My scone gave me an ouchy…
Can anyone else imagine Ralph Wiggum saying that?
Happy Bonfire Night everybody! (Everyone except Guy Fawkes, anyway…)
Every year of my childhood, as Bonfire Night approached, public safety announcements would start being shown on television warning us against the dangers of returning to lit fireworks and picking up burnt-out sparklers. But you know what they never warned me about? Toffee. It’s a hazard. Today I sustained my first scone-related injury. This is my story.
Growing up, Bonfire Night was always one of my favourite nights of the year, far more than Halloween. Now, as great as the fireworks and the bonfire were, I think what made standing around in a muddy field on a cold autumn night so appealing each year was having the opportunity to eat toffee apples.
(The funny thing about seasonal food is that as a child you look forward all year to the one day when you can eat it, then when you grow up you realise you can actually just make it for yourself any time you want. But you don’t. You still save it for that one day of the year to keep it special.)
For the last 2 years I’ve been living in Ireland, first in the North, then in the Republic. Bonfire Night doesn’t really exist in the Republic of Ireland, where they’re not too big on burning Catholic rebels. Bonfire Night in Northern Ireland… well, let’s not open that can of worms. Suffice to say, when the official taster and I turned up to the Bonfire Night celebrations at the Orange Hall of a neighbouring village, we left after less than 2 minutes.
So after 2 Bonfire Night-less Novembers, I am taking the official taster back to England for sparklers, toffee apples and the ignoring of the day’s somewhat inappropriate origins. In celebration, I decided to turn my favourite Bonfire Night food into a scone. Thus I bring you… Toffee Apple Scones! You probably saw that coming, didn’t you?
This recipe involved 2 processes I’d never tried before 1) stewing apples 2) making toffee. I stewed 2 chopped apples with a few tablespoons of caster sugar by covering with water, bringing to the boil then leaving to simmer for 5-10 minutes. I think I left mine too long, as they were very soft when I came to drain them, but I didn’t want the apple chunks to be too noticeable in the scones.
I rubbed 50g butter into about 150g of self-raising flour, along with about a teaspoon of baking powder, then I stirred in the apple mush, adding more flour until I got something resembling a dough. As with the pumpkin scones, it was a very soft dough, and much stickier than usual. I added cinnamon and allspice to half of the dough, and left the other half as it was, for the authentic toffee apple flavour. Then I baked for about 15 minutes at 180°c.
The toffee I was quite scared about. I used this recipe, but unfortunately I didn’t have any golden syrup, so I used maple syrup (left over from the bacon and maple syrup scones of August). I think this made it a little bit softer and of course it wasn’t the artificial bright red colour traditionally associated with toffee apples, but it had a nice fudge-y flavour which was perhaps a little bit more grown up. Or so I like to think.
I debated dunking the scones into the toffee in true toffee apple style, but was worried about losing large chunks of scone in the mix. In the end I settled for heavy drizzling and then put them in the fridge to set.
Even before the toffee, the apple scones were pretty tasty. There wasn’t much of an apple flavour running through them, though, presumably either because I didn’t use enough or because I overcooked them, but they were still lovely and sweet. With the toffee they were sticky and ridiculously indulgent.
I gave one of the scones to the official taster to take to work today. Apparently he ate it hot and dripping with melted butter – don’t you wish you had a boy’s metabolism?
“Get to the blood!”, I hear you cry. Oh dear, I fear I may have built the ‘injury’ thing up a little bit too much. Basically, toffee is sharp, my skin is soft. I’m just amused it was the toffee that did me damage, rather than the knife I was clumsily using to scrape it off the baking tray.
Given that this was another complete experiment turned out well, I’m beginning to think that with enough sugar or cheese, you can turn pretty much anything into a pretty good scone. Which of course probably means I just jinxed myself for the next batch.
FYI – for anyone who doesn’t know what Bonfire Night or Guy Fawke’s Night is, Wikipedia is here to help…