Scones are a brilliant starting place for any beginner baker and homemade scones fresh from the oven are far superior to supermarket scones. I’ve given the classic scone a slight twist with the addition of apple and seeing as we’re in April and Easter is around the corner, I added a cross on top of the scones, as an alternative to hot cross buns. These are my Apple and Sultana Hot Cross Scones.
Traditionally, the liquid used to bind the ingredients in scones is milk however I toyed with the idea of using apple juice as the binding liquid and I found it worked just fine, adding slight sweetness as well as flavour. The variety of apple I chose was Gala as they looked the most delicious and sweet in the shops. I like to keep the red skin on however you can peel the apples too. The size of the diced apples is about 1cm.
I usually avoid using a rolling pin to flatten the dough so that I resist the temptation of rolling it too thinly and it also prevents knocking out as much of the air created thus far. Also, when you cut out your scones, don’t twist the cutter otherwise the scones won’t rise properly. The cutter I used was a mug which was 7cm wide at the top so these scones are fairly sizeable but feel free to use a smaller cutter for daintier scones (and also reduce the baking time).
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
60g margarine, cut into cubes
45g granulated sugar
1 Gala apple, cored and diced
1 large egg
60 – 80ml apple juice, plus extra for brushing the scones
30g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder and the spices into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the margarine into the dry ingredients until it resembles fine and even breadcrumbs. Shaking the bowl will move larger pieces of the margarine to the surface. Create a well in the centre and add the sugar, diced apple and sultanas and stir to combine so the fruit is coated in the flour.
Make another well and crack in the egg and add three-quarters of the apple juice and using a palette knife and a cutting and stirring motion, bring together until it forms a loose dough.
Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 seconds to bring it together. It should look quite rough but hold together as a dough; if it’s smooth, then you’ve overworked it. Use your hands to flatten the dough to around 2cm thickness.
Use a lightly floured cutter (I used a mug which was 7cm wide at the top), cut out as many scones as you can from the dough and place onto the baking tray, leaving space for expansion. Reroll and reshape any of the scraps of dough, doing this a maximum of 2 times to avoid overworking.
Brush the tops of the scones with apple juice. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with enough water to form a thick pipeable paste. Transfer into a piping bag and cut off a small hole at the end and then pipe a cross over the scones, starting from and finishing at the sides of the scones.
The scones took around 20 – 25 minutes to bake in my oven. I waited for the tops and sides to be evenly golden brown and lifting up the scones from the parchment, it should come cleanly off the parchment and be browned well on the base. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.