For once, fall crept up on me this year.
It surprises me even more because I work in an industry where the mindset is always a few weeks ahead of the present. Oh remember that ad I designed two weeks ago with all of the fall produce? Well it came out today. Apples in the store already? Right, because it is now October.
Perhaps it's because summer always feels like it is never ending. Day after day is filled with sweltering heat and burning for several minutes in my car before the AC kicks in. There's the guilt whenever I bring my dog, Gus, in the car with me and I start to hear him panting. The trips to the grocery store where I berate myself for forgetting the cooler bag and hope my groceries survive the journey home.
Or maybe it's because my August was already filled with an elaborate Thanksgiving photo shoot for work, my dad giving me an abundance of apples from his tree, and the leaves already beginning to change color and fall from the trees. Or that all hopes of September cooling down were crushed by days of 100 degree weather, followed by that one crisp, cool, rainy day and back to the 100 degree weather again. This is also the first year since I was 5 that I didn't anticipate going back to school and what a relief that was. I did have the urge to get brand new school supplies but really what for?
After an annoying hot weekend, the days have cooled down enough where I need to put on my sweater before leaving for work and have begun trading out my slippers/flip flops for my clogs. And now that it's October, it's definitely time to embrace fall in it's glory. I'm not talking about pumpkin now. I really was joking before.
I’m really not feeling the pumpkin this year. I might make a few pumpkin things (okay maybe just pumpkin pie) but what I really want are apples. I want to try new apple varieties and figure out the different tastes and textures. I want to figure out which ones I like for baking other than my usual stand-by—the Granny Smith. I’ve never been an apple person but I think there’s something to be said about apples that do well raw and cooked down in various applications.
First up? These Caramel Apple Scones. It’s now cool enough where the thought of making scones doesn’t make me anxious. I don’t feel the clock and the heat telling me to hurry up before the butter starts to melt. I still do but not as much.
There are two parts to these scones. The first part is cooking the apples in a caramel sauce so that by the time the scones come out of the oven, you don't have to worry about whether or not the apples are soft inside. The second part is the scone of course; a minimal ingredient dough dressed up with a little lemon zest.
Thinly slice one apple and combine with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples become soft and the caramel sauce is bubbling and thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
While the apples cool, let's move onto the scone dough. The key to scones is keeping the butter chilled and working in layers. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Then, using a pastry cutter, fork or your finger tips, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter should be distributed into the dough in about pea-sized pieces. Add the honey to the buttermilk and stir until the flour is just moistened.
Dump the dough on a clean surface and knead no more than 10 times until the dough comes together. Roll it out into a rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Spoon the apples on the dough and fold into thirds like a letter.
Pinch the ends and sides together so you have a nice rectangular package. Using a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 8 pieces and place on a baking sheet. Brush with buttermilk and bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-18 minutes or until the scones are golden brown.
For whatever reason, it fascinates me when you can see the layers in scones and biscuits. Probably because that's how you know you made it right.
These are extra cinnamon-y for fall and the caramel sauce soaks into the apples and in-between layers.
Now I'm fully in the mood for fall especially with these sunsets as of late. Still not for pumpkin though.