Flaky, moist scones filled with tart apple slices and flavored with cinnamon and an apple reduction for the perfect apple pie taste.
Apple Pie Scones
Apple pie for breakfast anyone? My answer: hellayeah! I wish I could tell you I remembered how I got this idea but I don’t except that it’s fall and pie season is around the corner and I already have a ton of apples in my kitchen. Oh and also, I’m cider obsessed. I initially created this recipe with some reduced cider (which you’ll hear me talk about a lot on this blog) but found a way to make these taste just like apple pie without it, with all the apple pie components!
Making scones you actually want to eat
This recipe is more or less based on my babka scones (wildly popular, already!). Sometimes I make something, score success and then I get a little obsessed with it and make several different versions. Tbh, I have never been a huge scone person, but the base for my babka scone recipe was so good I have been using it and making scones about twice a week. A good scone is one that is both moist and has crunchy edges but also has a really good complex flavor (instead of merely dotting it with blueberries, ya know?).
Scones that taste like Apple Pie
And these, wow, these come in hard and fast with the flavor and the texture. There’s vanilla and there’s cinnamon but also we’re going to pull the flavor from the apples themselves and add it to the dough. I do this by macerating the apples in sugar, straining them then reducing the liquid into a syrup. Beyond just having apples and cinnamon, this is what truly makes these scones earn the ‘apple pie’ title.
I had initially flavored these with reduced cider (SO GOOD) but after letting the apples soften I saw the liquid that had gathered at the bottom and decided to use that instead for a few reasons, a. you don’t have to pull out another ingredient or add a step for the recipe, b. the liquid was already there so might as well make use of it, and c. not everyone has access to fresh apple cider so this would be a world-friendly recipe.
How to make scones that are both moist and flaky
To do this you need a balance of butter, heavy cream and eggs.
Flaky: Butter melts in the oven it puffs up and helps create those flaky layers that you find in biscuits, croissants and any laminated dough. A few notes about how to incorporate butter:
- Make sure it’s very cold when you add it to the dry ingredients. I remove mine from the fridge, cut it into cubes and then set it back in the fridge or freezer until the moment I need it.
- Use a pastry cutter to cut it into the flour and you don’t want giant chunks but you also don’t want it to disappear into the dough, pea sized is perfect.
- Layer the dough on top of itself a few times. I’ll ask you to roll it out, fold it over, then repeat twice more. This helps create more layers of butter which melt, puff up and make the scones flaky.
Moist: This is the work of the fat from the heavy cream and the egg(s). I used to make scones sans egg but found that while flaky, they were pretty dry within a few hours.
Apple Pie Filling: Soft or Crunchy Apples?
This is a debate isn’t it? Depending on how you like the apples in your filling that’s how long you will macerate the apples. I like to leave mine for a few hours so that I get just a little bit of crunch post-bake. Leaving them longer also releases more of the juice from the apples which we’ll concentrate into a syrup to add it to the dough. If you want them super crunch, leave them about an hour.
Also, how you cut the apples will have an effect on how long they take to soften and release juices. I use a mandolin for very thin slices.
Can I double the recipe?
Absolutely! In fact I recommend it. Since these need to freeze before they are baked, you can keep them in the container in the freezer for a month or more, and whenever you feel like having one – pop it into the oven!
Why should I freeze scone dough before baking?
Simply because they bake better! They’ll hold shape and this also goes back to the butter, very cold or frozen butter will melt in the oven rather than at room temp to create those flaky layers. In the case of this dough or my babka scones there’s another reason to freeze the log: clean cuts so you get that gorgeous, clean view of all the layers.
How to get crunchy tops on scones
This is pretty simple: while they are still frozen (so, when your oven is preheated and right when you remove them from the freezer), brush heavy cream on top of the dough and sprinkle the sugar. I use an organic sugar and sprinkle liberally to get a really crunchy matte look on the top. The heavy cream freezes quickly atop the frozen dough so brush a few, then sprinkle the sugar, and repeat.
How to make Apple Pie Scones
- Macerate the apples with sugar and flavorings
- Whisk dry ingredients together, cut in butter
- Add wet ingredients and form into a ball
- Roll out the dough, fold over and repeat
- Spread drained apples, roll up into a log.
- Freeze, slice. Freeze, bake.
Ingredient Information & Substituions:
- Apples: I used Granny Smith apples; most traditional to apple pie. I think a tart, firm apple is best for this recipe. Slice them really thin, a mandoline slicer does wonders.
- Brown Sugar: Light brown but dark could also work. Granulated would be fine too but you’ll miss the caramel, molasses taste you only get from brown.
- Heavy Cream: The fat from the heavy cream contributes to the moistness of these. You may substitute with light cream if necessary.
- Eggs: Add moisture to the dough. Guessing that a flax egg could work – have not tried it though.
- Butter: creates flavorful flaky scones. A signature ingredient. No substitutions.
- Baking powder: for leavening the scones. No substitutes.
- Reduced apple cider: fresh cider that has been boiled into a concentrated ‘syrup’. If you don’t have it, you can drain the liquid from the apples after they have macerated and cook it to remove some of the water.
Recipe for Apple Pie Scones
Glaze recipe: whisk together 1 cup organic powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon reduced cider, 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk. Thicken as needed with powdered sugar, if it’s too thick add more heavy cream.
Apple Pie Scones
- pastry knife for cutting in the butter
- Two small apples thinly sliced (210g of slices)
- a couple of tablespoons of sugar
- Sprinkle of salt squeeze of lemon, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups flour 270g
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter 113g, very cold and cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons reduced cider
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- In a bowl, combine the apple slices and brown sugar. Add a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon and some cinnamon (½ tsp is what I use). Let the apple slices macerate for at least an hour, preferably 2-3.
- Once the apples are soft, you’ll see a liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Strain the apples and set them aside.
- Whisk together the reduced juice, heavy cream, egg and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until you the butter is pea sized. Pour in the liquid ingredients and combine with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together in a ball. Use your hands to bring it together.
- Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and flatten the dough into a thick rectangle. Roll it out into a rectangle to about ½ inch thickness. Spread the drained apples all over the dough, leaving a border.
- Roll up the dough into a log from the shorter side, try not to have a too thick log otherwise it will take longer to bake in the oven and the bottoms will over-bake.
- Slice the log into V shapes, you’ll have about 9 scones. Set on the parchment paper with space between each scone. Return to freezer for at least an hour to completely freeze scones.
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush the top of the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on the bottom.