Heart of home, hearth: fresh-from-the-oven treats

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The perfect start to the day ó fresh-baked scones.

Editorís note: Be sure to look for Valle this Sunday in her new spot as she shares all of the best recipes and gardening tips with her friends and neighbors.

Forty degree mornings tell us in no uncertain terms that fall is here. In high-country North Idaho, that means winter is not far behind. Thatís the bad news: The good news is that itís time to fire up the oven for fresh hot baking. Todayís column offers a primer of possibilities from breakfast to desert. Enjoy.

Our illustration starts the adventure with the ne plus ultra breakfast treat.

Gingerbread Raisin Scones

2 cups flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

6 T (3/4 stick) real organic butter, chilled, cut into pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 large egg

3 T unsulfured molasses

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease baking sheet. Blend first 6 ingredients by hand or in processor. Add butter and cut (or process) in until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In large bowl, beat milk, egg, molasses and vanilla to blend; add flour mixture and raisins.

Gently stir until dough forms ; gather into a ball and on lightly floured surface pat and press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges and place on prepared baking sheet.*

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Do not overbake.

* I generally lay the prepared disc on the prepared sheet and cut carefully with an ulu knife without separating wedges.

Following are two exceptional quick-bread recipes

Cheesy Dilly Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 T baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsps. dill weed

Fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 small onion, minced

1 egg

1 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease two 4x8-inch pans and set aside*. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients through the onion; mix, tossing well. In another bowl, mix egg and buttermilk and add to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to combine.

Spoon batter equally into the two pans and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then on a rack.

Oats and

Dates Bread

2 cups Medjool dates, pitted, chopped finely

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup pure cane sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 T baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme OR 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dates with orange juice and let soak while preparing remaining ingredients.

Grease two 4x8-inch bread pans*; set aside.

In a large bowl combine listed ingredients through the thyme. In a second bowl, blend buttermilk, eggs and oil.

Quickly stir liquid mixture into dry ingredients.

Add dates/orange juice mixture and stir in until just blended.

Spoon batter into pans evenly and bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then remove and finish cooling on rack.

** Remember, when baking quick-breads, you may choose to shape the dough into round loaves; just check for doneness carefully.

Too, you may opt for muffins ó as per our next recipe.

Sweet Potato

Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup pure cane sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes (3/4 pound), cooled and mashed

1 1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (3/4 pound)

1/2 Tbsp.. crumbled dried tarragon or sweet marjoram (NOT oregano).

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 2 muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir sweet potatoes, zucchini, tarragon and cinnamon into the oil and egg mixture.

Add the flour mixture and stir until blended. Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beautiful apples star on produce counters now. For a heavenly dessert, make this moist and delicious Scandinavian apple cake.

Apple-Walnut

Cake

4 cups peeled, cored, finely chopped cooking apples

1 cup cane sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

2/3 cup butter, melted

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon EACH baking powder and baking soda

ľ teaspoon EACH ground allspice and cardamom

1/8 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl combine apples, sugar, walnuts and melted butter; stir in eggs and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon and all remaining dry ingredients.

Mix well and add to apple mixture, stirring until just combined.

Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and pour in batter, spreading evenly.

Bake about 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes before serving warm. Garnish with fresh apple slices, more chopped walnuts, or powdered sugar, as desired (or serve in a bowl with rich cream).

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at bcdailybee@bonnercountydailybee.com. or by phone at 208-265-4688.

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