It’s amazing how relaxed I am feeling after the assault of Christmas. It shouldn’t be like that but it was and it is. I swear I will do it differently each year but it always ends up the same – stress, stress, and more stress. Enough.
In the oh so wonderful aftermath of rising late, pottering around and having the time to indulge, I am finally finding the peace again.
Midweek, I made the decision to make sultana scones for breakfast instead of eating breakfast AND then baking AND eating scones for morning tea. Yes, this is what I call post-Christmas lean eating! There was a reason. I have wanted to make apple butter for a long time and I have wanted to participate in Cookbook Sundays, since Sue at Couscous and Consciousness began hosting it a few months ago. Two very good reasons.
I don’t know much about fruit butters. The first thing I learned was that apple butter does not contain butter. The second was that I had imagined it would turn out to be a pale, apple sauce-type spread but it was much darker in colour and had the texture of a smooth chutney. (It was supposed to be the consistency of room temperature butter but my effort was not quite as thick as that).
Whether or not my first attempt was any good, I liked it. I imagine it would go well with a good sharp cheddar cheese or a Brie, or served with cold meats especially ham and pork. It kind of reminded me of a softer, runnier, more intense version of fruit paste. On the sweet side, it could accompany waffles or pancakes or, as I found, scones. Versatile then. I am sure some of you reading this will have lots of ideas on pairing apple butter and other fruit butters and I would love to hear some other ideas.
When I was trying to think of how I would eat it, I thought of the taste of stuffed, baked apples and came up with the idea of pairing the butter with sultana scones and I think it works. Well, you know, it worked for me.
The recipe comes from a book The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, which I bought in Taranaki (New Zealand) many years ago and I am almost sure I have not cooked anything from it. The bookshop called Simply Read was in a lovely little red building down by the surf coast – a wonderful place to visit. I am not vegetarian but I do enjoy trying different recipes using vegetables.
This is why Cookbook Sundays appealed to me. Not just finding a cookbook that I have used seldom (or not at all) and testing a recipe, but finding new things to try and interacting with a wider audience to learn more.
I made a smaller amount of the apple butter recipe given and found that the liquid evaporated so I topped it up. I have posted the full recipe below (maybe you need to use the full amount so it won’t evaporate!?).
For the scones, I just used a basic recipe and added some sultanas so they’re really just a pairing up for the apple butter and did not appear in the same book.
The photographer was back at work so it was just me and the point and shoot camera. I had the time and that is part of the enjoyment. To have the time to shoot the photos inside and if that doesn’t work, try outside. To take the time to create the mood and style the photo. To have no rush, except to eat the scones still warm from the oven with a dollop of spicy apple butter on top. Bliss.
Apple butter (makes just over 2 pints or 1.4 litre)
3 ½ lb/1.6kg tart green apples
16 fl oz/450ml apple juice
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp molasses
Peel, quarter and core the apples but don’t discard the peels or cores. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the quartered apples to keep them from browning.
Place just the peel and cores in a saucepan with the apple juice and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Strain the juice and discard the solids.
Add the quartered apples and the remaining ingredients to the juice and simmer, stirring often, until the apples are very soft. Press the mixture through a fine sieve or puree in a blender.
Continue cooking the apple butter over a low heat, stirring often, until it is very thick and smooth. Spoon into hot, sterile jars leaving about 1/3 in/8mm of a gap between the mixture and the top of the jar, and seal.
Makes about 8-10 scones
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp sugar
1¾ oz/50g butter, cold, diced finely or grated
½ cup sultanas
1 cup milk, approximately
Pre-heat oven to 230°C
Grease a baking tin or line a tray with baking paper.
Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl.
Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add sultanas and mix gently to combine.
Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in most of the milk. Using a wide knife (I use a palette knife), mix together to a soft, sticky dough. Add more milk from your measure if the mixture is not sticky enough.
On a lightly floured board or surface, gently knead the dough and press out to ¾ inch/2cm thickness.
Using a flour dusted cookie cutter or knife, cut the dough into desired shapes and place the scones close together (almost touching) on the tray or tin. Brush the tops with a little extra milk.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops are golden and cooked through – the scones should sound hollow when tapped with your fingertips.
Serve with some real butter and a dollop of apple butter.
Scones are best served warm and on the day they are made. However they can be frozen.