These are the scones to make the instant you feel fall in the air. They’ve got apples, honey and tangerine, flavors of the season, and the surprise addition of some spelt, a wheat flour that speckles their interiors. Their texture is light, and because they are only slightly sweet, they can take a slick of icing. My choice is a simple confectioners’ sugar icing, brushed on when the scones come out of the oven. While the icing is wet, I sometimes sprinkle the tops with a few grains of bee pollen. The pollen is optional, but its light sweetness and chewiness finish the scones nicely.
The dough for these is very sticky, so sticky that you might want to make drop scones rather than patty-cake the dough it into a disk and cut wedges. It’s a good option. Whatever you do, don’t decide that the dough needs more flour – it doesn’t! All that stickiness bakes to a light, airy crumb.
Iced Honey-Apple Scones with Spelt
- 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (75 grams) spelt flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 small tangerine, a clementine or 1/2 orange
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces; 85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
- 1 large cold egg
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) cold milk
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar, for icing
- About 1 tablespoon milk, for icing
- About 1 teaspoon bee pollen, for finishing (see headnote; optional)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Working in a large bowl, whisk together both of the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Finely grate the zest of the tangerine, clementine or orange into the bowl and whisk it in too – hold onto the fruit. Scatter the bits of cold butter over the flour, reach in and use your fingers to mash and press and mush the butter into the flour. (You can do this with a pastry cutter, but it’s really easier and faster to use your fingers.) Keep tossing the dry ingredients around and smushing the butter until you’ve broken it into flour-coated pieces as small as cornflakes and as big as peas. Add the apple to the bowl and toss until covered in flour. Pour over the honey and using a fork, give the mixture a couple of turns. There’s no need to be thorough now.
- Whisk the egg and milk together, squeeze in the juice from the zested citrus and blend it into the milk. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and using the fork, toss, turn and stir everything together until the flour is moistened. With your hands, gently – and sparingly – squeeze and knead the dough just enough to pull it into a ball. It’s futile (and unnecessary) to expect a smooth, neat packet of dough because the dough is wet and very sticky.
- Now you’ve got a choice. If you want to make drop scones, choose an ice cream scoop – one with a capacity of 1/4 cup is good – and scoop out 12 portions of dough onto the baking sheet. If you want to make wedge-shaped scones, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a circle that’s about 6 1/2 inches across and 1 inch high (the height’s more important than the diameter here). Dust the top with flour. Using a benchscraper or a chef’s knife, cut the dough into quarters and then cut each quarter in half, so you have 8 wedges. Carefully transfer them to the baking sheet. (At this point, you can freeze the scones and pack them airtight once they’re solid. To bake, put the frozen scones on a lined baking sheet and let them sit at room temperature while you preheat the oven. The scones may need a minute or so more baking time.)
- Bake the scones for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re tall and golden brown on top and bottom. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and make the icing.
- To make the icing, put the sugar in a medium bowl and add the milk a little at a time, stirring with a small spatula or spoon. Use a little less milk or add more – it’s hard to give a solid measurement – and keep stirring until you get a shiny icing that falls slowly from the tip of your spoon.
- Spread some icing over each scone (using a silicone brush or a small offset spatula for this job) and if you’d like, sprinkle over a little bee pollen while the icing is wet. Serve as soon as the icing dries or transfer the scones to a rack and serve within the next 3 or 4 hours. You can wait longer, but the scones are best as close to freshly baked as possible.
- Storing: These are best the day they’re made.