The mid-90s are a bit of a blur for me. I was working full-time, Max was a baby prone to frequent ear infections alternating with the croup and Dan was working extremely long hours and was home basically to sleep. There was one thing I looked forward to each day: my afternoon scone. My afternoon scone was made by the Grand Marnier Café on Broadway between 55th and 56th streets. It was the size of a softball, and it’s soft, eggy center was filled with sweet, juicy blueberries. The top had a delightful sugar crunch, the shards of which would either fall into my lap or onto whatever manuscript I was working on.
The afternoon scone and the accompanying café au lait would sometimes have to tide me over until lunch the next day. The working-mom thing had me so busy there were many nights that after I finally got Max to sleep, I would then choose sleep over food. I was kinda goofy during that time, but I was thin. Sigh.
The Grand Marnier Café closed sometime after I moved to Los Angeles. Every time I go back home I pass by that block, hoping maybe it’s been revived. Since I’ve yet to find a decent gluten-free scone, I’ve taken it upon myself to re-create those amazing treats. Since blueberries aren’t in season now and I don’t like raisins, I went with apples. California-grown Fujis are in season now, and they are mouth-watering. They also don’t stain clothing or papers when they manage to elude your mouth. Biting into a sweet, juicy apple-y bit is almost as thrilling as biting into a sweet, juicy blueberry-y bit. When blueberries are in season, you can bet that blueberry scones will be on the menu.
Makes about 12 scones
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
I tried to duplicate these as best as I could. They don’t taste exactly like the works of art from the Grand Marnier Café, probably because these are gluten-free. I used a sweet Fuji apple here, but feel free to use whichever kind of apple you like best. With regard to the shapes, I’m a complete spaz and cannot be counted on to cut triangles deftly. So I used a biscuit cutter. If you have a natural talent for triangle cutting, chuck the biscuit cutter and do your worst.
1½ cup GF Classical Blend flour, or your favorite gf flour
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about ¾ cup)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment.
2. In a food processor, add flours, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the butter resembles small peas and the ingredients are well combined. If you don’t own a food processor (or you just don’t feel like washing the blade and bowl), pour everything into a mixing bowl and work the butter into the dry ingredients using your hands.
3. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together 3 eggs and the half-and-half. Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chopped apple. Turn the dough out onto a clean, well-floured surface and knead it 10 times, no more. If it’s sticky, add a bit more flour, but not too much. It should be a bit sticky.
4. Shape the dough into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle and either cut shapes with a biscuit cutter or cut triangles with a knife. If you’re using a biscuit cutter, you can shape the dough into a circle, which is what I did. Reshape leftover dough and cut more scones. Repeat until you are out of dough.
5. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush the top of each scone with a pastry brush. Sprinkle each scone with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
6. Bake until the scones are golden brown, about 14 minutes. They will last about 2 days, so get eating!