First things first. I know the holidays are upon us but…
Decorations? I am the happy recipient of a poinsettia. That is my decor so far. Christmas music? Other than Springsteen welcoming in the season of noel with a rousing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, it isn’t on my radar yet. That will change this coming weekend when I attend the Trail Band’s annual Christmas Show, an event that kicks off holiday tune time for me. Maybe I’ll be ready to pull out the Xmas boxes then, too.
Company alit last week so normal routine was put aside in favor of entertaining. Projects and reading material piled up on flat surfaces. Even Ken Ken puzzles lost favor. My attempts to write, equally dissolved. But I love having company. Though I am still winnowing my piles, putting everything aside gave me a chance to be fully present. Best of all I was able to get lots of holding time of my niece’s not-even-4-week old baby while baby’s mama shopped. I had forgotten that holding a newborn is like holding a magnet. Attraction happens! What a great way to meet people. Many folk of all ages approached to peer at the baby as I swayed, doing the baby rock. I had forgotten about the baby rock, too. It felt oddly familiar, like it had been just yesterday I was rocking my own babies…ha…they are in their 20’s, so it was hardly yesterday.
Besides babies, Bruce Springsteen and Pink Champagne Cake were also part of the conversation around my house last week. Bruce, because he played a fabulous concert here in Portland. Pink Champagne Cake, because my sister spotted a recipe for Champagne Cake in Julie Richardson’s newest cookbook Vintage Cakes. She was wondering if this could be the recipe of our childhood birthday cakes. Pink Champagne Cake was the choice birthday cake in our house when we were growing up.
Though I have more to say on these topics, the main reason I am here today is to post my recipe for Scuffins. I have no idea how close or far away my interpretation is to Frog Hollow’s recipe. As I said in my last blog posting, “it just isn’t the same eating a scuffin here vs. sitting bay side in San Francisco, watching the morning commuters striding off the ferries.” However, this does make a tasty treat. Next time I am in San Francisco I will compare.
I urge you to use a high quality, delicious jam or conserve for the filling. You want it to have some substance because if it is too thin or too little is used, it just soaks right into the dough when the scuffin is baking and that burst of fruit is gone. I have used an organic peach conserve that was terrific. I have also made these using my homemade raspberry nectarine jam with excellent results. My plan is to order some Frog Hollow Nectarine Conserve so that I can make scuffins for the holidays. Scuffins are also available by mail order but I’d rather put the money towards an airline ticket.
Scuffins ala me
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup graham flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cold unsalted butter (cut into slices or small cubes)
1 egg (2 if you want a more cake-like crumb)
½ cup heavy cream (or a little more if your dough seems too dry)
good quality jam or conserves of your choice (order from Frog Hollow)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin(s) with papers or lightly grease.
Whisk the flours, flax seed meal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl or pulse briefly in a food processor bowl. Cut in the butter using two knives, working quickly so the butter stays cold or if using a food processor, process in pulse mode, with quick starts and stops. The butter should be distributed fairly evenly and the mixture will resemble a coarse meal of oats and peas.
Stir the egg with the heavy cream and pour over the flour mixture. Using a fork, quickly stir, just until the liquid is incorporated. The dough will be rough and craggy and you will still see little clumps of butter.
If using the food processor, process for about 10 seconds. (I like to use my processor through adding the butter. After that I put the coarse mixture in a regular bowl and continue by hand.)
In a prepared muffin tin, spoon some of the clumpy dough into the muffin cups. Lightly pat into the cups, making sure the bottom is covered so the jam won’t leak. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the middle of the dough, about quarter-size (or larger for a larger muffin cup.) Fill with a generous spoonful or more of jam. Put more of the scuffin mix over the jam, covering it on top and on the sides. Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown. The baking time will vary depending on the size of the muffin cups.
Note: When trying to replicate Frog Hollow’s scuffin, my different variations used buttermilk, soy milk, flax seed vs. flax meal, several different flour variations, eggless, with 2 eggs, etc. The result of the above recipe met my taste memory the best. But, I could be wayyyyy off!
In case you are interested, I have a little bit more to say.
Regarding Bruce Springsteen…
It was my first time seeing him live. Oh my gosh, talk about a performer. He played nonstop for over 3 hours and during that time kept the audience totally engaged. Encouraged to dance, to sing along, to clap, the audience was voraciously soaking up all the energy put forward by Springsteen and his E Street Band. Some folk were even lucky enough to make it on stage to sing along with the “Boss.” I would have had severe stage fright myself but it was fun seeing others from the audience up there. Having long been a fan, I really don’t know why it has taken me this many years to finally get to one of his concerts. Regardless, I was pleased to see (and hear) that he can still crank out the tunes and put on a great concert.
Regarding Pink Champagne Cake…
So it was with my 3 sisters that the subject of Pink Champagne Cake came up. As I mentioned, Pink Champagne Cake was the birthday cake of choice in our house when we were growing up. It wasn’t homemade. My mother would order and buy the cake from a bakery in a nearby town. It seemed so exotic with its custard like filling and delicate, shaved icing. But one day that bakery up and closed and with it, the lovely Pink Champagne Cake disappeared. The one from Safeway just wasn’t the same or maybe our tastes were changing. Anyway the Pink Champagne cakes were soon replaced by other funky desserts like Hawaiian Cake.
But every year, I always remember the Pink Champagne cake on my birthday and I wonder if the custard filled cake tastes as good as the memory. Was it really made with champagne? And how was that pink flakey frosting made?
Thanks for reading! Photos next time!