Thursday, December 9, 2010


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.

Apple Scones
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!

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