Posts filed under baked sweets

It's Tea Time

Sweet Melissa's Orange Blossom and Honey Scones

  • 1 cup self-raising flower

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 oz butter

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tbsp whole milk

  • 1 tsp orange flower water

  • 1 generous tbsp honey


  1. Preheat oven to 200/395F C
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the egg, orange blossom water, honey and milk together with a pinch of salt and pour into the flour mixture - it may be a little dry so add a dash or so of milk.
  4. Combine until you have a smooth but fairly dry dough.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and press flat until a good inch thick.
  6. Using the rim of a glass cut out the scones and put them flour-side up on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Brush the tops with a little milk and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (I find they are done much closer to 10 than 15, but you could have a slow oven).
  8. Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve cold with clotted cream and cherry jam.
Posted on September 28, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, brunch, dessert, snacks, world travel.

The Fords Strawberry Shortcake

President 38: Gerald Ford

August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977

I can’t decide if being a kid in the White House would be the best or worst way to grow up. On a positive note, you are pretty much guaranteed Ivy League admission, unless you really mess up, and have a backstage pass to anything cool happening in the District. This comes with a price. Every time you smile and flash those braces and awkward break outs, the world knows.  You are at press conferences during your sleep-in times and state receptions when your friends are out buying beer with their fake IDs. From administration to administration, I am sure the kids of the White House have had varying opinions on their special treatment. One teen who embraced the role was Susan Ford, the youngest of the Ford kids. She hosted her Senior Prom in the East Room, frequented the in-house bowling alley, and, with her brothers, had the cooks whip up late night snacks. As the First Family pays their own grocery bill, thekids racked up quite the tab. Gerald Ford and his family had a unique experience in the White House from the get-go as they weren’t prepared at all for it.  After the resignation of Spiro Agnew and President Nixon, the Fords packed their bags and moved to Pennsylvania Avenue. His biggest task was to keep order in Washington and faith alive in the public. He had the distinct advantage of being able to conduct himself without the pressure of fulfilling campaign promises and being constantly tested by a public who didn’t elect him.  With his calm demeanor, President Ford fulfilled his duty and earned himself a positive place in the history books. 

As a family, the Fords were an extremely athletic bunch and kept their meals healthy and hearty.  For breakfast, it was normally English muffins and fruit. There is actually a famous picture of the President toasting his own, a planned photo opp.  For weekend brunches, it was waffles with sour cream and strawberries, flavors similar to our strawberry shortcake this week. The family normally ate dinner late, starting around nine pm, in the White House family dining room.  Jackie Kennedy had redone the space with shockingly expensive French wallpaper, complete with scenes of the French revolution.  Betty Ford had it replaced as the violence understandably ruined her appetite. President Ford’s favorite dinner was pork chops with stewed red cabbage and apples. Cabbage was his favorite. Mrs. Ford’s simple beef stew with walnuts recipe was also served often, including their anniversary every year. Their chef, Henry Haller, remembers the family as easy to please and approachable. It was this approachability, especially in Betty, that made her a brave advocate for breast cancer and, more famously, for addiction awareness. 

Desserts were not commonplace on the Ford table but this strawberry shortcake was requested by Susan on those days when a teenager just needs something sweet, no matter the cost. The President had sugar removed from the table and from almost everything in their diet in protest of its high price at the time. The Sugar Act of 1934, stemming from the Great Depression, made sugarcane a basic commodity and gave sugar farmers a pretty sweet subsidy to keep prices low. It expired in 1974. Economists coined the term “white gold” and until President Carter’s term, it stayed ridiculously expensive. When the price came back down, the nation shoved it in every packaged product we could find. This strawberry shortcake is well worth the indulgence. I have made some adjustments, including the use of coconut oil instead of butter and balsamic vinegar as a marinade for the strawberries. Weird you say? The tangy vinegar brings out the best flavor in the berries, making their full flavor shine. Just remember to add sugar to balance it out. 

Susan’s Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from the White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller

My changes are in Italics

  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Grated peel ½ lemon 
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 pints strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 additional Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar


  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 10-inch cake pan; dust lightly with flour. 
  • In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with the granulated sugar until fluffy. Transfer to the top of a double boiler.
  • Set over hot water and continue beating until doubled in bulk and thickened, about 7 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat. Continue beating until cooled. Fold in grated lemon peel.
  • Fold in one-third of the sifted flour; fold in one third of the coconut oil.
  • Repeat twice to fold in remaining flour and oil. Do not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on lower shelf of pre-heated over for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Let pan cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  • Turn cake out onto wire rack and let cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Cut strawberries into bite size pieces. Reserve several smaller berries for garnish. Add 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix and refrigerate overnight.
  • In acold mixing bowl, whip the cream with vanilla. 
  • Use a long serrated knife to slice cold cake horizontally. 
  • Spread the bottom layer with whipped cream and cover with the other cake layer, cut side down. Add ½ of the strawberries.
  • Frost entire cake with a thin layer of whipped cream, leaving enough to use for decoration. Garnish top with the rest of the strawberries. 


Posted on August 22, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, dessert, time travel.

Teddy Roosevelt: Chocolate Mousse for the Bull Moose

President 26: Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

 September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909

Let’s send Donald Trump on own of those outward bound wilderness trips and see how he fares. Since he is such a lover of reality TV perhaps a cameo on Naked and Afraid is the way to go? Let’s just make sure they black out his entire body. I’m sure that is what Melania does every night anyways.  We should throw in Sarah Palin as his teammate and they might last a solid five minutes. For all the self- proclaiming badass political types of our generation, may I introduce you to Teddy Roosevelt?

After McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt became the youngest President ever at the age of 42. By this time, Roosevelt had already authored a book on the War of 1812, had lived on a dude ranch in the Dakotas, served as Assistant Secretary to the Navy and had earned acclaim as a Rough Rider (alas not as a rapper but as a volunteer cavalryman in the Spanish-American War). He continued this achievement streak in office, by cracking down on corruption, establishing conservation efforts across the country, promoting the construction of the Panama Canal, and by achieving diversity in his staff appointments.  He was also heavily involved in foreign policy efforts, some for the better and some for the worst, and coined the phrase to “speak softly and carry a big stick”; a practice that has been all but forgotten in our age of angry tweets.

As for his palate, President Roosevelt and his brood of six children enjoyed the classics and kept to simple meals when the White House was not entertaining.  Teddy ate hard boiled eggs almost every morning for breakfast and enjoyed hominy, liver and bacon, freshly baked rolls, and other family classics with his brood. He wasn’t a teetotaler but only took a drink on occasion. His most exotic indulgences were foreign teas, notably caravan and hu-kwa, that he picked up on his travels. On those inescapable formal occasions, his team put together appropriately elaborate meals, almost always to include oysters.Compared to his predecessor’s laundry lists of courses, the Roosevelt household was not over the top.

In June 1906, the Washington Post seemed to have had a slow news day and published a column which criticized the first family for having extravagant dining practices. Teddy wrote to the Post the next day and addressed the attack. His retort included a detailed description of the White House’s menus and their buying practices, with the premise that “creating the widespread impression that the President and his family sit down to a four or five course breakfast, a six or seven course luncheon, and a ten-course dinner” was worthy of a response. He also added a dash of charming humor to the column’s assumptions that “every article of food that goes to the White House table is carefully inspected” noting that “the cook looks over the potatoes to see that no bad ones get into the pot”.  

 Sagamore Hill Sand Tarts with Chocolate Mousse

His real weakness at the dinner table was for sweets. No amount of sugar was too much for his palate, as he put seven lumps in his “bathtub sized” coffee cup. He then dunked these cookies straight in. Named “Sagamore Hill” Sand Tarts, after his beloved property on Oyster Bay in Long Island NY, this recipe was found scribbled on the inside cover of one of Edit Roosevelt’s many beloved cookbooks. Instead of coffee we are going with a dark chocolate mousse for dipping, in honor of Teddy’s break from the Republican Party to form the Bull Moose Party, or the “Progressive Party”, in 1912. Teddy called for limits on campaign contributions and raising the minimum wage for women. Yup, we are still talking about the same old stuff.  


·         1 cup butter

·         2 cups sugar

·         2 eggs

·         2 tsp vanilla extract

·         4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

·         cinnamon, to taste

Cream 1 cup butter until it is as smooth as mayonnaise. Then add 2 cups sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, one by one, beating after each addition. Beat in one additional egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir in 4 cups sifted flour. Mix again well. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board until quite thin. Cut with a 2 ½ inch cooky cutter. Then beat remaining egg white just enough to stir it up a big. Brush the egg white on top of the cookies. Sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake on a greased cooky sheet in a moderate (350° oven for about 8 minutes).

[Chocolate] Parfait

Adapted from: Rufus Estes’ Good Things to Eat, 1911

This mousse-like recipe is easy and from one of the most interesting cookbooks I have discovered on this journey. Born a slave, Rufus Estes, began working as a cook for the Pullman Company, a rail car manufacturer, following emancipation. He became the first African American rail chef to publish a cookbook, and the fifth African American to publish a cookbook nationwide. His recipes are easy to follow and concise, as he had to work his magic in tight galley kitchens as they clanked down the track. In celebration of Teddy’s love for travel, I thought it was perfect. I substituted 1 4.4 oz melted dark chocolate bar for the vanilla that Rufus Estes recommends and it worked splendidly.

 Cook a half cup each sugar and water over the fire until it threads. Do not stir after the sugar has dissolved. Beat the whites of three eggs until very stiff, pour the syrup slowly over it, beating constantly. [add melted chocolate bar]. Flavor with vanilla, and when cold fold in a pint of cream whipped stiff. Pour into a mold and pack. 

Posted on April 29, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, dessert, time travel.