It is a baking kind of a day in the pizzeria on the pyramid, the mess hall on the mountain, the bakery on the bluff, the restaurant on the ridge, the snack bar on the summit, the tearoom at the tippy top—okay, you get my point.
Half the fun of cooking is the slight torture of anticipation you can put others through as they enter into your busy kitchen. I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, but over here, autumn’s dropping temperatures subconsciously remind everyone to bulk up. There’s nothing like the smell of sweet, roasting pumpkins, bright, tangy cranberries and the heady scent of cinnamon to get the gang to gather round the oven door.
Today, my kitchen is doing a blind taste test. Since, in less than a week’s time, our tiny town will open a Trader Joe’s, I’ve decided to place a wager against their delectable packaging and my homemade recipe.
The contest is one of scones. Now remember, there’s a lot of English know-how leaning over my shoulder for this one, but I figure Joe’s has had a few folks weigh in on what will have mass appeal.
Trader Joes’ Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix
My Roasted Apple, Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Scones.
My fingers are crossed I come out the winner. Regardless, we’ll all be working on that extra layer of pudge.
Test kitchen results are at the bottom.
Roasted Apple, Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Makes 12 medium-sized scones
3 choice baking apples (around 1 lb.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 ½ Tblsp mixed with ¼ tsp cinnamon for sprinkling
2 tsp. salt
6 Tblsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (3 oz.) dried sour cherries
1/4 cup (3 oz.) chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs, 1 for the dough, 1 for the glaze
Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core apples. Dice into 1-inch chunks. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange fruit chunks on parchment and roast until dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool the fruit. (I tucked mine into the freezer for 10 minutes) Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.
Whisk flours, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Toss in cooled apple, heavy cream, cherries, bits of butter and 1 egg. Mix the dough on low speed until it just comes together. Don’t over mix. Add the chocolate chunks and mix for 5 seconds more.
On a very well floured counter, pat out dough into a 5 by 7-inch rectangle. Cut the 7 inch stretch into thirds, slice the 5 inch stretch in half and then diagonally slice each square to make triangular wedges. You may find that extra flour is required to keep the dough from sticking. (I powdered my hands, my knife for every slice and the pie serving wedge utensil I used to transfer each scone to the baking sheet.) Transfer to baking sheet at least two inches apart.
Whisk remaining egg in a small dish with a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake scones until firm and golden, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix
Follow the box. Super simple. Such a breeze. Totally cheating.
RESULTS FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
Homemade votes = 5 1/2
The mix votes =1/2
Everyone who came into the house for the next two days was forced to take at least two bites of each. My scones were much sweeter, but less crumbly than TJ’s. Furthermore, the fruit will add moisture, so keep that in mind if you like a more crumbly texture. Maybe take out the apples or roast them down to a shrivel.
In truth, as long as you’ve baked a little love into it, it all tastes divine …