There’s nothing quite so delicious as a perfectly-constructed scone. I had my first scone at a small tea shop near Oxford, and spent the next few hours ordering platter after platter. The combination of lightly crisp crust and soft, flaky interior had me absolutely hooked, especially when served with generous bowls of clotted cream and strawberry jam.
Last week, I baked up two separate batches of scones and came to a very important realization: scones are not for the faint-hearted, but they do allow for some short-cuts. The first batch I made (following this recipe), called for all forms of torture in the kitchen: the dough had to be kneaded just so, rolled into specific dimensions and folded in a particular number of times. After about an hour in the kitchen, though, it seemed the effort was worth it – the scones were light, fluffy and perfectly crisp on the outside. I switched the blueberries in the recipe for large grapes, which gave it a slight tartness, and scooped the dough onto the baking tray instead of cutting it into triangles for the cloudy perfection that I remembered from my first taste.
The second batch, which I bravely attempted a few days later, were a pleasant surprise. I dug out an old recipe from one of my mother’s handwritten cook books and stirred some chopped apple and cinnamon into the dough. It was a no-nonsense recipe (the just-put-everything-in-a-bowl-and-mix-it variety) and although it didn’t have the same texture as the previous batch, it was still delicious. They kept for a couple of days and were great at teatime or even for breakfast.
Apple and Cinnamon Scones
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup frozen butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then cut the butter into it in dime-sized pieces. Mix it so that the butter is well-coated and a crumbly dough is formed.
Combine the milk and vanilla essence, whisk for a minute and then add to the dough. The best way to do this is to create a well in the middle of the bowl and pour the mixture in.
Toss the chopped apple with cinnamon and stir it into the mixture.
Sprinkle some flour on any clean surface, and knead the dough until it holds together in a firm ball. Then, roll it out into a circle (mine was about 9 inches in diameter) and cut off slices like a pie.
To add some extra crispiness, brush melted butter on each scone and sprinkle some sugar over that.
Grease a baking tray and bake them for around 15 minutes at 200 C.
They’re best enjoyed with clotted cream, if you can get your hands or some or have the eight hours it takes to make it. Otherwise, they’re also delicious spread with orange marmalade or a slightly tart jam.