Apple Banana Scones with Red Gravensteins (and a good 2017 apple forecast)

Russell Powell Recipes 1 Comment

Apple Banana Scones (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple Banana Scones (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THERE’S NOTHING like a good scone for breakfast or a snack, lightly sweetened with fruit and with a crumbly, cake-like texture. But sometimes they can be a little dry, more crumbly than creamy.

Apples make moist, flavorful scones, especially when combined with bananas. The unpeeled apple pieces add color, texture, and just the right amount of sweetness to these baked treats, while the bananas give the “cake” a smooth texture and impart a subtle flavor.

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

This recipe is adapted from one for “World’s Best Scones!” on the website allrecipes.com, and that recipe was previously adapted from recipes from the unnamed author’s Scottish grandmother and the Savoy Hotel in London.

I used Red Gravenstein apples, an early season heirloom “sport” of Gravenstein, meaning that it resulted from a mutant branch rather than from seed.

Apple Banana Scones

1 c flour

1 c whole wheat flour

¼ c sugar

4 t baking powder

1½ t cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg

5 T butter

1 large Gravenstein or other New England apple, cored and chopped into small pieces

2 overripe bananas

¼ c milk

¼ c sour cream

1 egg

1 T milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flours, sugar, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or by rubbing between fingers until it is in pea-sized lumps. Stir in apples.

Mix bananas, sour cream, and ¼ c milk in a small bowl and pour at once into dry ingredients. Stir gently until well blended, being careful not to overwork the dough.

With floured hands, pick up enough dough to press into 2-inch to 3-inch rounds on parchment paper. The scones can just touch each other.

Whisk together egg and 1 T milk. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash, and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops are golden, not dark, brown.

Transfer to cookie rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve plain or with butter or jam. Makes about a dozen.

In the unlikely event that there still are scones the next day, they can be wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in the oven, or cut in half and toasted.

***

NEW ENGLAND’S 2017 APPLE CROP is expected to rebound significantly after last year’s small harvest, which was impacted by poor pollination conditions during spring and a summer-long drought in most parts of the region. Growing conditions this year have so far been good, with few reports of frost, hail, or other weather-related damage.

As a result, 2017 New England apple crop is forecast to be about 38 percent larger than the 2016 crop. At just over 3.9 million 42-pound boxes, New England’s 2017 apple harvest is expected to be about 14 percent higher than the region’s five-year average of 3.4 million boxes.

The harvest is well underway with early season varieties like Gravenstein, and McIntosh should be ready at many orchards over the Labor Day weekend. As always, call ahead to find out what varieties are available. For a listing of orchards, consult the “Orchard Finder” at the New England Apples website.

Here is the the U. S. Apple Association’s official 2017 forecast for New England:

Connecticut’s crop is estimated at 595,000 42-pound boxes, up 94 percent from last year and 19 percent above the state’s five-year average.

Maine anticipates a crop of 1,024,000 boxes, an increase of 22 percent from a year ago, and 29 percent above the state’s five-year average.

Massachusetts predicts 1,095,000 boxes, up 59 percent from 2016, and 19 percent above the five-year average.

Vermont forecasts a crop of 714,000 boxes, 12 percent higher than 2016, and 1 percent below the five-year average of 724,000.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimates, on which the final numbers are based, no longer include smaller apple-producing states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Based on the New England Apple Association’s informal survey, both states are looking at good crops, with New Hampshire at about 450,000 boxes, and Rhode Island about 50,000 boxes, an increase from a year ago and about even with the five-year average.

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