Friday, September 16, 2011

Apple Cheddar Scones

I am a regular reader of Smitten Kitchen, a lovely cooking blog that you should totally be reading if you aren't already, if only for the gorgeous photos (but also for the light writing voice and the great food!) But although I never miss a post, I've almost never actually made any recipe directly from the site. This is partly because I rarely follow a recipe unless there's a particularly thorny ingredient I need to use up, but also because, although the food on Smitten Kitchen always looks delicious, it looks like food that someone else would make (and that I would happily eat!), but not me.

Today's recipe, apple cheddar scones, is a total case in point. I haven't baked a lot of scones, I don't usually have much extra cheese on hand, and whatever apples I have typically get eaten raw. So, the fact that I came to bake these amazing little scones had only to do with the fact that my friend RM suggested we make them with some of the abundant apples straight off the trees here at the farm. You can thank her (and her husband JF!) for this.


We mostly followed the directions as written, but made a few changes, in the size of apple chunks, the kind of cheese we used, and how much sugar we sprinkled on top.

But these babies came out so wonderful that my guess it'd be hard to ruin them without some major screw-up. Sweet and savory, crumbly and buttery-smooth all at once. I couldn't stop eating these beauties.

Without further ado:

Apple and Cheddar Scones 

5-6 small tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2" cubes
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (plus extra for the tops)
1/2 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2" cubes 
1/2 cup cheese (we used a sharp white cheese)
1/4 cup mixture half-and-half and milk
2 large eggs 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, spread apples on it, and bake until they are golden and slightly dry, about 20 minutes. Let them cool in the fridge as you prepare the dough. Leave the oven on. (I really resisted this extra, energy-intensive step, and probably would've skipped it if RM hadn't been around. If anyone tries it without baking, let me know how it goes--perhaps you could cut down a little on the cream/milk to make up for the extra liquid?)
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. 
  3. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, milk and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together, without overmixing.  [Smitten Kitchen's advice if you don't have a 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."]
  4.  Flour your counter top, place dough on it, and sprinkle the dough and rolling pin with more flour. Roll out to a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. 
  5. Transfer the wedges to your baking sheet (we just used the same parchment paper from the apple step), and try to space the scone as widely as possible. 
  6. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar. (I probably also would've skipped this step, since it didn't make them all that shiny, and there was egg left over). 
  7. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Cool for ten minutes, and then indulge, as soon as possible (though ours were still delicious on the second day). Makes 6 large scones.

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