“Scone” was the first English word I learned when very good fortune landed me in Cambridge, England for the second semester of my junior year in college.
It’s truly a miracle I didn’t become a body-double for Boris Johnson after my six months in England. My friend Courtney and I seemed to be on a mission to see how many carbs could be consumed during a study abroad program. Every, and I mean every, afternoon, meant a visit either to Auntie’s Tea Shop or to the tea shop at the Girton College library, where we often studied.
That’s right. In England, even the libraries had their own tea shop/bakeries, where people would dutifully stop their work at 4 pm each day to take in a cuppa and carb-load. Sure took the pain out of poring over medieval literature.
In Cambridge, the scones are served with clotted cream and jam. After scarfing this down, we would typically (I am not making this up) split a slice of chocolate cake for dessert! Because, we were 20 and still had metabolisms.
But that’s not all. Several evenings a week, when my flat mates and I would tire of studying, one of us would produce a Cadbury dark chocolate bar, which we would chop up and stir into all-butter cookie dough. Sometimes we even baked the cookies, but most often, we gathered round the bowl and ate fistfuls of the stuff.
Dignified, I know.
(pictured above: Courtney & me in our best 1980s Benetton sweaters, our flat on Madingley Road, Cambridge, and Auntie’s, now closed, may it rest in peace).
My waistline was saved only by the fact that we lived in a flat about a mile outside of town, and had to bike everywhere—to our tutorials, to the library, to the grocery, to the pub.
When I returned home at the end of the year, I found that, in 1987, “scone” was still a foreign word in Charlottesville, Virginia, so I had to learn to bake my own.
I have a number of favorites—savory cheese scones, lemon blueberry scones and cranberry-white chocolate scones among them—but my favorite may be this recipe for apple oatmeal scones. They make a dandy breakfast on a cool fall or winter day, and are even better reheated in the toaster oven, if you have any left.
Apple Oatmeal Scones
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup oats
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup butter, chilled
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 Tbs. molasses
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¾ cup diced Granny Smith apple (unpeeled)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch diameter circle in the center of a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and distribute over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs. (This part could also be done in a food processor, just don’t over-mix or you’ll have tough scones).
- In a small bowl, stir together the egg, milk, molasses, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. The dough will be sticky.
- Stir in the chopped apple.
- Spread the dough into an 8-inch diameter circle in the center of the prepared baking sheet.
- With a serrated knife, cut into 8 wedges.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until nicely browned and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.