Let’s start with an easy recipe that was a bestseller at Lola’s. Fun because they’re colorful and popular because they taste great, M&M cookies appeal to everyone.
Want to see someone’s eyes light up? Just hand them one of these. 🙂
Before we get into the recipe, though, I’d like to mention something important about measuring.
You’re probably used to measuring your dry ingredients by volume — two cups of flour, for example.
On this blog the recipes are different: They list the major dry ingredients by weight first, followed by an approximate volume equivalent. If you have a kitchen scale, I urge you to use the weight measurements. You will get better results.
Baking is all about precision, and “one cup” means different things on different days for ingredients like flour (affected by humidity) and sugar (may be packed more or less tightly). If you measure by weight, you’ll eliminate most of the variability and produce more consistent baked goods.
[ Update: I’ve gathered my best cookie baking tips into a single post. Please read it before you start! ]
If you don’t have a scale — or if you’re baking away from home, like at a beach house — it’s fine to use the volume equivalents, of course. You may see differences from batch to batch, and I hope this inconsistency will convince you, ultimately, that a scale is the way to go.
These muffins are the the exact recipe we used at our bakery for years and sold at the farmers market on Saturdays. On the days we baked them, the bakery staff would put in dibs to see who could get any extras sometimes before they were even out of the oven because they are so good when they are warm that we never got tired of them.
I bake them in the jumbo muffin pans with jumbo muffin baking cups, both of which you can find at most grocery stores (or specialty baking aisles of craft stores if not).
I woke at 2 a.m., so wide awake that I couldn’t imagine ever falling back to sleep. I tried to envision calming music, but the only songs that came to mind were 120 b.p.m. — tunes for working out, not zoning out.
In the end, baking rescued me: If only I can sleep a bit, I resolved, I’ll get up early and make scones for my family. In an instant, peace descended on me: Scones …
Some people say scones are hard to make, but it’s not true. OK, so you need to know a few simple principles — but after that scones are quick and easy. A couple of tries and you’ll get the hang of it.
Beyond my pro tips, I’ll note this: Make these chocolate chip scones straight through, start to finish, and get them quickly into a preheated oven. Don’t take a phone call in the middle of things — how urgent could it be? Even the most harried of us have 15 continuous minutes, small kids and ADD notwithstanding. And that’s all the time it takes.
(I know from small kids and ADD, believe me.)
Cool scones in a hot oven, then 22 minutes to happiness. Simple, calm, perfection. I feel my tension fading away just writing about it.
These are magnificent when served warm, but also keep in the fridge for up to a week. Serve at room temp (or warmed up) for best enjoyment.
1lb flour (~4 ½ cups)
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup buttermilk powder
1 ½ sticks butter (cold, cut up)
1 ½ tsp lemon zest
between ¾ and 1 cup cold water
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups mini choc. chips
Ready? Easy-peasy. Put all the dry ingredients in to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cut in the butter in chunks about one tablespoon each in size, and put in the lemon zest, then run that mixer on the lowest setting for about 4 minutes.
Feel the flour-butter. You want it to be the texture roughly of wet sand. Big grains of butter pieces that are smaller than pea-size but not yet creamed. If you are there, continue to next step. If not, mix more until you get the right texture.
Now add the water and vanilla and stir again on the lowest speed until the dough just begins to come together. When it does, dump in the mini chocolate chips and stir until those are combined (I’m talking about a few more turns of the mixer), then STOP and take that batter out to a floured counter surface.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. I like to use a steel dough dividing tool for this and for cutting the scone wedges. Lightly flour each and pat into a ball, with a very light touch.
Shape each into a round about 5” in diameter. Cut into 6 wedges, sprinkle all with coarse sugar (“Sugar In The Raw”), place on a baking sheet that has parchment, a Silpat or has been greased, then bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes.
I’ve been baking at home now ever since I closed the little bakery that I proudly ran for 7+ years. It took a little while to get things set up to my satisfaction in our compact home kitchen, but I’m satisfied now. In some ways, I think that the size of my home kitchen makes it pretty perfect. For one thing, even at the bakery, we always made the most of every inch of space. Visitors generally marveled at how much we could produce in such a small (that was about 150 square feet?) space. Also, if my home kitchen is small, then, I know I can convince you that baking delicious and beautiful treats does not require a lot of space or a lot of equipment. I can show you what it does take, but first, I thought I’d start with a bit of inspiration.
Perhaps this will inspire you? Boston Cream Pie.
Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake, as you can see. It is made with vanilla cake, custard cream and chocolate ganache icing. None of these three are particularly hard to make and each of them can be made ahead so that on the day you assemble the cake, you actually only have to spend about 15-20 minutes.
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set on low speed. Stir it around until the butter is broken down, then turn it up to medium speed and beat it til creamy for about 3 minutes.
Now add your eggs one at a time on medium speed, beating for about 10 seconds after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla for another 10 seconds.
The dry ingredients need to be sifted together, then you add ⅓ of that to the mixer on LOW speed til it’s incorporated. You’ll add half of the milk next and then dry-wet-dry til you’ve got it all in there.
It may look done, but don’t assume it’s perfectly mixed. take the bowl out, scrape off the mixer paddle, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then run that mixer one more time to make sure it’s all really mixed in well with no butter spots that will mess up your nice cake.
Now you can scoop that in to your greased pans and bake it at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes (this can vary—do you have an oven thermometer?), until a cake-tester comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in pans before you try to remove them to racks.
After the cakes are cool to the touch, I wrap them in plastic and put them in the fridge for several hours so that they’ll be easy to level and stack (if you have not leveled cakes before, there are many useful videos on YouTube). In the photos here, you can see that I cut each of my cakes into two layers so I got four layers out of two cakes, just for fun.
I use this ganache for all kinds of things. It keeps in the fridge for weeks and can be warmed up again for many uses if you have extra.
2⅓ cups granulated sugar
1½ cups heavy cream
7½ oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons-size or smaller bits
1½ tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, stir together cream and sugar over medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes stirring occasionally.
Put chocolate, butter and vanilla in the bowl of stand mixer. When the cream/sugar mixture is done simmering, carefully pour it into the mixer bowl, then set the mixer in place and turn it on LOW for about 15 minutes.
You now have ganache. If you want to cool it more or aerate it more, you can beat it a bit, or if you want to use it warm, you can use it as it is. For the cake shown here, I made the ganache ahead, put it away in a plastic container in the fridge and took it out the next day to use. I scooped it from the bin with an ice-cream scoop into a sauce pan and heated it over the lowest possible heat until it was liquid but not boiling. Then I poured it on top of the cake.
I started by selling cookies at the farmers' market. Then, in 2006, I rented a few small rooms in an old Victorian building in historic downtown Leesburg, Virginia, and turned them into the bakery of my dreams.
We baked everything in our open kitchen using no preservatives and no artificial flavors — because that's how it tastes best.
Lola's was featured on The Rachael Ray Show and Fox 5 TV; in Washingtonian magazine and Northern Virginia magazine; and on the cover of Loudoun Magazine.
In 2013 our building was sold and converted to office spaces, so we closed — at least for the moment. So many customers asked for our recipes that I started this blog in response.