This week has been a rodeo, and I've been thrown off the horse.
I had high hopes for baking the past ten days or so, but life gets in the way. I hate when that happens. I had a sixty page paper due last week, yes - sixty, then Justin's grandmother passed away so we high-tailed it to Pittsburgh after learning the dream house we put an offer on went to someone else. (Although after the viewing Uncle Bill and Aunt Cindy took us all out to Primanti Bros. for sandwiches and hello, best thing I've eaten in a long, long time.) So yes, it's been a bumpy ride.
But God is faithful and good and in control despite the surrounding madness. I believe that with all my heart. There were a few glimmers of happiness in the past week - we had our engagement pictures taken by an absolutely fabulous photographer and just the sneak peek makes me all teary. She is so talented and I am so blessed to be marrying an amazing man.
You should see the rest of 'em. My police officer is smokin'.
But hey, it's a new day, let's talk about scones! The older I get (and 24 is, like, super old), the more I love scones. I used to be a muffin girl (not in the ill-fitting pants way), but I'd never turn down a crumbly topped cinnamon streusel muffin or a vanilla muffin dotted with blueberries. We all know that muffins are nothing more than bald cupcakes, and that works for me because frosting isn't my favorite thing.
But scones were always sort of foreign to me - there's a lot of bad scone recipes out there: some hard as hockey pucks and others like confused cupcakes, overly sweet and too fluffy. I think a good scone is complicated, sweet and salty, crisp but tender and never the sort of thing to send you into a diabetic coma first thing in the morning. I've given scones their fair share of attention around here, vanilla bean, black raspberry and apricot-walnut, but these just might be my new favorite.
I'm embarrassed to say that I've been sitting on this recipe for a long time. I received the book, The Perfect Finish, for review months ago and it got lost in the shuffle. Even then, I remembered this being the one recipe that really stuck out to me - tart-sweet apples roasted until they're dry on top and sticky underneath matched with sharp, rich cheddar cheese and baked into a lumpy, crusty triangle of a scone. Once you split it open, the cheddar is streaked through the woven crumb with splotches of jammy apple pockets throughout - every bite is a surprise, sometimes cheesy, sometimes apply, always delicious.
Don't be silly like me and wait until next autumn to bake these. Do it soon. October won't be here forever, and these encompass everything happy about the season. Sort of like this.
I ate these this morning with a cup of hot lemon tea, resting the scone over top my mug to warm it just a bit. It's a cheap trick but hey, it's not like I have an oven in my cubicle over here. These are best eaten warm just out of the oven but they will freeze beautifully and need only a gentle reheat in the oven to perk back up.
Apple & White Cheddar Scones
Adapted from The Perfect Finish
2 firm, tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Macoun, or Pippin (about 1 pound total)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 to 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, at room temperature
To make the apple and white Cheddar cheese scones, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (176°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel, core, and slice each apple lengthwise into sixteenths. Place the slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake the apples until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer the apples to a bowl and let cool. Leave the oven on.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the apples, Cheddar cheese, cream, and 1 of the eggs. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the butter mixture and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.
Generously flour the work surface, place the scone dough on it, and sift a light layer of flour over the top. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a 1 1/4 inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut the circle into 6 wedges (2 1/2 inches wide at their outer edge) and transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each scone.
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt. Brush the apple scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake on the center rack until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift the scones onto a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm.