jeet yet?”

“Any in ya?”

For the mainlander unaccustomed to the Newfoundland vernacular, let me explain.  The first is “Did you eat yet?” and the second is similar; asking if you had anything to eat lately.  It would be considered poor hospitality if someone who was visiting went away hungry.

While the conversation flows someone would put the kettle on to start water for tea, or, if you’re lucky, the tea would still be there from the morning’s brew.  Newfoundlanders like their tea strong.  It wouldn’t be unheard of to have a kettle on the stove with two or three bags thrown in and then another added every once in a while if the flavour goes down a bit.

When I was a kid I would have my tea in the morning for breakfast, fortified with two large teaspoons of sugar and enough milk added to make the tea a light caramel colour.  It almost more milk than tea, but it suited me fine.

The next would be “Giv’us a biscuit.”  And the platter of homemade biscuits would come out.  Tea biscuits would be the most common.  Sometimes they would made freehand or rolled out and cut out with a small glass dipped in flour.  It would be heaven to get one just out of the oven and covered in butter.  20161019_140914

For special occasions you would get a scone.  These are a bit more rich, being made with egg.  That’s the recipe I’ve made today.  Because the days are getting cooler, and I love the warmth of cinnamon, I’ve decided to make cranberry cinnamon scones.   These have a light taste of cinnamon combined with the sweet tangy cranberries.  You could use raisins if you like.

Preheat your oven to 450F and combine your flour, salt, baking powder,
sugar, 20161019_124555and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter.  You can use a pastry fork, two regular forks, or your hands.  I like to use my hands because I can feel the flour coating the butter pieces.  Plus I find it mixes more evenly this way.

BTW, this is a great starter recipe for children.  They love to get their hands into things and would love to feel the soft butter squish between their fingers.  I would recommend supervision, of course.20161019_125207

Add the cranberries and toss to coat.  In a small bowl combine the egg and milk and beat together.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients.  Using one hand, mix together.  I suggest one hand because this will be the time the phone will ring and then you’ll have a clean hand to answer it.  Mix until it forms a soft dough.  Turn out onto floured surface.  Hand form into a circle about 12″ in diameter.  Cut into 20161019_130824eighths.

Place onto greased cookie sheet or parchment or Silpat.  I like to have them separated a little so there’s enough room to grow and the sides get a crust.  You can place them together more if you like the sides softer.  Brush with milk and added crystalized sugar.  This is larger than granulated sugar and should be available at most grocery stores.  I got mine at Bulk Barn.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 450 oven until golden.  Let cool and serve with butter and jam.  Enjoy with your favourite tea.  Any in ya, yet?20161019_140855

Cranberry Cinnamon Scones

Cranberry Cinnamon Scones - perfect for a cool fall day.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine British, Canadian, English
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter cold, cut into small 1/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup craisins Can use raisins instead
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F Blend or sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut in finely the cold butter. Add craisins and toss gently to coat. 

  2. Combine egg and milk. Add to dry ingredients and combine together until a soft dough forms. 

  3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface a knead gently 6-8 times. Form into circle about 12" in diameter and 1/2" thick. Cut into eight wedges. 

  4. Place on greased baking sheet or Silpat. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Yield 8 scones.

Magic Memories

When I was a young boy I watched my grandmother make bread.  My grandparents didn’t have much money and even until the 1980s they had used a wood stove for heating the home and cooking.  Bread making was a weekly ritual and my grandmother would make 8-10 loaves at a time.  My mother is the eldest of twelve kids, so bread was always being consumed, usually for breakfast.

Bread is one of life’s great inventions.  Throw together some flour, salt, water, yeast and a few other ingredients, wait a while and bake it off.  You have this light, fluffy loaf with a crispy crust.  To a little boy watching his grandmother, it seemed almost magical.

My grandmother had a little help.  While she could have made thebreadroll bread from scratch, she had purchased Robin Hood’s Bread and Roll mix.  This premix is a great Newfoundland tradition. It’s so quick and easy and is still available today.  All you have to do is add water to the flour mixture with the yeast and you hav
e the best, and easiest, bread to make.

My grandmother next measured the water.  She would instinctively know how much water was needed just by how the dough felt.  She mixed her dough in a big yellow ceramic bowl, which is still found in most Newfoundland kitchens.  It was suggested to hold off a bit of the Bread and Roll mix and use it when you formed the dough into loaves so your dough wouldn’t stick to the counter.  So I would watch my grandmother add a little water to the dough, then add a little flour.  This went back and forth a few times until she could feel for the perfect consistency of the dough.

Any baker will tell you: the dough is alive.  Yes, it contains yeast, which is a living organism, but when you work with dough enough you begin to understand that the dough begins to come alive.  You can feel the sponginess.  You can smell the fermentation.  You can see the gluten begin to form.  You can even hear the lovely crackle as the bread comes out of the oven to cool.  Bread is life and alive at the same time.

multibread
My cousin’s multigrain bread

When the dough was ready, she would form the dough into loaves of three buns each.  My cousin still does this when she makes bread.  I really don’t know why it is formed that way, but it’s always the way I remember how bread at home was made.  When I first made bread in high school my teacher asked why and my answer: “That’s the way my grandmother makes it.”  It’s been a Newfoundland tradition.  If you were lucky though, there was a little dough left over.  Not enough to make another loaf, but enough to make toutons.

Toutons are a great way to use up the little leftover dough when you make bread.  They are essentially pan fried dough pieces.  They are really easy to make.  Traditionally they are fried in pork fat or butter, but with today’s non-stick pans you can just use a little cooking spray.  So, with your leftover dough you do the following:

Take a golf ball size of dough and roll it into a ball.  Then flatten the ball so you have a round piece of dough about 1/2 inch thick.  Preheat your frying pan under medium heat and spray with a little cooking spray.  You can use a cast iron pan if you have but it will take a little longer to warm up.  If you’re adventurous, use butter instead of cooking spray.  When the pan’s hot enough place the dough in to fry.  Only place three or four, and make sure they toutonsaren’t touching.  They will puff up a little bit when they cook.  Fry for a 2-3 minutes, checking to see if they are a lovely golden brown colour.  Flip over and cook the other side.  When done, serve with fancy molasses for dipping or butter and jam.

This treat is common to find across the province and if you visit the island and choose to stay at a bed and breakfast, you may get lucky and have them for a morning meal.  While this isn’t one of my personal recipes, I’ve made and enjoyed them many times.

Note: I have not been compensated with the Robin Hood company for mentioning their product.  It is mentioned because I genuinely like the product and use it personally.