Fresh juicy diced apples are in abundance in these apple cinnamon scones. Fragrant cinnamon flavors the buttery scone dough. A crunchy cinnamon and brown sugar topping contrast the moist scones. These are the best apple scones!
Tips for flaky, moist scones
- Use cold ingredients! Unlike many baking recipes which call for room temperature ingredients, the scones work better with cold ingredients. Keep the egg, cream and butter cold until just ready to use them. Using cold cream and eggs allows the butter to remain solid and coated in the dry ingredients. This makes a moist and flaky scone.
- Frozen, grated butter: Grating frozen butter helps the butter incorporate into the dry ingredients easier and with the least amount of mixing. If you don't have much time, even freezing the butter for 30 minutes before grating will help. I highly recommend doing it this way but if you prefer to skip the freezing and grating steps, cut very cold butter into small cubes and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the dry ingredients until the butter is incorporated throughout and the mixture is the size of small peas.
- Freeze the scones for about 30 minutes before baking or refrigerating for 1 hour. I know we all like instant gratification, me especially, but this step is also crucial as it will help prevent the scones from spreading when they bake. It prevents the butter from melting too quickly in the oven which can cause spreading. It also allows the gluten to relax helping the scones keep their shape.
- Don’t overmix. Overmixing the dough will develop dense and chewy scones. For the flaky lightness that we are looking for, avoid overworking the dough. If using a stand mixer like in my recipe, only mix the butter and then the wet ingredients for about 30 seconds each before dumping the dough onto your surface and gently forming it into a disc.
- Don't overbake. You can easily go from moist scones to dry scones with just a few extra minutes of baking. Watch the scones toward the end of the baking time and remove them from the oven when they are just starting to turn golden brown on the bottom.
Best apples for baking
You typically want a firmer apple when baking so that it doesn't lose its shape. The sweetness of the apple really depends on what you are baking and can be countered with either less or more sugar and your personal preference for how sweet you want your apple cinnamon scones.
- Honeycrisp: This is the chosen apple for this recipe and for most of my recipes containing apples. It's perfect because it is a firm and crisp apple so it will hold its shape and adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the cheesecake. A Pink Lady apple can be a less expensive substitute for Honeycrisps.
- Braeburn: Also a sweet apple with some slight tartness, braeburns fit the bill due to not turning mushy when baked.
- Jonathans: This is the apple I remember picking as a child in Illinois. These apples are grown all over the midwest and are juicy, sweet and firm.
- Granny Smith: The apple of choice for a traditional apple pie, this variety is the most tart of the bunch with more tang than sweetness.
To keep these apple cinnamon scones flaky and moist, the dough is shaped into one round disc about an inch high. Then cut the scones with a sharp knife in the shape you would cut a pizza.
Cutting the scones this way prevents using a cookie-cutter which inevitably leaves scraps that either get discarded or re-rolled and cut again. This either produces waste or tough, dense scones due to over-working the dough.
Also, just like you would with biscuits, cut one time cleanly through the dough without using a sawing motion. This helps the scones rise more.
How to make the cinnamon crunch topping
The cinnamon crunch topping is soooo delicious and adds such a great contrast in texture to the soft, buttery scone.
To make the cinnamon crunch topping, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir it together until a crumbly paste forms.
When the scones have spent about 30 minutes in the freezer, remove them and brush them with melted butter. Pile the cinnamon sugar topping on each scone and then press it down onto the top of the scone to keep it from falling off.
It's really important to line the baking sheet with parchment paper as some of the cinnamon sugar topping will fall off the edges and melt while cooking. Parchment paper makes clean up a breeze so that you don't have to chisel any burnt sugar off the cookie sheet.
Preventing the bottoms from burning
Scones can sometimes burn on the bottoms and not be quite done on top. If you find this happening, the best way to prevent it is to double up your cookie sheets.
This provides an extra layer of insulation and prevents the bottom of the scones from burning while allowing the rest of the scone to cook through.
How to store scones
Scones are best when eaten the same day they are baked and even better when they are still slightly warm from the oven. However, you can store these scones in an airtight container for 2-3 days on the counter.
The cinnamon crunch topping will lose some of its crunchiness over time. To rewarm the scone, you can place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
Can the scones be frozen?
These apple cinnamon scones can be frozen and baked later. To do this, let them freeze for the 30 minutes called for in the recipe. Instead of baking, place the frozen, unbaked scones into a zip-top bag and squeeze the air out.
You can store them like this for up to a month or two. To bake them, remove them from the oven, place them on a baking sheet. Brush them with the melted butter and then add the cinnamon crunch topping.
They will need 2-3 more minutes to bake from fully frozen but make sure you keep your eye on them toward the end of the baking time.
For more scone recipes, check out:
Tag me on Instagram @themarblekitchenblog if you make this and leave a star rating and comment below! Thank you and enjoy!
Apple Cinnamon Scones with Cinnamon Crunch Topping
- 2 cups flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter frozen and grated
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup heavy cream cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped apples (Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Fugi) peeled, ½ inch dice (about 1 large apple)
Cinnamon Crunch Topping
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter melted, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the cold grated butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is mostly combined and the dough looks craggy, about 20-30 seconds.
- Mix the egg, ½ cup of heavy cream, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the flour and butter mixture. Mix for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped apples and mix until just combined. The dough will look lumpy and may not be fully incorporated yet!
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and use your hands to form it into a disc pressing any dry ingredients into the dough to combine. If the dough seems too dry you can add more heavy cream to help bring it together.
- Shape the dough into a circle, about 1-inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. You should still see small pieces of butter in the dough. Slice the circle into 8 wedges. Place the scones onto the prepared sheet pan.
- Place the sheet pan with the scones into the freezer for 30 minutes or into the refrigerator for 1 hour. After chilling, brush the tops of the scones evenly with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Pile the cinnamon crunch topping evenly over the scones and then press the topping into the top of the scones using your fingers.
- Bake for about 13-15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and the scones look set with the topping browning. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely .
Cinnamon Crunch Topping
- Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter in a small bowl until a crumbly paste forms.
- Scones are usually best when eaten the same day they are baked but you can store these scones in an airtight container for 2-3 days on the counter.
- To make these ahead, you can freeze the scones on the baking sheet as in the recipe but once frozen, transfer the scones to a zip-top bag or other container and freeze until ready to bake. Add the cinnamon crunch topping just before baking. They may require an extra minute or two of baking time due to being completely frozen.