Sunday, January 30, 2011

Apple Cheddar Scones

Every now and then I come across a recipe that looks so delicious that I need to try it immediately. And still, somehow, it takes me a long while to get around to most of them (like this one). I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen back in October and knew it would be a winner, but didn't get around to it until last week (this was my second batch!). It's a little sad because I know how perfect this scone would be for the fall. But I suppose its flavor is hardly diminished by waiting until winter. Obviously we like them, since the best final product picture I could get had a bite taken out of it. You're lucky Jeff showed restraint - mine was half gone before I realized I hadn't taken the picture.

I'm a fan of scones, in general (the tender, flaky ones you make at home, not the hard, crumbly ones served at many cafes), and yet I rarely ever make them for myself. My grandmother loves scones, so I've gotten in the habit of baking them for her, and not saving any for myself. This recipe has assured that they will come up in my own rotation more often.

Apple and cheddar is such a great combination. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with these - would they be sweet or savory? My conclusion is that they're still sweet. Even the tartest of apples sweetens up when roasted, and the sugar inside also seals the deal. And yet there is cheese. The cheddar is the first flavor to hit your tongue (especially any cheese that's migrated to the bottom and gotten golden-brown and crispy). After that, there's tender butteriness and sweet apple. It's a good way to start or end any day.

The one part of the recipe that scared me off a bit was Deb's comment that these taste amazing the first day, ok the second and terrible the third. I didn't want to do all this work and end up with bad-tasting scones, so I have been freezing them and only baking what I'm about to eat. They freeze really well - just toss them right on the baking sheet and add a few minutes to the cooking time. That way you'll have the delicious right-out-of-the-oven flavor every time. The step I've been haphazard about is the egg wash. I did it the first few times, but I only remembered to sprinkle on sugar once. Since I wasn't baking them all at once, I put the egg wash in a tupperware in the fridge to use when I needed it. While this was a good plan, adding salt to the egg first was not. I think the salt caused the egg to spoil somehow - it was a terrible color the next day, although it smelled ok. I still didn't use it. This time around, I'm skipping the salt entirely and storing the egg by itself. But the long and short of this is that I can attest that the scones are delicious whether or not the egg wash is used. You decide whether you want to put in the extra effort for a golden-brown finish. For me, I think it will depend on how much energy I have and how many vessels I want to wash!

Apple Cheddar Scones
From Smitten Kitchen.

1 lb tart apples (the original recipe said 2, but I used 3 - definitely depends on the apple)
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 c sharp white cheddar, shredded (the color may just be for aesthetics - I'm sure yellow would be ok)
1/4 c heavy cream
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut into sixteenths. (I estimated this - I don't have a corer, so I could not quarter the apple effectively - and it worked fine. My chunks were probably a bit smaller than called for.) Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until dry to the touch. Let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Place small chunks of butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, along with cooled apple, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle dry mixture on top. (If you don't have a stand mixer, I'd suggest cutting the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry blender and then stirring in the rest of the wet ingredients.) Mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Try not to overmix - you'll get tough scones. (Yes, the dough is going to be pretty gooey.)

Flour the countertop and a rolling pin. Form the dough into a rough circle and then roll into a 6", 1 1/4" thick circle (I made mine a bit thinner and larger in diameter, so I could get more scones out of it).

Using a dough scraper or pizza cutter (at least, I think those would work best), cut the circle into 6-8 wedges. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (not the same parchment as before). (If you intend to freeze the scones, this is where you should put the whole baking sheet into the freezer. Then, once they're frozen through, transfer the scones to a tupperware or wrap them individually in foil.)

When you're ready to bake some scones, beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt (as mentioned above, I think this is optional, especially if you intend to save the egg wash). Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes until firm and golden (since I've been making one at a time and mine are a bit smaller, 25 minutes has been enough). You can cool them before serving, but I've been eating them right out of the oven!

1 comment:

  1. if only you didn't live so far away...