Friday, November 8, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Scones

Sometimes I think my dream job would be to work in the kitchen of a bed and breakfast producing small batch pastries for brunch and teatime as well little after dinner sweets for small groups of guests.  I’ve had the experience of working in a large-scale production bakery where I used a huge 60-quart mixer and hauled 50 lb sacks of flour.  Tasks included things like producing 48 gallons of madeleine batter every other day.  While it was important to learn how to scale up recipes and understand how to produce hundreds of pastries at a time, it’s my preference to work small with fresh ingredients where I can vary the menu seasonally to keep things interesting.  So that’s the dream job I sometimes idealize in my head when I think about doing what I love.

The fun of having a blog is you get to work on new pastries all the time.  You can experiment with things you might not otherwise do and you’re constantly learning more about the way ingredients work.  Ask any successful chef if they ever get tired of making the same popular dish over and over again and they’ll probably say, "Yes!"  Although it’s wonderful to have the public love your products, it can sometimes be frustrating to see your patrons revolt when you try to change the menu or rotate new ideas into your repertoire. 

So in my dream job I would make interesting coffee cakes or scones, yeasted pastries or tea breads, filling the space with enticing aromas.  There’d also be cookies for the afternoon and a little something for after dinner sweet seekers.  You see?  It's a really lovely little dream.  Maybe one such scone recipe would be this little apple treat.

For me, autumn and fall are the season of brown sugar and spice.  And apples. All three come together very nicely in this scone, which would be a friendly addition to your Sunday brunch table.  If you have any trouble rousing sleepy family or friends, the scent of baking apples and cinnamon wafting from the kitchen will do the trick. 

This is a rich scone recipe that has a layer of apples tossed with brown sugar and cinnamon tucked inside.  Since the scones are baked in only about 14 minutes or so, I sauté the apples in some butter to make them tender to the bite.  The whole recipe comes together in about 15 or 20 minutes so you don’t have to plan too far in advance.  And you get to have your hands in flour and butter first thing in the morning.  Brew a good cup of java, set them on your table and enjoy sharing the melt-in-your-mouth results.

Bench notes:
- I used a Fuji apple. 
- Make sure there are no lumps in the brown sugar when adding to the flour mixture.
- The butter needs to be very cold.  Cut it into 1/2” cubes and then return to the refrigerator while you assemble the other ingredients.
- I divided the dough into 4 equal portions to make it easier to work with.  You can just divide into 2 equal portions and pat into 9" circles if that’s easier for you.
- If you have a scale, use it to portion the dough equally.
- If your oven isn't ready, chill the scones while you wait.
- If your oven runs very hot, you may want to use two stacked sheet pans to prevent the bottoms from browning too much.
- Scones are best enjoyed the same day.

Apple Cinnamon Scones
Makes 8 scones

1 medium-sized (7 – 8 oz) apple
1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) butter
3 tablespoons (39 g) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg

2 cups (10 oz) flour
2 tablespoons (26 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (26 g) dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into 1/2” cubes         
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream                                  

1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) butter, melted for brushing the tops
2 teaspoons (8 g) sugar + pinch cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

Peel and core the apple and chop it into 1/2” pieces.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the apple pieces.   Cook until the apples are softened a bit, about 5 – 8 minutes, stirring to avoid scorching.  Take off the heat and toss them with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool. 

Place the flour, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the butter pieces and toss to coat with flour.  Use your fingers to pinch the butter into small thin flakes about the size of a dime, tossing as you go to continue to coat the butter thoroughly with flour.  Make a well in the center and add the cream.  Stir gently with a fork until it starts to come together and the cream seems fairly absorbed.  The dough will look a little shaggy.  Gather the loose and lumpy dough and knead it very gently 2 or 3 times just until it holds together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions.  Pat and shape each portion of dough into a 5 1/2” circle, gently lifting to make sure the dough isn’t sticking.  Top two of the circles with the cooled apple mixture, leaving a 1” border around the edge.  (If a lot of liquid has accumulated with the apples, leave most of it behind.)  Place the remaining two circles of dough on top and press the edges to form a seal.

Using a lightly dusted bench scraper or sharp knife, cut each circle into 4 scones. Use the bench scraper or a metal spatula to lift the scones onto the prepared baking sheet.  Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake on the middle rack until they are golden, about 14 - 15 minutes. 


Elly McCausland said...

These look like exactly my type of scone - fluffy on the inside, crunchy and crispy on the outside. That apple filling looks so inviting - such a great idea to include it in the scones while they bake. I'll definitely be giving these a go!

pastry studio said...

Hello, Elly! If you're a scone lover, I think you'll really enjoy these.

Bryan said...

These are really delicious, I've never tucked fruit in a scone before, but i like it. There may be potential for other kinds too.
I cut the apple dice fairly small in the hopes that the pieces wouldn't fall out of the encasement.
You're right, the smell from these as they baked was incredible.

pastry studio said...

Howdy, Bryan. I'm so pleased you enjoyed these little morsels. I'm also thinking along these lines: berries with a lemon scone; figs with brown sugar; apricot……Really fun way to do something different.

Didn't get a chance to get to the Farmer's Market this week. Hamada Farms has buddha's hand and I'm itching to make panforte for friends.

Elly McCausland said...

I made these on Friday - they were gorgeous! I used yoghurt and milk instead of the heavy cream in the dough (so I could justify eating more of them...) and it worked perfectly. Can't wait to try with other fruit too - these have become a favourite!

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Elly! Good to know your substitution of yogurt and milk worked well. It will be fun to try with apricot or berries.