Home Made Iced Tea with Grenadine Syrup

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Spring is finally here and here to stay! A couple of weeks ago I finally decided to get one of those lounge furniture sets for my balcony in stead of a dining table. I’ve been wanting to change for a couple of years but somehow I thought we needed a dining table outside even if in the end we never ate outside….

So now I’m all for lounging outside in the sun. And even though I would love to have white or rosé wine all day long, it’s better to have a non-alcoholic drink on hand as well.

I think that home made iced tea is perfect on a sunny day. And you can always change it up with different teas or with different kinds of syrups/cordials, and you can sweeten it exactly to your own taste.

For this years first pitcher of home made iced tea, I made black tea that I sweetened with Grenadine Syrup.

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Ingredients:

3 tea bags of choice (or the equivalent in loose tea leaves)

240 ml (1 cup) of almost boiling water

120 ml (½ cup) of good quality grenadine syrup or your syrup/cordial of choice.

1, 5 litres (about 6 cups) of cold water

Ice

Method:

Make a strong tea concentrate of the 3 tea bags and the hot water. Let it cool, then add it to a large pitcher and mix in the grenadine syrup. Fill it up with ice and cold water, stir to mix and serve.

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Enjoy!

PS: I just realised that this is the first recipe completely without butter :-P!

Soft Pretzels

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I’m so sorry for the lack of posts lately, I was really only planning to take one week off during the winter holidays, but then I cut my finger so that I couldn’t really cook and then it was difficult getting back in the saddle – I’m sure you all know how that goes.

Anyway – soft pretzels. Who doesn’t love them? My daughter love them even more than I do, so I decided to make them for her, first and foremost. Here in Switzerland we eat them mostly plain or with butter (duh, in our case), but you also see them filled like a sandwich with cheese or ham or both.

The recipe is taken from my trusted Browned Eyed Baker, only tweaked here and there with the measurements. Head over to her site if you need the recipe in cups and ounces.

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SOFT PRETZELS

Ingredients

360 ml warm water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast (7 grams)

about 600 grams flour

60 grams of butter, melted

 

2.5 litres of water

90 grams baking soda

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash

coarse salt for sprinkling (I used fleur de sel)

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Method:

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, the sugar and the salt and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and the butter, mix on low with the hook attachment until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. 

Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 230 ° C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Pour the 2.5 litres of water into a large, wide pot (I used a Dutch oven), add the baking soda and bring to a boil. 

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough to a rope, about 50 cm. Form a pretzel by holding each end of the rope, make a U-shape, cross them over each other and press them onto the bottom of the U. Place them onto the parchment lined baking sheets. 

Carefully place the pretzels into the boiling water, 2-3 at a time (or how many will fit comfortably in your pot), for about 30 seconds. Remove them using a large slotted spoon, place them back on the baking sheet. Brush the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.

Bake for about 12-14 minutes until dark golden brown in colour. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling before serving.

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Enjoy!

Heart Shaped Brownies for Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you share these with your significant other, with friends and family or simply keep them to yourself.

I knew I wanted to make something for Valentine’s Day, and when I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to make heart shaped brownies. I haven’t been making brownies for years, but I took Ree’s word for it that they were delicious, and they are. They are very rich and decadent, though, so a little goes a long way, but they are perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Dark Chocolate Brownies

(slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman, head over to her site to get the recipe in cups and ounces)

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Ingredients:

225 grams butter

150 grams dark chocolate

35 grams cocoa powder

350 grams sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

175 grams flour

120 grams dark chocolate chips

Powdered sugar for decorating

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Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 °C. Grease or line a square (I used 23×23 cm) baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over low heat, stir occasionally until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. 

Add the sugar and vanilla and stir to combine, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time.

Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated, then add the chocolate chips and just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread out to even out the top and place it in the oven.

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Bake for about 40 minutes. Insert a wooden skewer to the middle of the brownie, if it’s overly gooey, let it bake for 5-10 minutes more. 

Allow to cool completely, then sift some powdered sugar over the brownies. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes or cut into squares.

When they are still warm, the brownies will seem overly gooey and soft, but as they cool, they will firm up. Ree says they are best served several hours after baking or even the next day.

Enjoy!

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Again, these brownies are rich and decadent and chocolate-y, so a little goes a long way.

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Chocolate Macarons

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In general, I’m not afraid of trying new things. I’m not adventurous, but I’m not afraid to try new stuff in the kitchen or craft projects. The first time I try something new, something that might seem daring or difficult, I just concentrate, follow the recipe or the instructions to the T and hope for the best. If it doesn’t turn out, I toss it in the bin and wait a few months before trying again.

So when the macaron craze popped up a few years ago, I decided to give it a try. If I remember well, the first batch was perfect, but the 2nd and 3rd didn’t turn out the way I wanted. So I went back to follow the recipe step by step and that’s when the macarons turn out perfect every time. Also, this is one of the recipes where you need a scale in order to get the proportions right.

What’s so fun with macarons is that there are so many flavours you can make, and you can mix and match almost endlessly.

This time, I made simple Chocolate Macarons, as I was making them for a friend’s birthday, one who’s a real Chocoholic, and therefore also filled them with a chocolate ganache.

Recipe and method taken from Tartelette. She made a tutorial called “Demystifying Macarons

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Ingredients:

90 grams egg whites (from about 3 eggs), at room temperature

pinch of salt

30 grams granulated sugar

185 grams powdered sugar

15 grams cocoa powder

110 grams almond meal (finely ground almonds)

Ingredients for the ganache:

200 grams chocolate (I used a mix of dark and milk chocolate in this case), chopped

100 ml cream

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Method:

If you have a food processor, blitz the already ground almonds to make a really fine almond meal, then add the powdered sugar and blitz again until the two ingredients a finely mixed together. Sift this mixture through a fine mesh sieve, then set aside.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until you have a firm, glossy meringue.

Add the almond mixture to the egg whites at a time and carefully fold them in with a rubber spatula, a couple of quick strokes first, then slow down. The mixture should flow like magma. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes (I counted the first couple of times, then you get a feel for it). If you are not sure, place a bit of the mixture on a plate – if the top flattens on it’s own, you are good to go, if not, give the mixture a couple of more turns with the spatula. Be careful not to over mix.

Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. I usually turn the baking sheets upside down and place my silicone mats on top. This ensures a more flat surface to pipe your macarons on.

Fill your mixture in to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (0.5 cm diameter), and pipe small rounds (about 3-4 cm) onto the prepared baking sheets.  Let the macarons sit on the counter for 45 minutes to one hour before baking in order to harden the shells.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160 ° C (or if you have an convection oven, preheat to 140 ° C). Bake the macaron shells for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. If you use a convection oven, you can bake all 2-3 sheets at the same time).

Let the shells cool completely, and place them in the refrigerator for 48 hours. This will give the macarons the crisp shell and chewy centre. Alternatively, you can make them ahead and freeze them until you need them.

To make the ganache, slowly heat the cream until it’s almost boiling. Take away from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then stir to incorporate and mix until smooth. Set aside until cool.

To assemble the macarons, line them up two by two, then pipe or spoon some of your ganache onto one of the shells, and sandwich them together with another.

And now – enjoy!

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Best Buttermilk Pancakes

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When I just started working, I was lucky and found a job in the Airline Industry. It was exiting and also a bit glamorous at the time, and the best thing about it, was that we had access to cheap (although stand-by) flights all over the world. My friend M. had relocated back to California, so I frequently went to visit her.

One of the best things about visiting her, was that we “always” went out for breakfast. Usually we went to a local breakfast place in Laguna and I would always order stuff that I wouldn’t find in Switzerland. So it was mostly pancakes or French toast. I was never able to recreate that perfect fluffiness that makes the American pancakes until this recipe – so they are truly the best buttermilk pancakes!

Personally, I think that pancakes are best when someone makes them for you, so maybe you could get your significant other to make them for you this weekend? Or, of course, since Valentine’s Day is coming up in a week – what better way to show your love than surprise your significant other with them?

The recipe is adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker, head over to her site if you need the recipe in cups and ounces.

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Best Buttermilk Pancakes

280 grams flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

480 ml buttermilk

50 grams sour cream

2 eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

oil or butter to grease the pan

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Method:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, the eggs and the melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix gently until just combined, but do not over mix. Allow the batter to rest for about 10 minutes before cooking your pancakes.

I use a ⅓ cup measure to scoop batter into the pan, cook until the edges are set and the first side is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the second side is golden brown. Serve immediately, with lot’s of maple syrup and a little bit of butter.

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Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

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I’ve been wanting to make something with peanut butter for a while. I have the feeling that I am the only person in Switzerland who likes peanut butter, but of course that’s not true, they do sell it in every grocery store. I was originally going for home made peanut butter cups, but when I was so incredibly graciously gifted with Hershey’s kisses for Christmas (Thank you so much, M & D!), I decided that I wanted to make those cute Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies.

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I didn’t want to use all the Hershey’s kisses for baking (since we don’t have them here in Switzerland), so I left some of the cookies bare at first, decorating them with melted chocolate once cooled.

I don’t know how many of you out there like peanut butter but if you like it just a little bit, you should try these. Those of you who have unlimited access to Hershey’s kisses, you should definitely try these. I used a recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker, but substituted the shortening for butter (obviously….). Head over to her site if you want the original recipe and/or if you want the recipe in cups and ounces.

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Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Ingredients

48 Hershey’s kisses, unwrapped

113 grams butter, softened

150 grams peanut butter

125 grams light brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

210 grams flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Sugar to roll the cookies in

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Method:

Preheat oven to 190° C.

In a medium bowl or using you stand mixer, cream the butter and the peanut butter together until well combined. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, the milk and the vanilla extract, mix well. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned. Immediately press one Hershey’s kiss into the centre of each cookie. The cookie will crack around the edges. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

Cinnamon Knots

 

SONY DSCIsn’t there something about the smell of a sweet yeasted dough in your kitchen that oozes comfort? And if you pair it with cinnamon, all you want to do is to curl up on your couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate to accompany your afternoon snack. Right? Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I love this version of cinnamon buns. They look so delicate, almost like a blossom, kind of sophisticated. But the taste is just as comforting as your preferred blanket – these will make your day. They freeze very well, so you don’t have to eat all at once – and you have one ready in no time should you be in need of a pick-me-up!

I used the same yeasted dough recipe as for the King’s Cake, just because it was so easy to make, but also so so delicious. I just omitted the raisins and added a teaspoon of cardamom, which will give the taste more depth, and it compliments the cinnamon very well.

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Cinnamon Knots

Ingredients

75 grams butter, melted

300 ml milk

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

30 grams yeast (I used a 7 grams packet of dry yeast)

approximately 500 grams flour

For the filling:

100 grams butter, softened

25 grams sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

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Method:

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, the salt, the dry yeast, the cardamom and most of the flour. In a large measuring cup, mix together the milk and the melted butter. The mixture should not be too hot. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and lightly knead until you have a smooth dough (I used the dough hook on my stand mixer for this). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one hour.

After one hour, push down the dough  without really kneading it , cover it again with plastic wrap and let it rise again until double in size, about one hour.

In the meantime, mix together the softened butter with the sugar and cinnamon in bowl, set aside.

Preheat your oven to 200° C

When the dough is risen, turn it out on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle about 50 x 30 cm. Spread the cinnamon-sugar-butter onto the surface, then fold the dough over lengthwise. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut strips of the dough. 

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Twist and turn each strip of dough a couple of times, then wrap the twisted strip of dough around your fingers before securing the end by pushing it down the top. I just realised that it sounds very complicated. There’s a video here (in Norwegian, but you will get the point) that shows it.

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Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a clean tea towel and let them rest for about 20-30 minutes.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. 

If you’re like me, you can sprinkle some royal icing on top for decoration. 

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Roulade

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Each weekend, I usually bake something for our afternoon tea/coffee – or le goutér as they say in French. Since I started blogging, I usually take the opportunity try new recipes before they appear on the blog. For some reason, I really craved a swiss roll style cake. Maybe because they seem to come back in style, I’ve seen many other food bloggers featuring them lately.

So I flipped through my books and found this easy Chocolate Roulade that looked delicious and that was le goutér of the day. I really was delicious, just the right amount of chocolate and cream.  Most Swiss Roll Cakes I have made have cracked, which is probably why I haven’t made them much, but this one was easy to roll – I’m definitely making this again!

I have a half sheet pan so I decided to halve the recipe, but the measurements below are for a full size roulade. As always, I adapted it slightly to my own taste.

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Chocolate Roulade

Ingredients:

175 grams dark chocolate, broken into pieces

175 grams sugar

6 large eggs, separated

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

For the filling:

300 ml heavy whipping cream

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Lightly grease your jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper, making sure to push the parchment well into the corner to prevent creases.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over low heat, then set aside to allow to cool slightly.

Put the egg yolks and the sugar in the mixer bowl of your stand mixer and whip until pale and fluffy – this will take several minutes. Add the melted chocolate and the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.

In a separate medium bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add a spoonful of the egg whites to the egg yolk/sugar/chocolate mixture and mix to break them up and lighten the dough, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and gently level the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Remove the cake from the oven, but leave it in the pan. Place the cooling rack on top of the pan and cover it with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave it to cool for several hours or overnight. If the towel dries out, re-dampen it. The cake will shrink slightly.

When the cake is completely cool, whip the cream for the filling until it holds it shape.

Dust a large piece of parchment paper with powdered sugar. Turn the roulade onto  paper and peel of the paper that lined the pan.

Spread the whipped cream over the cake and roll it up from the short end. Use the paper to help if needed. Place it with the seam down on a plate and dust with powdered sugar.

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Enjoy!

 

Muesli Cookies

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I’m continuing on the healthy path for one more post. I’ve been wanting to make these cookies since I saw them in Dorie Greenspans “Baking” cookbook a couple of years ago, but never got around to it before now. And I’m so glad I finally made them! They are surprisingly good and will definitely be on my regular rotation of cookies. They are the right mix between chewy and soft and sweet and substantial and filling. I think I will try different mixes of dried fruits and nuts, I imagine dried cranberries would be awesome. Hope you will like them as much as I do.

One of my favourite bloggers, The Brown Eyed Baker, adapted them on her blog last January and I wanted to go with her recipe. But then I started making them and before I knew it I had adapted the recipe even more. I often tweak recipes when I convert them from cups/ounces to grams and millilitres, but this time I discovered I didn’t have everything needed and I was too lazy to go to the store. So this is my version below.

Muesli is a Swiss invention (read about it here), and seeing that I live in Switzerland I should make an effort to make more Swiss recipes for my blog. I’ll do my best, and I start right now.

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Muesli Cookies

Ingredients:

210 grams butter, at room temperature

150 grams light brown sugar

300 grams muesli, without raisins or nuts

140 grams flour

15 grams wheat germ

100 grams raisins

75 grams mixed nuts (or nuts of your choice), chopped

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 190° C.

In a medium or large bowl, mix together the muesli, the raisins, the nuts and the wheat germ.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on low, then add the sugar and continue to beat the two together until creamy. Add the egg and the salt and mix on medium speed until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until incorporated, then slowly add the muesli mixture. Mix on low until the muesli is incorporated. The dough will be very firm.

Scoop out balls of dough, and roll them between your palms to form a ball, then flatten it out on the parchment paper or silicone mat that lines your cookie sheets. The dough should make about 24 cookies, that’s when you know you have the right size.

Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. They should be golden but still soft. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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I ate one while it was still warm, and with a cup of coffee. Delicious!

Enjoy!

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Plain Scones

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I thought I would at least make an effort to avoid the really decadent stuff so early in January. While I do eat more sweets and cakes and desserts during the holiday than otherwise during the year, I don’t usually put on weight before the end of the winter.:-( . Oh well, here’s to hoping this year will be different. Anyway, I’m trying to hold the cream cheese frostings and ganache fillings at least for a couple of weeks.

These scones are perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea with some jam, slightly warm from the oven, slathered in butter (or hold the butter if you’re trying to cut back on the fat)… The recipe is slightly adapted from Mary Berry.

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Plain Scones

Ingredients:

450 grams flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

75 grams butter, at room temperature

50 grams sugar

2 large eggs

about 225 ml milk

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 220° C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt and the baking powder to ensure there. Cut or rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

In a large measuring jug, beat together the eggs, then pour in enough milk to make it up to the 300 ml mark. Set aside about 2 tablespoons to glaze the scones with before baking.

Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until you have a soft dough. It is better that the dough is on the sticky side, as the scones then will rise better.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it with your hand to a thickness of about 1-2 cm. Use a 5 cm fluted cutter to stamp out the scones by pushing the cutter straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting it) and then lift it straight out. This ensures that the scones will rise evenly and keep their shape. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead lightly, flatten again with your hand and cut more scones. Repeat as needed.

Place the scones on lightly greased cookie sheets and brush with the remaining egg wash. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool, cover them with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.

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Serve them with lot’s of butter and a little bit of jam, or however you prefer them.

Enjoy!

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