Quarantine Bake Along: Scallion Pancakes (蔥油餅, Cong You Bing)

My late grandpa used to make delicious scallion pancakes for our family. He taught my mom his recipe and she has been making them ever since. Growing up, I would often have them in the freezer at the ready. My mom would also bring them to me during her visits when I was in college. Scallion pancakes have gotten me through plenty of empty refrigerator/pantry times throughout the years.

I introduced these to J when we were dating, and now he probably likes them more than I do. I finally got around to asking my mom for the recipe so now I make them whenever we have extra scallions. They take a bit of time but it’s always nice to have a stack of scallion pancakes in the freezer for when you want a snack. We often eat them for breakfast with a fried egg too.

A Brief Scallion Pancake History

The scallion pancake has been around for so long and its origins have passed into myth, folklore, and guesswork. It’s difficult to tell where it was first created, but many of the tales point to Shanghai, China (where my dad is from!). The scallion pancake greatly resembles an Indian flatbread known as paratha. There is a story in China that suggests pizza is an adaptation of the scallion pancake, brought back to Italy by Marco Polo. Marco Polo missed scallion pancakes so much that when he was back in Italy, he tried to find chefs willing to make the pancake for him. Not finding success, Marco Polo suggested the filling be put on top rather than inside the dough. The change, by chance, created a dish that formed into today’s pizza.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or neutral oil
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Start by preparing the dough. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour and cup of boiling water with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a sticky dough forms. The dough should be sticky, but not wet.
  2. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it forms a cohesive, smooth dough. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Make the flour and oil roux by combining the oil, salt, and flour. It needs to have the consistency of a paste–continue adding more flour if needed to get desired consistency. Set aside.
  4. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece out into a thin circle. Next, take about 1 teaspoon of the roux and spread it across the entire circle of the dough. Take about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the chopped scallions and spread them generously and evenly over the roux.
  5. Next, roll the dough up into a log and then shape that log into a spiral (see photos). Using a rolling pin, roll out the spiral to desired thickness of pancake. Be gentle but don’t worry if the scallions tear through the layers. Just stuff them back in and keep rolling. Repeat with the rest.
  6. At this time, I’ll often stack the pancakes with layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper between each, stuff them into a plastic bag, and then freeze them for future use.
  7. When ready to cook, heat a pan over medium low heat until hot. Place the pancake in the pan. The pan should be hot enough so the dough is sizzling, but browning slowly. When the bottom is browned, turn the pancake over gently and let brown on the other side.
  8. Remove pancake and enjoy! If you like, now’s the time to sprinkle some extra salt on top to taste.

Quarantine Bake Along: M + H’s Savory Scones

Do these scones live up to the hype? I’d like to think so. They’re often the first item to sell out at my pop ups, the online shop, pretty much everything. People would come back into the pop up after leaving to tell me how much they loved them after taking a bite. Or come back to buy more. I’ve seen them recommended on Ann Arbor’s Reddit. It’s pretty funny and awesome.

I love them, but I also feel weird about saying that things are “the best.” I’m sure there are better scones out there but these are the best ones I’ve personally made and tried. Luckily for all, they’re very simple to make!

These scones veer away from the traditional English-style scones which are more on the crumbly and dry side. They’re incredibly rich and tender.

A Brief Scone History

Scones origins (in the early 1500s) were as Scottish quick bread that were made with oats and griddle-baked. As for the origin of the word “skone,” some say it comes from the Dutch word “schoonbrot,” which means beautiful bread, while others argue it comes from Stone of Destiny, where the Kings of Scotland were crowned. Scones became popular and an essential in England when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861), ordered the servants to bring tea and some sweet breads (including scones) one late afternoon. She was so delighted by this that she ordered it every day and is now what has become an English tradition: “Afternoon Tea Time.” They are still served daily with the traditional clotted cream topping in Britain.

Savory Scone Recipe

  • 2 cups (241g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (half stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (113g) coarsely grated or diced cheese
  • 1/3 cup chives or scallions (or 1 Tbsp dried herbs/seasonings)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, or enough to make the dough cohesive
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the middle to upper third. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly until the largest pieces are pea-sized. You can also do this with several pulses in the food processor.
  3. Mix in the cheese and seasonings until evenly distributed.
  4. Add cream, stirring to combine. Try kneading the dough together; if it’s crumbly and won’t hang together, or if there are crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl, add cream until the dough comes together. Transfer the shaggy dough to a work surface.
  5. Pat the dough into a smooth circle about 1″ thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges and place on the baking sheet about 2″ apart.
  6. Brush the scones with a bit of cream, milk, or butter; this will give a nice shiny crust. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes until they’re golden brown.
  8. Refrigerate any leftover scones, well wrapped, for several days; reheat before serving. Freeze for longer storage.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Serious Eats.

Baking Instructions

I needed a streamlined way to collect all the baking instructions for the things in my online shop, so here it is! Let me know if you have any questions.

Take + Bake Scone Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Remove scones from freezer and place on a lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush tops of scones with milk, cream, or butter for a nice shiny crust (optional).
  4. Bake scones for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Chocolate Cake Mix Instructions

  • 1 bag chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8″ cake round or line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. Dump the cake mix into a medium sized bowl. Add water, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix until everything is just combined. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 15-20 minutes (cupcakes) or 20-25 minutes (cake).
  4. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar or frost with your favorite frosting.

Brownie Mix Instructions

  • 1 bag brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch-square aluminum brownie pan with a long strip of parchment or foil to cover the bottom and two of the sides.
  2. When the oven has come to temperature, add the mix into a medium bowl. Add water, eggs, and vanilla extract, then stir until well combined. The batter will be lumpy and thick.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread into an even layer, and bake until the brownies are glossy, puffed, and firm but a little squishy, about 35 minutes.
  4. Allow the brownies to cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. To serve, gently tug on the foil or parchment, and lift to remove the brownies from the pan. Cut into 16 two-inch squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container up to 1 week at room temperature.

Pancake Mix Instructions

  • 1 bag pancake mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat an electric griddle to 350°F, or heat a large, nonstick skillet to a similar temperature on the stovetop.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk milk, egg, and vanilla extract until well-combined. Add the prepared pancake mix, and whisk until relatively smooth, although a few flecks may dot the batter.
  3. With a large scoop, divide batter in 1/3-cup portions (or as desired), and griddle until golden brown on either side, and cooked through the middle, about 90 seconds per side. Serve immediately.

Muffin Mix Instructions

  • 1 bag muffin mix
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with 6 liners.
  2. Add the muffin mix to a medium bowl. Add in milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. The batter will be very thick and dough-like.
  3. Divide into prepared muffin tins and bake until fully set but still pale, about 18-20 minutes.
  4. Let the muffins cool before eating. In an airtight container, they will last for 2-3 days.

Quarantine Bake Along: Biscotti

Biscotti is an Italian crunchy cookie often used for dunking in beverages like coffee or dessert wine. The name comes from medieval Latin for “twice-cooked”–the first bake as a log and then sliced and baked again until dry. I often remember seeing Nonni’s biscotti buckets in the grocery store growing up, but was never really fond of them due to how hard they were. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown in appreciation for more crunchy cookies and biscotti is on that list. I had never thought to make them on my own before (why?) but recently discovered this recipe for a more traditional almond and anise biscotti. They’re pretty endlessly customizable to your liking, which is nice during these times of pantry raiding. They also last up to 3 months which is great for when you want some survival cookies.

A Brief Biscotti History

The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds. Due to its second bake, biscotti’s hard, sturdy, and mold-resistent properties made it an ideal favorite to store for travelers. It wasn’t until the 1990s that biscotti became an American favorite and now you can find its many varieties in coffee shops, cafes, and stores.

Biscotti Recipe

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups, spooned)
  • 4 ounces sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 1/4 ounces nuts, toasted and roughly chopped (about 1 heaping cup)* See Variations
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In the bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, chopped nuts, and other flavorings if desired. Whisk to combine the ingredients thoroughly then add eggs and vanilla; continue to mix just long enough to form a soft dough.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly to bring dough together into a ball, then shape into a roughly 8-inch log. Transfer dough log to a parchment-lined half-sheet pan and continue rolling the log by hand until it is approximately 16 inches long. Gently flatten dough by hand until log is about 4 inches wide and just over 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Bake dough until puffed and firm to the touch and just beginning to brown around the very edges (though still pale overall), about 25 minutes. Cool directly on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and let cool 5 minutes more. While dough is still warm, use a long, thin, and very sharp serrated knife to cut log at a slight angle into about 25 pieces, each just over 1/2 inch wide.
  4. Arrange biscotti, cut sides up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet and continue baking until dry to the touch and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Flip biscotti over and continue baking for another 12 minutes. It’s normal for the timing to vary according to the biscotti’s size and thickness, as well as differences in oven temperature and airflow, so keep a close eye on them and adjust the bake time as needed.
  5. Cool biscotti to room temperature before serving. If desired, dip in chocolate. Biscotti will keep for about 3 months in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

Variations

Substitute chocolate chips or dried fruit in the same volume (one cup). You can also add any citrus zest to flavor the dough (orange, lemon, etc.), about 1 Tablespoon. Traditionally, biscotti has anise seed in it. You can add 2 teaspoons of chopped anise to the mix as well.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Quarantine Bake Along: Homemade Fresh Pasta

Making fresh pasta at home is a labor of love, especially if you don’t have a pasta roller (me). But machines didn’t exist from the beginning and I do love the art of slowing down and taking the time to make something in the kitchen, particularly now when we’re stuck at home. If you’re up for the task, the reward is a lovely fresh pasta noodle that need not be dressed with anything but some cheese, pepper, salt, and olive oil/butter.

Brief History of Pasta

It is believed that pasta as we know it made its way westward from Asia, perhaps by nomadic Arab traders. According to Culinary Lore, “There are written reports of ‘a food made from flour in the form of strings,’ in Sicily, described by an Arab trader named Idrisi in 1154. At the Spaghetti Museum in Pontedassio, Imperia, there are several documents from 1240, 1279, and 1284 which refer to pasta, maccheroni, and vermicelli as known foods.

Pasta Recipe

  • 200g 00 flour or all purpose flour (1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Make a well with the flour on your countertop (it’ll look like a volcano).
  2. Crack the eggs into the hole and using a fork, gently beat the eggs until they start incorporating into the flour.
  3. Continue mixing until the dough comes together into a rough ball. Knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. If really dry, add a little bit of water; if too sticky, add some more flour. The dough ball should be pretty stiff but slightly tacky.
  4. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes).
  5. At this point, feel free to use the dough with a pasta roller. If rolling by hand, divide the ball into 4 pieces. Cover the pieces when not in use.
  6. Roll the dough ball in one direction until very long and thin (about 1/16th inch, the thickness of a dime).
  7. Dust the rolled dough with flour and fold into thirds. Cut the dough into desired thickness using a sharp knife.
  8. Gently unfurl your noodles and toss with some flour to make a pile of noodles. Continue with the rest of the dough balls.
  9. If cooking immediately, bring some salted water to a boil and cook the noodles for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Use as desired.
  10. To dry pasta, hang the pasta noodles on a drying rack until fully dry then package up as use as desired.