With all of the strange weather we've had here in the UK over the growing season many crops have been early, late or just downright confused as to what they should be doing and when. One of the sad things is that this year's apple harvest is very poor and there may be shortages later on in the season. I love apples and I'm very much hoping that they will still be available for a good while yet, but I guess that some years are always going to be worse than others. It's very odd though - round here (Northwest England) other crops have been difficult - my mum's friend has a tree that is usually groaning under the weight of plums - the branches dip to the ground and have to be supported, yet this year she barely had a single plum.
Anyway, whatever happens later in the season, the new apples are here for now and I intend to make the most of them while they are around. Perfectly in season and all of the chilly weather recently (and the dark mornings closing in - I hate getting up in the dark) has put me in mind of warming autumnal flavours, and for me, that means spice.
Apples take to spicing so well, and I decided to use a combination of mixed spice and then give it a little spin with a bit of nutmeg. This is one of my less used spices simply because I'm a little lazy and nutmeg needs grating just before you use it for the best flavour. The whole nutmegs keep for years, but the fragrance and beautiful aroma of this spice is lost quickly after grating.
Apple and Nutmeg Scones
250g ricotta cheese
a little milk (or water)
60g caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
280g self raising flour
1/4tsp mixed spice
about 1/4 of a small nutmeg, grated
2 small coxes apples, cored but not peeled, cut into small cubes
demerara sugar to sprinkle
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Place the ricotta in a small bowl, beat in the 60g of caster sugar and set aside.
- Place the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter (I used fridge cold butter here)
- Add the muscovado sugar and the spices to the flour and mix well, breaking up any lumps of sugar.
- Add the apples to the flour mixture.
- Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture and bring together as a dough. You will probably need a little extra liquid - I found my mixture quite dry and as I don't usually have milk around, I used a little water to moisten it. I didn't measure it but probably about 4tbsp.
- Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead briefly - more just turning the dough over to bring it together. Pat out into a large square about 1 1/2" or 3cm thick.
- Cut into 16 pieces and transfer to the baking sheet. Scatter with demerara sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.
- Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
It has to be said that these weren't the lightest scones I've ever made, but I'm still enjoying them very much - the warm autumnal spicing, with the unusual addition of nutmeg along with the juicy chunks of apple make a very good combination for a snack time treat or would be great served with some chunks of tasty cheese for a more substantial snack.
I am entering these into alphabakes, hosted this month by Ros of The More than Occasional Baker (cohosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes). The letter this month is N for nutmeg.