23 January 2010

Who Knew? It Really Does Work...

I always used to hear how apple pie was best served with cheese, and yeah, you know what? I'll just take peoples' word for it. I'm not a big apple pie kind of girl anyway, and the thought of pairing it with cheddar just seemed absurd. And this coming from the chick who will give pretty much anything a shot.

However if there is one person I trust, it's Dorie Greenspan, so when I saw her apple scone recipe was a cheddar-and-apple combo, I figured I'd give it a shot. Besides, they're scones - if I don't like 'em, I can give them away ;)

Well, as it turns out - everybody is right. Cheddar and apples really do pair up amazingly well together. I love this scone recipe in and of itself, by the way: using not only apple juice but dried apple is a brilliant move, it really lets the apple sing and there isn't too much moisture or mushy bits, it retains that perfectly dense-yet-delicate scone texture. The cornmeal adds a yummy, crunchy layer of flavor, too. Sooooo yummy.

PS - the recipe says to use cold cold cold cubed butter. I have found better results with scones by freezing the butter, then grating with a cheese grater (then popping back in the freezer until needed, at least 10 minutes).

Apple Cheddar Scones
(from The Dorie Bible)

1 large egg
1/2 c. cold buttermilk
1/4 c. cold apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c. finely diced dried apples

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Stir the egg, buttermilk and apple cider together

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between – and that’s just right.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be very wet and sticky, comes together. If there are still some dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, stir them in, but try not to overdo the mixing. Stir in the grated cheese and dried apple.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Then, because the dough is very sticky, the easiest thing to do is to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, pat it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and, using a dough scraper or a chef’s knife, cut it into 12 roughly equal pieces; place on the baking sheet. Alternatively, you can just spoon out 12 equal mounds onto the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking – just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake the scones for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firm-ish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.

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