Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Stochiometrical . . .

Has got to be one of the most unusual words ever to appear in a fantasy novel, wouldn’t you agree?

I laughed out loud when the concept of stochiometry and stochiometrical measurement appeared in Sarah Prineas’ story THE MAGIC THIEF: FOUND. I guess it’s not totally coincidental that her husband’s a physicist?

Anyway, great book, loved the way it ended, loved the resolution of the main problem. Didn’t see it coming. Way more interesting than a standard Good Guy Defeats Bad Guy resolution. And I’m glad that Conn didn’t . . . well, never mind! Don’t want to provide major spoilers.

Biscuits appear frequently in The Magic Thief! In honor of biscuits, let me provide a recipe for The Best Scones in the World:

COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

2 C. white whole wheat flour
1 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C. cold unsalted butter
1 C. sweetened shredded coconut
1 egg
1 1/4 C coconut milk (I like the Choakoh brand)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract
3/4 C top-quality bittersweet chocolate chips

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. You really need to cut in the butter if you want flaky scones. If you have one of those awful flimsy pastry cutters with round wires, throw it away and get a good sturdy one with flat blades. Anyway, whisk together the wet ingredients and add; stir just until evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips, which are given as optional, but trust me here, put them in.

Easy way to shape scones: spoon half the dough onto one end of a parchment-lined baking sheet and the other half onto the other end of the same baking sheet. Pat each half into a circle about 1/2 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Freeze. Cut each circle into 8 wedges after thoroughly frozen. Wrap in plastic and keep in freezer to store, or place wedges on a different parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. You can brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with more coconut before baking if you like.

Personally I want my scones freshly baked and warm, so I freeze the scones unbaked and bake as I want them. Surprisingly, you barely have to adjust baking times to do it this way.

Okay! Pick a leisurely Sunday morning and try these out. Then you can write and thank me.

Now, I didn’t make that recipe up, though I wish I had bragging rights to it! I got it from WHOLE GRAIN BAKING, this big handsome hardcover put out by The King Arthur Flour Company. I got it because I thought that it’d have lots of recipes in it that I didn’t already have in my other billion cookbooks, and I figured that KING ARTHUR FLOUR would publish great recipes. I was right on both counts!

Here’s another recipe from the same book that I just tried out the other day, when I suddenly decided to make a pumpkin bread pudding (one of the neighbors brought me a lot of butternut squash, so really a squash bread pudding) and I didn’t happen to have any good dense bread around.

I made this great bread which was really excellent for the bread pudding but also really excellent toasted and served with honey. Notice the orange juice in it? You don’t taste the orange. It’s there to compensate for the tannic bitterness of so much traditional whole wheat flour, so you really should use it if that’s the kind of flour you’re going to use. If you use white whole wheat, it doesn’t matter as much.

KING ARTHUR FLOUR’s NATURALLY SWEET WHEAT BREAD

2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp veg. oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 C. (packed) raisins (I used golden raisins)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 C milk, lukewarm
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
3/4 C rye or white rye flour (I used white rye)
1 1/2 C unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast

KING ARTHUR says process the liquid ingredients with the raisins and sugar until the raisins are finely ground. I didn’t, though maybe next time I will. I just tossed everything in the bread machine, set to whole wheat, and walked away. I did peek during the kneading and add a little more water. It came out a lovely, high, soft loaf. It did seem a shame to cube three quarters of the loaf and set it out to stale for the bread pudding. I’ll definitely make this again. Then, since I’m a carb fan, I’ll probably eat half the loaf instead of actually having supper.

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