1. They’re pretty in an imperfectly pretty sort of way.
2. They’re fun to make, once you’ve got the process down.
3. They’re delicious.
4. They are the perfect do-ahead (and we all know how much I love do-aheads).
5. They’re adaptable to any flavor combo you can think up.
There are more reasons, but I’ll keep it at just those five for today.
While fall seems to have come and gone in a flurry, I still feel like I waited for forever for fresh cranberries to show up. But, alas, they finally have. And as soon as they did these scones moved to the top of my list.
I made them that day, baked one & enjoyed it myself, then flash froze the rest of them for a later date. I ended up baking them straight from the freezer the weekend we had guests in town. If you’re looking for that perfect baked good that makes you look like the hostess with the mostess (and does so effortlessly, even when sleeping in), I would recommend keeping a batch of these (or another flavor variety) in your freezer at all times.
You’re wondering how they tasted? The texture – spot on. As Cook’s Illustrated puts it, they are “tender and flaky, like a slightly sweetened biscuit.” I adapted CI’s version of Cream Scones with Currants to suit the cranberry orange combo by adding a bit more sugar (to cut the bittersweet cranberries) and plenty of orange zest. The cranberry and orange combo is a winning one, perfect for the season. My plan is to wait out the pending bitter cold of winter with plenty of these in the freezer, ready to bake at moment’s notice.
Cranberry Orange Scones
Yield: 8 scones
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes*
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh (or frozen cranberries), chopped**
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, optional
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Which together or process with six 1-second pulses.
3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. If using a food processor, remove the cover and distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with twelve 1-second pulses. Add the cranberries and quickly mix in or pulse one more time. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.
4. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
5. Transfer the dough and all dry flour bits to a countertop and knead the dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Pat the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch-thick circle (about 8 inches in diameter). (CI also recommends placing the dough in an 8-inch cake pan, then turning it out. I have never tried it this way). With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet. (I place a smaller baking sheet inside a larger one to prevent the bottom from browning before the middle of the scone is done). If you would like glazed scones (I always do), brush the tops of the scones with 1 tablespoon heavy cream then sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar before baking them. (If you don’t like your scones too sweet, you can reduce the sugar in the recipe to 3 Tablespoons or omit the sugar on top).
6. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (CI makes a point to insist that you wait this 10 minutes, the texture will be much better if you do).
*For the butter, I like to cut it before I even get the other ingredients out & stick it in a bowl in the freezer. By the time everything else is ready, the butter is really cold and ready to be mixed in to the dough.
**After making these twice, I’ve found that I prefer to freeze the fresh cranberries, then process them just a few times in the food processor (with the metal blade attachment) to get smaller pieces. This way produces irregular pieces which I thought made the overall scones taste more like cranberry, even when using the same amount. Plus, the little specs of cranberry mixed with near whole cranberries was, I thought, visually appealing.
***If you are going to flash freeze, simply do everything through Step 5, then place the unbaked scones on a cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then, store in a freezer bags. When baking from the freezer, simply add a few minutes onto the baking time.
****Finally, if you are struggling with the dough, I found this YouTube video helpful.