Thursday, March 14, 2013

apple :: cheddar :: bacon scones

I'm here today to talk about scones, baking, and the simplest of pleasures in life. 
Besides Jesus, orphan care, and community...baking and cooking is my other greatest passion. 
When it has been a particularly hard day, long day, heart wrenching day, lonely day, etc.... I find nothing more comforting than knowing that if I mix flour, sugar, butter, and a few other things together---I am going to get an amazing result. 
The kitchen is the place where no one is telling me I am doing anything wrong. Or critiquing me. Or giving me their opinion. 
It is an escape and an outlet for blessing others. 
I may even have a bumper sticker on my car that says, "Love People-Cook Them Tasty Food." 
It is biblical after-all ;) 
"Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight;"
::Ecclesiastes 2:24-26::


I got the idea for the flavors from a favorite restaurant in Raleigh, The Rockford. They have this amazing sandwich that is simply called the ABC {Apple, Bacon, Cheddar}. It is served on french toast bread with a honey dressing. It is amazing. The perfect combination of sweet and savory. 
Growing up I remember my mom making an apple tart with cheddar cheese in the crust, and my favorite after school snack was apples with cheddar cheese. 

Fast forward quite a few years, and add in my obsession with baking and reading Joy the Baker's incredible blog. 
You have the birth of the best scone I've ever eaten. 
I promise this is not a prideful statement. Just a true one. 

I decided to start with a slightly less sweet version of a buttermilk scone base. 
As in any recipe the quality of your recipe is key. Sine I am a single gal on a budget I had to pick and choose which of these fine ingredients were going to be high quality, and which ones I could save on. 
I went with organic applewood smoked bacon, organic granny smith apples, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (a white cheddar type cheese with a hint of sweetness), and organic unsalted Whole Foods brand butter. 
You know. The important ingredients. 

A full house and a full table may be one of my favorite things. Until I have a family of my own I will relish in lady brunch dates. Where we relax and laugh and giggle until our hearts and bellies are full. 

I may or may not have invited Joy the Baker to brunch. Am I a hopeless groupie? 
yes. yes I am. 
Meeting Joy is one of my 2013 goals! I am almost positive she would have approved of these scones. 


Apple | Bacon | Cheddar Scones 
makes about 8 to 12 scones
Adapted from Joy the Baker's Chocolate Coconut Almond Scone recipe. They are also divine scones! Inspiration from this Smitten Kitchen recipe

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons white cornmeal 
1 tablespoons raw or granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 rounded teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 - 3/4 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch cubes 
3-5 strips applewood smoked bacon
1 large tart apple (I used granny smith in this recipe), peeled and diced into 1/4" - 1/2" pieces 
buttermilk, sea salt and sugar for topping before baking
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place chopped apples on parchment paper and spread into a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 5-8 minutes to slightly dry out the apple pieces. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cook the bacon slices in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Cook until crispy, but not burnt. Transfer cooked bacon slices to paper towels to drain and cool. Next, dice cheese and put in a separate bowl. 
Once bacon has cooled roughly chop the bacon into pieces about the same size as the apple and cheese cubes. This is when you may need to test the bacon and the cheese to ensure that they are indeed edible for your guests! 
Transfer bacon, apples, and cheese into a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour to coat. This will help the ingredients mix into the scone dough more evenly. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Toss the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture.  Using your hands or a pastry cutter, quickly work in the butter into the flour mixture. [the technique I use is starting with the pastry cutter, and finishing the mixing with my hands]  Some butter bits will be the size of small peas, and some will be the size of oat flakes.  Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk and egg. 
Remove the flour and butter mixture from the fridge.  Create a well in the center of the mixture.  Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the well.  Use a fork to bring the wet and the dry ingredients together.  Mixture will be shaggy. Add in the bacon, apple, cheese mixture and continue mixing the dough together by hand. The key to successful scones is to work quickly so the warmth of your hands does not melt the butter.  Lightly flour a work surface and dump the shaggy dough mixture out onto the counter. Separate dough into two pieces. Bring together the dough with your hands into a 1 1/2 - 2 -inch thick disk .  Slice the disks into 6 wedges and place on the parchment lined baking sheets. 
Brush with a bit of buttermilk and a few pinches of raw or granulated sugar and a sprinkle of salt.  Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and serve warm with apple butter or a side of cheesy scrambled eggs! 

Bon App├ętit!