Scents of the Holidays…
There are certain aromas that become inextricably linked to the holidays. The fresh, sharp smell of a fir tree decorated with care. The spicy, sweet scent of gingerbread men cooling on the counter, waiting to be frosted. The warm, inviting fragrance of mulled apple cider, ready and waiting to thaw winter chilled friends and family. And of course, the citrusy bright perfume of cranberries and oranges.
When thinking of holidays and cranberries, it’s easy to imagine cranberry sauce in its favored place at special dinners shared with family and friends. Maybe you have a favorite savory recipe that uses the tart little berries. One of the under appreciated ways to use cranberries is in baking. You can add them to just about any recipe in place of summer berries. Depending on your tastes, you made need to adjust the amount or type of sweetness used in your traditional recipe, because cranberries can be a bit tart.
This recipe, an adaptation of Mildred Orton’s own cranberry orange scones, uses all-purpose flour instead of the original whole wheat, which gives the scones a lighter texture. The use of fresh cranberries, orange juice, and orange zest give them a burst of tartness balanced by the natural sweetness of the orange juice. Fresh from the oven on a chilly winter day, these cranberry orange scones are sure to brighten and warm you through and through.
Cranberry Orange Scones
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, frozen
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 large eggs
- Whole milk, for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
- Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture.
- Mix with a fork to evenly distribute the butter. When the butter is generally absorbed, and the mixture resembles pea-size pieces, stir in the cranberries and orange zest.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the cream, orange juice, and eggs.
- Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a rough dough forms. Take care not to over mix.
- Flour the surface of a wooden cutting board.
- Turn out the dough and gently shape it into a ball, then press it lightly into a rectangle 2 to 2 1/2 inches high.
- Using a dough cutter or a knife, cut the dough crosswise into six smaller rectangles, and then cut these into twelve equal triangles.
- Place the triangles evenly spaced about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and flatten them slightly.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the scones lightly with milk and sprinkle the tops with sugar.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Tips and tricks for the best scones:
- Freezing, then grating the butter will make it easier to incorporate to your flour before it warms up too much
- Scones are much like biscuits–it’s so important not to overwork the dough or it becomes dense and unappetizing
- Once you add your wet ingredients, only mix until just combined. The dough may still look a bit lumpy—that’s okay!
- Do not knead your dough! Once you turn the dough onto your lightly floured surface, gently pat it together and shape as quickly as possible. You don’t want to develop the gluten in the dough or melt the butter.
- The less you handle the dough the better. Trust us.
- BONUS TIP: For a little extra citrus sweetness, make a quick orange glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons orange juice. As soon as the scones come out of the oven, drizzle the glaze over the top of the warm pastries.