Fall has officially begun. The mornings are cooler and daylight hours are beginning to fade. Fall is one of my favorite seasons, as it is a rest from the unyielding heat and the spectacular show of colors that slowly appear throughout the next month. It is around this time that you can begin to look upward to see the slight yellows, oranges, and reds and look downward to see the ground peppered with fallen leaves. The warm sweaters and light coats come out, along with the fall baking spices, hot cocoa, cider, and warm soups. It is a season of comfort and home.
This year, I chose to visit a local apple orchard and try apple picking for the first time. Never having been before, I was unsure of what to expect. I thought it would be a quick visit, pulling apples from a few trees, and that was that. However, once I arrived at Weston Red Barn Farm I could see that this was no ordinary place. Perched on a hill, overlooking the fields below, and stretched out over many acres was a fall-lovers dream. A charming home, barn yard animals, a shop filled with fall treats, and pumpkins everywhere. I was greeted by smiling faces and given helpful advice on apple picking. I was directed to a sprawling apple orchard and lost myself among the trees.
Different varieties of apples appeared as I worked my way down the orchard. Red Delicious, with its unreal red hue and then Jonathan, green and tart. Finally, I found myself surrounded by my one of my favorites of all, the Gala. Their blushing pink color was everywhere and I brushed aside butterflies to find the perfect ones. Surrounded by the shade of the trees, the glowing light, and cool morning breeze it felt like a dream. Unreal and so peaceful.
As I walked away, after purchasing my half-peck of apples in the big red barn shop, I wondered if my hoard of apples was too much. Could I possibly use this many apples? I immediately thought of the countless tarts, pies, muffins, savory quiches, confections, ciders, breads, and scones that I could create. Savory scones, like these Herb Apple Gruyere ones, are fantastic with a warm bowl of soup. My stomach growled just thinking of them. Yes, I had bought enough apples. My only concern, as I drove away, was did I pick enough?
Herb Apple Gruyere Scones
Makes 8 round scones
1 3/4 cups (220g) all purpose flour
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk, cold
1/2 cup (40g) gruyere, grated
1/2 cup apples, small dice, sweet or tart
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
In a large bowl, using a whisk, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Add cold butter and use a hand-held pastry blender to cut in the butter or work it with your fingertips until pieces are pea-sized. Add gruyere, thyme, sage, parsley, and apples. Combine to evenly distribute. Add buttermilk and lightly toss to mix.
Pour mixture out onto clean counter top. Using the heel of your palm, flatten out the dough. Gather the dough back together in a mound and repeat two or three times. Try not to overwork the dough. You should still see pea-sized bits of butter throughout the dough when you’re finished.
Flatten the dough to a 1 inch thickness and using a 2.5 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Gently push scraps back together and cut out more rounds. Freeze for at least 2 hours before baking, or freeze up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare the egg wash by whisking together an egg yolk, a splash of heavy cream, and a pinch of kosher salt. Remove scones from freezer and space them evenly on a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or golden brown, and can easily be lifted off the pan.
Recipe adapted from Zoe Nathan’s, Huckleberry.