Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cherry Scones at 7,000 feet

I spent last week in Santa Fe with the Boss Lady and Baby. We stayed in a pueblo style house up in the mountains, with vibrant lavender burgeoning in the front garden and an endless sky stretching on and on out the back door. Oh! it was beautiful.

Some days I could have sworn the sky was flirting with me. I mean, honestly, what am I supposed to make of this view?

Obviously take as many picture as humanly possible.

I took roughly 700 pictures that week, and most of them were of clouds.
I also took pictures of antique cars until my camera battery failed me (posting those in the future).
And I took pictures of these scones.

I think it's pretty clear what interests me; pretty clouds, pretty cars, and pretty food.

Baking at 7,000 feet above sea level is a different experience from the usual for this bayou city girl. Living that high in the clouds was a whole other adjustment.
The air was dry. I was thirsty all the time and my skin was uncontrollably thirsty too. My hands soaked up lotion; I would rub on two pumps worth of the stuff and in an hour I would need another dosing. The bottoms of my feet felt like Velcro sticking to the blankets when I got in bed. I was drinking water constantly
The air was thin. Dancing and running left me gasping and lightheaded. If I stood up too quickly after stretching, my head would feel like it would float away.
But that all made the fluffiest baked goods known to man. So it was a pretty even trade-off if you ask me.

Of course, there are ways to adjust for altitude in baking so that your end results maintain a certain standard no matter where you bake. I found a great little table chart from Pie in the Sky and High Altitude Baking.
I studied it well. Then I ignored it.
I had full intentions of following the chart, I swear. But when I got to the kitchen and found- after a good stint of exploring, searching, and nearly spelunking- there was no teaspoon, I gave up trying to exactly measure anything smaller than 2 tablespoons. The smallest measure that could be found was a 2 tablespoon measure. Anything smaller would have to be estimated.
So, I started my high altitude experiment with pancakes, estimating the measurements and not adjusting for altitude. I ended up with pancakes puffed high that melted in the mouth.
Then I moved onto scones.

Cherries were on sale at the grocery store, so we picked up a bag. I chose this recipe for fresh cherry scones from the Table for Two blog, but made up a different glaze from the top of my head.

Again, I had to estimate all amounts smaller than 2 tablespoons and did not adjust for altitude.
And, omaigoodness, these were good.

I'm sure they're great at other, lesser elevations, but at 7000 feet they were scone-clouds. Yum.
Julie from Table for Two uses an almond glaze for her scones, but I just can't bring myself to conform. That, and I couldn't find any almond extract (or almond anything) in the Santa Fe kitchen- even after spelunking in the pantry. I did find ground ginger and a couple cases of shockingly pungent ginger ale, though. Ginger + Ginger Ale = Ginger glaze for my cherry scones. I enjoyed the combination and, if you'd like to do the same, I suggest you follow Julie's recipe for glaze, substituting ginger ale for the milk and adding ground ginger to taste.

Let me know how these scones turn out for you at whatever altitude you find yourself baking in, and whether or not you adjusted for the elevation. We can make a grand experiment out of it. And give Mrs. Julie a visit as well, and tell her I sent you.

I have also discovered a new Saint- well, new to me. He lived in the 1500s.
St. Pascal Baylon; patron Saint of kitchens and cooks, a Fransican raised in poverty with a particular devotion the Eucharist. It's said that his pantry at the monastery was miraculously replenished.
"I joyfully celebrate the food I am given.
May it deeply nourish everyone I feed."

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