Jan was using one of her few opportunities to sleep in this morning. I—of course—woke up at 6, like I usually do. I decided to surprise her with scones this morning.
I usually make British scones, but I have made them so many times that they are getting a bit stale. I had bought some dried apples with no real idea of what I was going to do with them. I thought that the diced dried apples would make a good substitute for the currents in the original recipe. Apples call out for spice, so I decided to spice things up.
A few weeks ago I tried to make cinnamon scones. They were not bad, but even though I used a tablespoon of cinnamon, they did not taste very cinnamon-y. The missing secret ingredient was vanilla.
Vanilla is more than just a flavoring. In a way similar to salt activating the taste buds to taste sweet and savory flavors, vanilla causes the flavors of some spices to “pop.” If your baked goods call for sweet spices—like cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg—their taste will seem flat and dull if you do not add just a touch of vanilla.
Note: You do not even need to add so much that you can even taste the vanilla for it to have this effect. Be sure to use real vanilla “extract,” not artificial vanilla or vanilla “essence.” These compounds are created in a laboratory to replicate the vanilla smell, but to not have the effect of real vanilla. This is defiantly a case of “better living through chemistry”-NOT.
Karl’s Scones with Dried Apples
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. ground nutmeg (¼ tsp. if using fresh grated)
¼ tsp. salt
1/3+ cup Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
5 Tbs. butter, softened
½ cup dried apples, ¼ inch dice
½+ cup. cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt several times into a large bowl.
Tip: Repeated sifting helps distribute the ingredients evenly through the mix.
2. Mix in the sugar.
Note: The orange infused sugar tends to clog my flour sifter, so I have to add it after the other ingredients are thoroughly mixed. It is more important that the baking powder and salt are evenly distributed.
3. Work the softened butter into the flour mixture completely by rubbing it through your fingers. The flour should look a bit “sandy” when you are done.
Tip: Ten seconds in a microwave on defrost will soften the butter enough. You do not want to add melted butter, but it should be soft enough to mix easily into the flour.
4. Stir the apples into the flour mixture.
5. Add the cream and vanilla into a measuring cup and beat in the egg.
Tip: Total liquid measurement will be about ¾ of a cup.
6. Add most of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Tip: If necessary, add a bit more cream/egg to the mix make a soft dough.
7. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10-15 times.
Note: In British scones, the fat in the butter binds with much of the protein in the flour. This prevents gluten from forming and gives you a more tender scone. You want some gluten to form, so that your scone has some structure, just not so much that it becomes tough.
8. Roll the dough to one half inch thick and cut out the scones with a 2 inch biscuit cutter.
Tip: If you do not have a biscuit cutter find one—it took me a couple weeks—they are really quite cheep. A biscuit cutter has a sharp bottom edge that “cuts” through the dough. I used to use a open jar ring to cut my biscuits, but the rolled thick edge crushes down through the dough and pinches it off against the work surface. The pinched edge prevents the sides of the scone from rising as it cooks, leaving you with a domed and misshaped scone.
9. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining egg/milk mixture.
10. Sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon of orange sugar on top of each scone.
11. Bake at 425° F, on the middle rack, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
12. Serve warm from the oven.