by Sheila Connolly
I was going to give you a break from apple recipes, but ‘tis the season, and I’ve still got lots of apples on the trees. The Northern Spy variety isn’t supposed to finish ripening until November, so there’s still a ways to go. I’ll admit I’m craving something savory—meat! Fat! Salt!—but you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Besides, it’s launch week for A Gala Event, so there must be apples!
I came upon this recipe in the Boston Globe. As an aside, when I first lived in the Boston area, the food pickings were kind of slim. The Grand Old Restaurants, like Locke-Ober’s, were still producing traditional meals that would make grandparents happy. I knew of Savenor’s Market in Cambridge only because Julia Child said she shopped there (I got hooked on her TV series early). Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, out in Sudbury, was turning out more or less the same dishes as in my great-great-grandfather’s time (he ate there in 1910). Ken’s Steak House was thriving. And I’ll confess, in my first apartments, with roommates, kielbasa appeared in about half our meals. Gourmets we were not, although a friend did introduce me to homemade bouillabaisse.
Things have changed! Now the Boston Globe has a weekly section devoted to all things food. New restaurants have sprung up like mushrooms both in the city and in the burbs, as have farmers’ markets. It’s a good time to be a foodie! (Which came first, the food or the foodie?)
One note about this recipe: as original given, it called for mixing the ingredients by hand, rubbing in the butter, etc. In general I support this, because if you use machines you risk over-processing your recipe, which can toughen dough. However, this recipe lends itself to using a food processor, as long as you limit yourself to pulsing the ingredients until you reach the right consistency. You can choose whichever method you want.
Apple Scone Cake
1-2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk or water (for glaze)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt to blend them. Add the butter and with your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. [Note: this can all be done in the bowl of your food processor.]
In another bowl, whisk the whole egg and milk. With a fork, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture [or add to the food processor and pulse a few times]. Mix until it forms a dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly until it’s smooth (it won’t take long). Divide the dough in half. Roll one piece of the dough to a 10-inch round and slip it into the pan, pressing it up along the sides.
Note: rolled to the right size, the dough will be very thin. Don’t worry—it puffs up in cooking!
Arrange the apple slices, slightly overlapping, in circles over the layer of dough. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Roll the second piece of dough to a 9-inch round. Lay it on top of the apples and press the edges of the two layers of dough together to seal them.
Brush the pastry with egg-yolk glaze.
Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Take the cake out of the pan and finish cooling.
This isn’t a very sweet cake. You could easily serve it for breakfast or afternoon tea. For dessert, you could dress it up with some powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.