Saturday, May 05, 2007

Blue Skies

It feels like it's been a few weeks -- and it probably has, because where did April go? -- since I baked something breakfasty, sweet, and tasty for my morning breaks.

But since my own copy of King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking arrived earlier this week, I've been itching to dive back in and try some other recipes. And what better way to start the weekend than by firing up the oven on a cloudy morning?

Torn between making scones and muffins, I finally decided on biscuits. (Yes, that's how my mind works on the weekends.) As I thumbed through the volume, I found a recipe for Parmesan-Pine Nut biscuits that sounded worthwhile. The only problem was, I had neither Parmesan nor pine nuts in the refrigerator.

Not to worry, though, as once again I decided to improvise wildly: I did still have a good-sized chunk of smoky blue cheese hanging around, and I always have walnuts, which go so well with blue cheese.

But that wasn't good enough. Remembering the combination of dried cranberries and blue cheese that I used to enjoy tossing into a loaf of white bread, I rummaged through the cupboards and pulled out the last of my dried blueberries (a gift from Michigan-based Mr. Nice Guy and his parents). And finally, I decided to pull it all together with a hint of orange, both in peel and juice.

Sound like overkill? I thought it might be, too, but I can assure you that all the flavors -- tart, tangy, sweet, deep -- worked well together in a mostly whole wheat biscuit that perked my morning right up.

Steaming hot, slathered with fresh country butter, and served with a cup of coffee, these biscuits certainly brightened my day, just as the sun started peeking through the clouds.

And you know, I think the forecast is calling for blue skies all week!

True Blue Biscuits

Years ago, a colleague introduced me to the idea of combining dried fruit with tangy blue cheese in my homemade bread, a melding of flavors that I still find very appealing, though I don't make that bread much any more. Still, the memory came in handy as I modified the Parmesan-Pine Nut Biscuit recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking to accommodate the contents of my cupboard. You could revert to the original recipe's suggestion of all milk for the dough, but I do like the hint of orange that the peel and juice bring to the berries and cheese. Serve warm... every time!

2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c unbleached flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried grated orange peel
1/2 c cold unsalted butter
1/4 c crumbled blue cheese
1/4 c chopped walnuts
1/4 c dried blueberries (cranberries would also work well)
1 large egg
1/4 c orange juice
1/2 to 3/4 c milk

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, whisking to keep the mixture light and airy. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the blue cheese, walnuts, and blueberries.

Beat egg with the orange juice and 1/2 c milk. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until evenly moistened. (If mixture doesn't hold together well, dribble in a little more milk.)

Turn dough out onto floured board or countertop, kneading gently a few times until dough holds together. Pat out dough until 3/4" thick, then cut into squares. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet.

Bake until tops are golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm. Allow remaining biscuits to cool, then store in airtight container.

Makes a dozen biscuits


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