As Dartmouth’s Homecoming weekend comes to a close, I could list many things I miss about my undergrad alma mater. I enjoyed hiking Franconia with freshmen, training and chilling out with the ski team, petting Mike Silverman’s adorable dogs between homework problems, long conversations on random topics with floormates and friends. Food-wise, I miss Collis Cafe: friendly staff, allergens clearly labeled, steel-cut oats on MWF mornings, a varied, rotating array of soups, chilis, and lunch entrees. There’s one Collis staple that I started missing even before I left: scones! Freshly-baked scones every weekday, made from a ridiculous number of different recipes (cherry-almond, rocky road, maple-oat, maple-glazed pumpkin, classic currant, and chocolate chip every Friday), were a tasty way to hold off hunger (with some Greek yogurt for protein and fruit so you can pretend you’re being healthy) and quick to grab between morning training and 8:45 lectures.
Sadly, my diagnosis with a wheat allergy put a premature end to my enjoyment of Collis scones. I’ve spend the last few years clicking on just about every scone recipe I’ve come across with the intention of trying it with spelt flour…only to be repulsed by the amount of butter. Sometimes it comes to over a tablespoon per scone!
But now, thanks to an apple-picking expedition, I have all the ingredients on hand to adapt a recipe I’ve been salivating over since I saw it: apple and cheddar scones from Smitten Kitchen. Thanks to a basic scone recipe from Orangette, which has fewer ingredients and less butter than Deb’s version, I’ll feel less guilty about biting into one of these little guys, hot out of the toaster, for the next few days. These smelled amazing as I was kneading the dough, with the savory pepper scent really coming through. Although I was a bit worried about how moist and sticky they were, I needn’t have been; they turned out great! Use the sharpest, most mature cheddar you can find. My one complaint about these is that the cheddar flavor isn’t strong enough; I’d maybe add more next time.
Also to try next time: ADD BACON.
Yield: 8-12 scones.
2-3 firm, tart apples (~ 1 lb; I used a McIntosh and a Macoun, I think…)
1/2 c milk
2 cups white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbsp sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
2/3 c shredded sharp/extra-sharp white cheddar (ORANGE IS FOR HEATHENS)
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper (approximate and optional)
Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (foil works almost as well).
Peel and core apples, then cut them into chunks. Placed them in a single layer on lined baking sheet and bake until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. (You can speed this up in the fridge.) Set oven to 425 degrees F.
Beat together the milk and the egg and then set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar, apples, cheddar, and pepper, and stir or toss to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries, reserving just a tad of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it no more than 12 times. [Apparently, twelve is the magic number here; surpass it at your own risk.] Pat dough into a round approximately 1/2-inch thick, and cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat, if you have one. Using a pastry brush (or paper towel), glaze wedges. Sprinkle with a little sugar and (optionally) freshly-ground black pepper.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack for several minutes before eating.
Notes: Scones are always best the day they are baked, and deteriorate pretty quickly. Since I don’t want to eat 12 scones in 1-2 days (but I don’t feel like sharing), I let all but a few of these cool completely, wrapped them individually in plastic, and stashed them in the freezer. They can be easily re-heated in a toaster oven.