|Golden Noble apples from our garden|
This is a very good village for apples - and this has been a very good year for apples as well. For a while, visitors were not allowed to leave our house without a bag of apples. Friends have been making jams and chutneys. We've cooked and eaten lots of them ourselves and frozen some of them too.
The tree at the bottom of our 200 year old garden is called Golden Noble, a very old variety. These are cooking apples, but they are sweet enough not to need much sugar, and when cooked, the fruit is soft, fluffy, juicy and very 'old fashioned'.
Every year, I make batches of apple scones, and they are the easiest things in the world to bake. Here's how to do it.
I make a basic scone dough, (these are called biscuits in the USA, I believe!) with about a quarter of a kilo - approximately eight ounces in old measures, or even eight heaped tablespoons - of self raising flour, a well heaped teaspoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of salt, all sifted together. If you only have plain flour, add extra baking powder.
Rub in an ounce or two of butter - this can be spreadable or ordinary butter, it doesn't much matter - until the mixture resembles soft breadcrumbs. If you like your scones crumbly and buttery you can add a bit more - this really is not a precise recipe and I'd encourage you to experiment!
Add whatever spice you like: a teaspoon of cinnamon is traditional, but you can try nutmeg too. Finally, stir in as much sugar as you want. I like my scones to be quite plain, and Golden Noble apples are sweet, so I tend to use only a tablespoon of soft brown sugar, no more than that. If you have a sweet tooth and are using tart apples like Bramleys, you might want to use more.
|egg and vanilla extract|
Beat two free range eggs in a bowl with a good teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add this to the flour mixture, with a dollop - about a tablespoon - of Greek or even ordinary plain yoghurt, and enough milk, if needed, to make into a very soft dough. You can use buttermilk instead. Mix it as quickly as you can. It doesn't matter at all if it is quite loose and not very smooth. It should be just this side of sticky, if you know what I mean - just manageable - and the apples will make it very lumpy.
At this point, you can shape it, flour it and roll it out on a well floured board, to a couple of inches thick, and then cut it into individual scones with a scone cutter. If you don't have a proper scone cutter, a mug or cup or glass will do. If you are in a hurry, as I generally am, you can break it into two parts, shape it into two big scones, (see picture below) put on a greased baking tray, mark each shape into four, and brush with some beaten egg.
Bake in a hot oven. James Martin bakes his scones at 220C or 425F or Gas 7 but my fan oven errs on the side of heat, so I bake mine at about 200C or a little less. The main thing is to handle the dough as little as possible and to make sure the oven is hot when the scones go in. They will brown up quite quickly, but you should test with a skewer to make sure that the insides are well baked and not sticky.
If you have made individual scones, they will take 10 - 15 minutes, but the bigger rounds that I make take longer - some 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool on a wire tray, and then break each round into four big triangular scones. These freeze well, and taste very fresh once thawed. The apple pieces are soft and tender. You can, if you prefer, make these into two individual loaves - i.e. you don't need to cut them into four. Then you can slice them and eat them with butter, once baked.
They are lovely if eaten when still warm. They also go very well indeed with some crumbly Wensleydale cheese.
Happy baking and even happier eating!
|The Golden Noble apple tree in full bloom, earlier in the year.|