Bread of the Month: Crossing dessert genres

cake01LedeI wanted to feature a spring bread in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, preferably a scone. But my mind kept going back to something I baked several years ago and hoped to return to again. Was an Apple Scone Cake — a layered scone and apple creation — a bread, a cake, a pie? Where did it fit, exactly? And what did it matter? Sometimes we place too much emphasis on labels, and frankly, a dessert that defied categorizing beyond the moniker “delicious” was my kind of recipe, anyway.

From the Joy of Baking website, Stephanie Jaworski adapted this Apple Scone Cake from Myrtle Allen’s Irish cookbook, “Cooking at Ballymaloe House.” As I contemplated the recipe, I decided to do my own further adapting (just a few things). This is the beauty of cooking — you share and modify and add your own twist here or there.

sconedooh01The scones I ate in Ireland (from a tearoom…we need to have tearooms in America!) were full of raisins, so I decided to add this element to the very simple scone dough that is the base and topping for this cake. I also added a whiff (about 1/2 teaspoon) of lemon zest to the dough.

Making this recipe again, I was reminded that this dough is very soft, so extra flour is needed to not only roll out out, but get it into the pie dish (is it a cake? a pie?). But the end result is a very tender and delicate “scone.”
dooh02For the apple filling, I added lemon juice to my apples, pecans, sugar and cinnamon (I increased the cinnamon a little, too. Carefully, I eased the top scone layer onto the apples and pressed the edges in. It was my favorite kind of baked good — rustic, homey, comforting. A brush of cream and sprinkle of sparkling sugar would be as close to fancy as this dessert would get.

dcreme01Or a dab of Devonshire Cream (clotted cream) as a garnish. This traditional accompaniment to scones at teatime, is made by heating heavy cream to the point of separation to get the richest and thickest interpretation. To me, it tastes like cream just a churn or two shy of butter, but is a delightful treat in small doses here and there.

Fresh from the oven, the beautiful scone cake/coffecake/pie bread was a beautiful adornment to my countertop, giving off its lilting apple cinnamon fragrance as it cooled.

complete01I ate a piece as soon as humanly possible, my fork easily digging through the buttery tender layers of scone with apples lending a tart, juicy sauce to every bite. Oh, my! It was like a cobbler, too!!! It staggered the mind of all the categories it filled, but mostly, it would fill the dessert plates on my table for years to come.

Apple Scone Cake
From Joy of Baking (www.joyofbaking.com)
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Scone dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Glaze:
Milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Butter (or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray) a 9-inch glass pie plate.

In a large bow, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract and add to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five time and then divide the dough in half. Roll or pat one half of the dough into a 9-inch circle and transfer to the pie plate and pat into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

In a separate bowl, toss together the cut apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Spread the apples evenly over the bottom of the dough in the pie plate.

Roll the remaining dough into a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured surface, and gently place the dough over the apples. With your fingers, seal the edges of te top and bottom crusts. brush the top of the dough with a little milk and sprinkle with white sugar. Cut a slit in the center of the dough to allow the steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

Blogger’s Note: I tossed about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and about 1/3 cup of raisins into the dry ingredients after the butter was blended in. I added about a teaspoon of lemon juice and increased the cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon to the filling.
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