The inspiration for these biscuits came from the simple fact that my apples were going bad. I had to do something with them fast or add them to the compost heap.
And so I decided to make apple biscuits, but with a twist. These are much sweeter and more decadent than my usual recipe, and they are simply irresistible.
What You Will Need:
Apples (I used Macintosh)
Dried, sweetened cranberries (I bought mine at The Bulk Barn)
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon (for mixing with the apples)
Juice and Zest of One Lemon
Basic Biscuit Recipe:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
4 Tsp Baking Powder
2-3 Tbs Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/3 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Milk
Step 1: Apples
(Before you start, preheat your oven to 475 F)
Peel, core, and chop your apples. How many you need depends on your personal preference and the size of your apples. My apples were on the small side, so I used 3.
If desired, add a tablespoon of brown sugar and some cinnamon and cook the apples slightly. I cooked mine in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring them every 30 seconds. You can also just leave them raw and let them cook in the oven, which will give you slightly firmer, more tart chunks of apple.
Step 2: Make the Biscuit Mix
1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, pinch of salt, 2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and spices* (if using). Stir together with a whisk, or a fork, until well combined.
2) Cut in 1/3 cup of vegetable shortening, using a pastry blender, or fork, or your hands.... whatever works. Keep going until your mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. (Oops- forgot the pictures for this step. I'll try to add some later.)
3) Now it's time to add in your apples, cranberries, and lemon zest (if using). Give it a quick stir to distribute everything evenly.
4) Last but not least, add 1 cup of milk and mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Now, at this point, most recipes for tea biscuits will tell you to turn the batter out onto a floured board and knead it, then roll it out and use a round cutter to cut your biscuits. My opinion is that biscuit dough should never, ever be kneaded. Ever. It has been my experience that skipping this step produces much lighter, fluffier, softer, edible biscuits, as opposed to the hard, dry, round disks reminiscent of hockey pucks that many people associate with the term "tea biscuit". But of you feel the need to knead, then by all means, go ahead. Otherwise, move on to the next step.
*For the spices I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and a pinch or two of freshly grated nutmeg. I tend to be a little heavy handed with the spices, so you may want to use a little less.
Step 3: Bake
1) Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter into 12 equal portions on a baking sheet. (You can also use a muffin tin.)
2) Top with additional apple pieces and cranberries, if desired.
3) Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over top. (The butter will help make them moist. The sugar is completely unnecessary, but why not?)
4) Bake at 475 F for 15-20 minutes, or until very lightly browned and firm to the touch.
Step 4: Meanwhile...
Make yourself a little dessert from some of the leftover apples and cranberries, brew a cup of tea, and sit down with a good book (Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis is a very good book).
Or you could just move on to the next step.
Step 5: Make the Glaze
In a small bowl, combine icing sugar and lemon juice to make a thick glaze. I didn't really measure anything here, but about 1 cup icing sugar and 2 Tbs lemon juice should be good.
If you don't have a fresh lemon, a little lemon extract and a couple of spoonfuls of milk will do. If you don't like lemon, substitute any other flavour you like.
Step 6: The Finishing Touch
When the biscuits are done, let them cool a little, then drizzle the glaze over top. Leave them out in the open for a few minutes until the glaze dries, then they are ready to serve or store.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They should keep for up to a week (I'm guessing, I've never kept them that long).
If storing longer, refrigerate or freeze. Warm before serving.
Step 7: Get the Party Started
The tea party, that is.
Serve up your apple cranberry biscuits with tea or coffee, as an afternoon snack, dessert, or even breakfast. Just try not to eat them all at once. (Seriously. The first time I made these, I ate two of them straight out of the oven.)
Also makes a great gift, perhaps for a grandmother or elderly neighbour who isn't able to bake anymore and would enjoy some good old fashioned home baking.
Step 8: Reduced Sugar Version
It's hard to satisfy your sweet tooth when you're diabetic. My mom wanted to try one of my biscuits, and she loved it, but her blood glucose level rose significantly afterwards. So I made a reduced sugar version for her.
In the basic mix, replace one cup of the all purpose flour with one cup of whole wheat flour and omit the sugar. (I don't have any photos of this step because I used some mix I already had in the freezer) If you want to make it sweeter, you could add a sugar substitute, such as Splenda.
Next, finely chop half an apple and toss with a little lemon juice and cinnamon. (Leave out the brown sugar.)
Now, anyone who is diabetic knows that cranberries are an absolute no-no. Sweetened, dried cranberries (aka craisins) are a double no-no. So I used just 2 tbs and chopped them finely so that they distribute evenly and every biscuit will have a bit.
The final modification is the size. You will notice that these biscuits are significantly smaller. A biscuit that is approximately 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 an inch thick is equal to one starchy choice and one fats and oils choice (Canadian Diabetes Association Food Choice Values).
I was in a hurry when I made these and forgot to add the lemon zest, but I would recommend using lemon/orange zest as it is a good way to add extra flavour without adding any additional sugar.
Step 9: A Little Something Extra
Of course, they shouldn't have any glaze on them, but I won't tell if you don't ;-)