It has been a while…like, four months a while. I have all the same excuses: New full-time job, new side gig (Amélie Bakery…more on that later), feeling under the weather multiple times and taking multiple COVID tests to rule it out.
But really, I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been wondering if keeping up this blog is worth it. Then, I was skimming the New York Times recently and I saw an article about the late Julie Powell. For those of you unfamiliar with Powell, she was the inspiration for the movie “Julie and Julia,” which was based on her story as a struggling admin in New York City who decided to start her own food blog about cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s famous cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
Sadly, Powell recently passed away at age 49. The article chronicles her life, but it also touches on the evolution of the food blog since 2003, when Powell started hers and cooked (almost) all Julia Child’s recipes. Back in 2003, which was actually seven years before I started this blog, food blogging was relatively new. People weren’t really specialized or branded the way they are now (think, blogs devoted to sourdough bread baking, or ones devoted to one kind of cuisine). As Julia Moskin writes in the NYT article, “Powell didn’t start blogging because she was a prescient media observer; she wasn’t trying to capitalize on the audience for digital food content…What Powell did possess was an understanding that starting out as a cook is a universal experience, and a voice that made every recipe sound like an adventure.”
Reading this article reminded me of why I started my blog in 2010. I had just moved back from France and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Also, I was trying to find my way as a baker and cook. Every recipe was truly an adventure to me back then because I had never made them before. My skills were almost zero, but my passion and drive were 100.
I go through times where writing this blog feels like a useless endeavor, because I wonder, how many people are actually reading it? I also think, is it worth it to set aside time to write when I have so many other things going on that demand my attention? Sometimes, when I’m stressed out or overloaded with work, the last thing I want to do is sit down at my laptop and write a blog post.
However, I’m beginning to realize that it’s the first thing I should do, because in writing this blog, I’m reaffirming my passion for food, cooking, and baking. It allows me to reconnect with myself and reflect on one of my greatest passions. It also reminds me that whether I’m making a recipe for the first time or the thirtieth time, it’s an adventure because I never know what’s going to happen next. The kitchen, like life, holds many surprises; some good, some bad, but ultimately, all teachable moments.
So that is my long-winded way of saying, I’m back, bébé. In honor of my return to blogging, I bring you these chocolate candied orange scones for your breakfast, brunch, or all-day pleasure. What I love about making scones is the process: You have to get kind of down and dirty if you’re really going to do it right. You might have a stand mixer on the counter and be tempted to use it, but I’d urge you to go the other direction and try make these mostly with your hands. It’s messy but so rewarding when you see the dough finally come together, and how the scones look when they’re right out of the oven.
Here’s a song to get you started on your chocolate candied orange scones journey.
Chocolate Candied Orange Scones
4 cups AP flour
5 Tbsp very cold butter, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
zest of one orange
75 g candied orange peel, finely chopped
75 g dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup of whole milk
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add the cold, cubed butter to the flour mixture and use your thumb and pointer finger to pinch it flat into the flour. Once all the pieces are flattened, use your hands to work the butter into the flour until the butter is in pieces the size of peas. Whisk in the salt, sugar, and orange zest. Toss in the chopped orange peel and dark chocolate, then add the milk. Use your hands and/or a wooden spoon or pastry cutter to combine the milk with the flour mixture until it forms a shaggy dough that holds together without any dry, flour-y pieces.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a round big enough to cut out 12-14 scones. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many scones as you can (I got about 14). Place the scones on the pre-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake them for about 12-14 minutes, or until they’re golden brown on top. Enjoy!