apple and cheddar sconesPosted: November 20, 2011
I just recently discovered the wonder of apple and cheddar combinations, thanks to a delightful apple cheddar scone I had at a local bakery, Made with Love. After trekking to the bakery several times in just a few days for these delightful scones, I finally decided I’d better learn to make them myself. The recipe I chose, from the SmittenKitchen, came out perfectly – a little crisp on the outside but soft and tender on the inside.
A brilliant thing about making scones is that, unless you have enough people around to eat the whole batch, you can bake just as many as you need, and freeze the rest for another occasion. A little bit of work one afternoon means that you can have fresh scones for breakfast for the next few days, instead of the usual cold cereal or oatmeal.
Since I’m having Thanksgiving with Mark’s family this year, I won’t get to do any cooking myself (sad!), which means that I won’t be posting any Thanksgiving-related recipes on this site (there will be Christmas recipes later though!). However, if you’re hosting people for Thanksgiving and want to have a little breakfast treat for them, these scones would be a great option, since you can make them well ahead of time, freeze them, and then just pop them in the oven when you need them.
Apple and Cheddar Scones
I haven’t really made any major adaptations here. The original recipe called for unsalted butter, but I never seem to keep it around, so I used salted instead. It looks like the original recipe was measured only in grams, so if you have a kitchen scale (another thing that anyone who is a serious baker ought to have!), then go with those measurements. This is a minor thing, but the version I used converted 65 grams of grated cheddar to 1/2 cup. I used the weight measurements, and it looked like a whole lot more than 1/2 cup of cheese – it would have to have been a very tightly packed 1/2 cup. So I’ve changed it to a full semi-loosely packed cup. Of course, the whole point of measuring by weight instead of volume is to get around these kinds of ambiguities, which is why kitchen scales are so great! Another way to deal with this is that if you know you’ve bought, say, a 5 oz. block of cheese, and you cut off a little less than half of it (since you need 2.25 oz.) to grate, then you should be fine. I used Golden Delicious apples here. Smitten Kitchen recommends Granny Smith, but I couldn’t find those at the Greenmarket. In the past I’ve used Jonagold or Cortland apples successfully in a coffee cake without having problems with too much juiciness (you don’t want soggy baked goods!), so I think those would work too. For grating the cheddar, I used the smallest holes on my box grater, so the cheese would be mixed very evenly throughout the dough.
Makes 6 scones
2 firm tart apples (1 lb. or 454 grams)
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces or 195 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams) plus 1 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup (2.25 ounces or 65 grams, see note above) sharp white cheddar, grated finely
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and core apples, then cut them into chunks (original recommends 1/16ths, but I cut mine a bit smaller than that – just imagine what size you would like the chunks in your scones to be, and go with that). Place them on parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer, and bake on a center oven rack for about 20 minutes, until the chunks are just starting to brown lightly, and they feel dry to the touch. Let them cool completely – if you remove the parchment (with apples still on top) from the baking sheet and place in the refrigerator, this shouldn’t take too long. Leave the oven on.
Sift or whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one), put the butter, cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Pour the flour mixture into this bowl, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. There will still be chunks of butter visible in the dough. Do not overmix.
If you don’t have a mixer of any kind, you can first mix the butter into the flour as you would for pie dough – use your fingers to rub in the butter, or use a pastry cutter. There should still be fairly large chunks of butter in the flour mixture when you stop. Add the rest of the ingredients from the previous paragraph, and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture just comes together.
Generously flour the countertop, and turn the mixture onto the floured area. The dough will be quite sticky, but that’s how it is supposed to be. Quickly form the dough into a circle, then sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough into a circle 1 1/4 inch thick, 6 inches in diameter (you can also use your hands to pat the dough into this shape). Cut circle into six wedges with a knife or bench scraper.
Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet (if not using parchment, butter a baking sheet) with at least two inches between each scone. Take the remaining egg and beat it with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before eating.
Scones are best the day they are baked, and go downhill pretty quickly after that, so I highly recommend freezing any you don’t plan to eat right away. If you want to freeze some before baking, here’s how you should do it. Don’t brush the scones you are planning to freeze with the egg wash. Before putting them into a freezer bag, you want to do what’s called flash-freezing. Place the raw scones onto a baking sheet, and place them in the freezer until they’ve become hard (probably at least 30 minutes – I kind of forgot about mine, so I’m not sure how long they were in there). If, like me, you have a freezer that’s far too narrow for any of your baking sheets, just place the scones on some aluminum foil or parchment paper to flash freeze them. Once they’ve become hard, you can put them into a freezer bag, and return to freezer. This way, they won’t all stick together in the bag. Whenever you want a scone, you can move it straight from the freezer into the oven – no need to defrost first. Place the scone(s) on a baking sheet, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle on some sugar, then add about 5 minutes to the normal baking time. So convenient!