Friday, October 15, 2010

apple and cheddar scones

apple and cheddar scones

This is pretty much October on a parchment-lined baking sheet. They want to be packed in a basket so they can go apple picking with you and to sneak in the car to join you for a leaf-peeping drive. They want to come to brunch with you and deserve to be served with warm apple cider, whether getting lost in a corn maze or searching for the best pumpkin to carve.

countertop
peeled
partially roasted apples

Have we spoken this week? If we have, I’ve probably gone on and on about them, about how I never really was into that whole apple-cheddar thing but these, these changed things. They’re absolutely fantastic. They’re from The Perfect Finish, which is a dessert cookbook by Bill Yosses, who is now the executive pastry chef at The White House (but not when he wrote this) and Melissa Clark, who I suspect you’re already quite fond of. When I first saw the recipe, I rejected it as fussy for making you roast apples (in one-sixteenths!) just to let a stand mixer bang them up. I snorted over how chefs always like to boast that their recipes are “fairly simple” for home cooks but then use weights measured to the one hundredth of a gram, fooling nobody.

sifted

cheddar and dry ingredients

And then I made them. And I shut up because these are blissful. Just a little sweet with a shaggy sugared lid, a not-too-intensely cheddar background with random chunks of baked apples throughout. All that! In a scone. Oof, I’m obsessed and about to make my third batch because I don’t think I’ll be able to go anywhere this weekend without some, fresh from the oven. Suddenly, it wouldn’t be October without them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

apple-chunked dough
patted out
apple cheddar scone

One year ago: [To the day, I also made a cheddar based scone]
Two years ago: Noodle Kugel, Meatballs and Spaghetti
Three years ago: Hello Dolly Bars and Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Four years ago: Classic Brownies

Apple and Cheddar Scones
Barely tweaked from The Perfect Finish

Makes 6 generous scones

2 firm tart apples (1 pound or 2 454 grams)
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces or 195 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling (total of 2.2 ounces or 63 grams)
1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (3 grams) plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams)unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes plus additional for baking sheet if not lining it with parchment
1/2 cup (2.25 ounces or 65 grams) sharp cheddar, shredded (white is recommended, I assume for aesthetics)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
2 large eggs

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into one-sixteenths. (I assumed this meant chunks, not slivers.) Placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. (You can speed this up in the fridge, as I did.) Leave oven on.

Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.

[Don't have a stand or hand mixer? I'd rub the cold butter into the flour mixture with my fingertips or with a pastry blender, hand-chop the apples coarsely and mix the rest together with a wooden spoon until combined. It might feel awkward, but it should all come together. Again, don't overmix it though it will be harder to do this by hand.]

Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it. Sprinkle with flour. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (or use your hands to pat) the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has either been buttered or lined with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Before you eat one, make sure you realize how addictive they might be. Once you’ve got that down, go for it anyway.

Do ahead: Scones are best the day they are baked. However, they can be made ahead of time and stored unbaked in the freezer until you need them. Simply brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar, and bake them still frozen for just a couple extra minutes. This way they are always freshly baked when you want them. These scones were passable on day two and terrible on day three.


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