Since starting this blog just over 6 months (!!!) ago, I’ve been patiently waiting to give you a cranberry recipe. My go-to pick for either muffins or scones is almost always cranberry-orange (with blueberry being a very close second) because it’s such a classic combination that works so well in baked goods. But back in April, there were absolutely no cranberries for sale and I knew I would have to wait until at least October to get my hands on a bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries.
Last week, I went to Trader Joe’s wishing and hoping it would be cranberry time, but alas, they were nowhere to be found and I was told by an employee that the berries wouldn’t be in stock until a week or so into November. I was pretty bummed about it, but that all changed when I went to Growers Direct: a small grocery store that only sells fresh fruits and veggies. There, they had bags upon bags of beautiful cranberries and I bought three immediately - I will not forget to save and freeze them this year! Moral of the story, your local grocery store may not have cranberries in stock just yet, but with November just around the corner, they’ll be available very, very soon. You can maybe try looking at your city’s farmers market as well.
When it comes to making scones, there are a few tips that I need to give you to succeed:
1) You want to keep the dough as cold as possible. This means none of your ingredients will be room temperature, and actually, I’d prefer that you’d measure out your buttermilk and cut up your butter into its small pieces, and then place them back into the fridge until they’re needed for the recipe. You can even freeze the butter if it’s extra hot in your kitchen the day you bake them. To take this one step further, I also would suggest using frozen cranberries over fresh (and of course, you can use dried cranberries as well if that’s all you can get your hands on at the time). Keeping the dough cold ensures that your scones get the rise that defines these baked goods and it also gives you that flaky and crisp exterior that we all love.
If for whatever reason your oven isn’t preheated by the time you’re ready to pop the scones in, keep the scones in the fridge until the oven reaches the designated temperature. OR, if you feel like you took too long when you were rolling out the dough and cutting out the wedges, then go ahead and pop them in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Unbaked scones are also freezer friendly, and can be stored there for up to 1 month if wrapped tightly (just let them defrost slightly on the counter before placing in the oven).
2) It is very important that you refrain from over-mixing the dough. Too much mixing causes your scones to be tough and won’t give you the perfect scone texture. Therefore, I highly suggest not using a food processor or a stand mixer/hand mixer. When I add my wet ingredients to my dry ingredients, I only use a wooden spoon, and then I rely on my hands to do the rest (mixing in the cranberries and rolling out the dough). A lot of professional bakers prefer using their hands to mix scone and biscuit doughs, and I don’t think anyone should shy away from this method.
3) Brush the unbaked scones with liquid and sprinkle with sugar. The liquid can be either buttermilk, heavy cream, or an egg wash, and since we’re using buttermilk in the actual scones themselves, it makes the most sense to use it for the tops as well. This step allows the scones to have a more golden color. As for the sugar, the scones themselves aren’t that sweet so it’s nice to add a bit more sweetness as well as creating a slight crunchy texture. You can use granulated sugar, but I prefer using turbinado sugar. Either works just fine!
And that’s it! I hope baking scones doesn’t sound too overwhelming to you. Just carefully read through the directions before making any moves and you’ll have delicious scones in no time.
P.S. I hope everyone has a great Halloween!
Glazed Cranberry-Orange Scones
Yields 8 scones
Recipe adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appétit
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Zest of 1 large orange (save the juice for glaze)
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2” pieces
1 cup buttermilk, chilled, plus more for brushing
1 cup cranberries, preferably frozen but fresh works too
Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar), for sprinkling on top
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. Whisk in the orange zest.
Add the butter pieces to the mixture by working with your hands or a pastry cutter, and rub the mixture together until it resembles course crumbs. Slowly add the buttermilk, mixing it in by hand or by a wooden spoon. Very carefully, fold in the cranberries.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a couple of times (some cranberries may roll away, but you can just stick them back in). Using your hands or a rolling pin, work the dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges.
Transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each scone. Brush each scone with buttermilk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake the scones in the oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops are a light golden brown. Let the scones cool for about 15 minutes before adding the glaze.
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze generously over each scone. Enjoy fresh out of the oven, or store in an airtight container at room temperature.