Cranberry Orange Scones

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By Emily Paster

This is perhaps the third scone recipe I have published. How often can one person make scones, you may ask. Well, you see, I often have some of my girlfriends over for coffee during the week and when I do so, I like to make a special treat for them. But I have a limited time — maybe an hour — in which to bake something between dropping my kids at school and when my guests arrive. Scones and biscuits are the perfect project for such a quick turnaround because they don't take long to bake, unlike, say, a quick bread or coffee cake which needs up to an hour in the oven. I suppose muffins would work to, but given a choice, I would pick a scone over a muffin any day.

I am always on the lookout for a truly great scone recipe — one that produces moist, flaky and flavorful scones. This time, I really think I have hit on the perfect scone. It's not original to me, but adapted from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Her recipe is for strawberry scones; mine plainly is not. That should give you one hint about the value of this recipe: the flavors and filling can be altered depending on the season or what you have in your house. In the summer, for example, I might try a Blueberry Lemon Scone or a Strawberry Lime Scone. A raisin or currant scone is always a good choice as well.

Of course, it is the holiday season now and cranberries just beg to be used at holiday time. Hence, a cranberry orange scone. I am still working off the large supply of cranberries that I bought at the end of the Oak Park Farmers Market and froze. But if you don't have a freezer stash, you can easily find fresh cranberries in the grocery stores at this time of year. Cranberry and orange is a classic flavor combination and a perfect pairing in this recipe, if you ask me. Bake a batch of these for your holiday guests or to bring to a breakfast or brunch gathering. They take an hour of your time and the results are well worth it. This recipe makes ten to twelve large scones, so it is perfect for feeding a crowd.

I made these scones for my friends last Friday and everyone raved about them. Here is where I reveal that my scones had a secret ingredient. I replaced the four chicken eggs with three of the duck eggs that I scored at the last Chicago Food Swap. Everyone says that the extra-rich yolks of duck eggs will make your baked goods incredibly rich and tender. I don't know if that is true or not, but I will say that these were the best scones I have ever made. Was it the recipe? Was it the duck eggs? We won't know for sure until I try this recipe again with chicken eggs.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Glaze

  • For the scones:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 TB baking powder
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 4 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water for egg wash
  • Turbinado sugar
  • For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 TB freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with Silpat baking liners or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add the orange zest.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the cold cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, but pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
  4. Mix together the four beaten eggs and cup of cream and add all at once to the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir dough with a fork until it comes together.
  6. Gather dough in your hands and knead it against the side of the bowl until it forms a ball.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it out into a large circle until it is between 3/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Cut the dough into twelve wedges and place six on each of the baking sheets.
  9. Place between 5 and 6 cranberries on the top of each scone and press them in slightly.
  10. Brush tops and sides of scones with egg wash and sprinkle tops with Turbinado sugar.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are browned and the scones are cooked through.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.
  13. While the scones are cooling, whisk together the orange juice and confectioner's sugar in a small bowl.
  14. Once the scones are cool, drizzle the glaze over the scones and serve.

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