Scones And Spiced Apple-Pear Butter
Tis the season to enjoy a festive tea with the special little people in your life and perhaps a few Teddy bear pals as well. A simple plate of sliced fruit, cookies or muffins along with kid-friendly tea, cocoa or hot apple cider is all you need. But if you’re feeling more ambitious, nothing can compare to freshly made scones, hot out of the oven, topped with spiced apple-pear butter. The festive flavors of cinnamon, ginger, clove and allspice seem just right for this time of year. Your house will smell amazing as your butter lazily bubbles away in your slow cooker. The scones and the apple-pear butter also make wonderful handmade gifts.
Oat and Golden Raisin Scones (makes six)
Switch up the flavors if you like by substituting your favorite dried fruit (or dried fruit combination) for the golden raisins, and/or add a quarter of a cup of your favorite chopped nuts. As with any scone recipe, do not to overwork the dough. We like to shape and cut the scones the minute the sticky dough comes together. If you find the dough a bit too sticky to comfortably work with, dust your work surface, hands and knife lightly with flour.
What kids can do:
Breaking and separating eggs are essential cooking skills that even the youngest cooks can practice (keep some back-up eggs on hand). As kids work with the pastry cutter to mash the butter into the dry flour mixture, invite them to observe how the texture changes. They’ll also love the chance to “paint” the tops of the scones with egg white and sprinkle them with sugar.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup currants or raisins
- sugar for sprinkling the tops
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
- Separate the eggs one at a time, placing the whites and yolks into separate bowls. Set aside the egg whites.
- Add the heavy cream to the bowl with the yolks and whisk them together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix well.
- Cut the cold butter into small chunks and sprinkle onto the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter to mash/incorporate the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Add the oats and golden raisins. Distribute evenly into the flour and butter mixture.
- Add the egg yolk and cream mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together into a sticky dough (do not over work the dough!)
- Lightly flour your hands and pat the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Cut into wedges and place pieces on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Brush the top of each scone with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake about 15 minutes, until golden and hot.
Slow Cooker Spiced Apple-Pear Butter (makes about two pints)
In addition to being a great topping for scones, toast, pancakes, yogurt or oatmeal, you can use this apple-pear butter (or any apple butter/sauce) to replace part or all of the oil in sweet baking recipes, especially ones that might benefit from a boost of sweetness and spice.
What kids can do:
Since you'll need to rough chop the fruit, there’s no need for beautiful, clean cuts. This is a great chance for kids to practice knife skills. For younger cooks, a table knife works well for cutting soft pears and apples that you have cored and broken down into halves or quarters.
- 3 pounds mixed apples and pears (a mix of sweeter and more tart varieties is nice), peeled and cored
- 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- pinch salt
- Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, then cover and cook on high, stirring occasionally, for three hours or until fruit is soft.
- Remove mixture from the slow cooker and place into a large bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes before pureeing in a blender or food processor. Use caution when pureeing warm food as it can splatter.
- Return the pureed apple-pear mixture to the slow cooker and taste for seasoning, adding additional maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, spices or salt to your preference.
- Cook apple-pear mixture covered on low for 8 hours (or overnight). Taste again and adjust seasoning as needed. If your apple-pear butter is not thick enough for your liking, continue cooking uncovered.
- Whatever you don’t use in the next couple of weeks, you can freeze or can.
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are San Francisco moms with a passion for cooking and exploring the world through food. On their blog, A Little Yumminess they share recipes from around the world, favorite foodie destinations and ideas for raising adventurous eaters. They also teach classes, camps and private cooking workshops.