Well, it’s official. As Michaelmas term commences and we prepare for the cold months ahead, we must officially say goodbye to summer and embrace the new season. Although this year has been a tough one, with no promise of change in the next coming months, that does not means that we cannot put in the effort to make the most of what we are given. Although I will miss the warm(ish) summer months, I have high hopes to make the most of this coming autumn. For me, this means staying in, drinking tea, watching movies, reading, and, perhaps most importantly, baking.
To kick start my autumnal baking, I have decided to follow a recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. These ‘Brown Butter Maple Glazed Cinnamon Apple Scones’ sounded like the perfect autumnal treat to me. Not only did they sound delicious, they seemed like just the thing to have with a cup of tea on a cold, rainy day. Furthermore, although I had never made scones prior to this, the recipe looked relatively straightforward and proved to be very beginner-friendly. I also slightly adapted the recipe in order to make it more accessible to students and UK residents, as some of the ingredients are either expensive, hard to come by in the UK, or can be easily substituted for a cheaper, homemade version of the product.
Another great aspect to this recipe is that you most likely already have most of the ingredients right in your cupboard. What you will need in order to make these is as follows: flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, unsalted butter, an egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract, a couple apples, maple syrup, and a caster sugar and cinnamon mix. I already had most of these ingredients at home. A couple changes I made are that in lieu of buttermilk I squeezed a couple tablespoons of lemon juice into some whole milk, which serves as a great substitute; additionally, I simply used Tesco brand golden syrup instead of maple syrup since it is quite expensive and hard to come by. Besides the actual ingredients, a few other things you will need are a baking tray, baking paper, a cheese grater, measuring cups, a large knife and a bowl.
The recipe starts off fairly simple, all you need to do is preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius for a fan oven, or 200 for a conventional oven. After this simply mix about two and a half cups plain flower, two tablespoons brown sugar, one tablespoon baking powder, one teaspoon cinnamon and one half teaspoon salt. This next part is where the seemingly out-of-place cheese grater comes in, as you will need to grate about 115 grams of butter to little shreds that you will then place in the bowl along with your dry ingredients, tossing the mixture a bit so that the flour mixture coats the butter shreds a bit. To finish off the batter, simply add in one egg, three-fourths cup buttermilk (or homemade buttermilk alternative) and one tablespoon of vanilla extract. After the wet and dry ingredients become homogeneous you may then add in two chopped apples of your choosing. For the apples, it is best to choose ones that will not get too mushy during the baking process. The recipe calls for Honeycrisp apples, but I simply used the cheap ones I had already bought at Tesco and they worked just fine.
These next steps were my favourite part of the cooking process: the shaping and cutting of the scones. After transferring the dough (which should be dry enough to easily handle with your hands) onto a floured surface, you will want to pat and shape it into a circle that is about one inch in thickness, as shown below.
Then, cut the dough into eight wedges as if it were a pizza and place the wedges on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Make sure the wedges are a good distance apart from one another, if they are too close they will not achieve the level of hardness desired in a scone and may end up a bit soggy.
After this, brush the scones with buttermilk or a buttermilk alternative. If you are like me and do not have a pastry brush, simply use a spoon to drizzle some of the buttermilk onto the scone and then use the back of said spoon to spread it over evenly.
While the scones are baking in the preheated oven for about fifteen minutes, make the maple drizzle. This process is quite easy. After placing about 30 grams of butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cooking the butter until it is melted and browned (it should smell toasty but not burnt and have a golden-brown colour to it), take the pot off the heat and whisk in one-fourth cup maple or golden syrup, one-third cup powdered sugar, one teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Once the scones are out of the oven simply drizzle the maple glaze over them and enjoy! The recipe suggests that after placing the glaze on you should sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top. I chose to omit this step because I felt the scones were already sweet enough, but to each his own! Making these scones was extremely enjoyable for me and helped me to not be too blue over the coming autumn and dreary weather. I hope they can do the same for you.