Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cranberry Orange Scones

I think a good scone is one of the most perfect baked goods.  In my opinion, a good scone is light and flaky, with a touch of sweetness, and most importantly, it can stand on its own.  It does not need jam or heaven forbid, more butter to make complete.  It is perfect all by itself, along side a cup of coffee or tea.

I think Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, is the queen of scones.  She is also the queen of cream and butter.  I have experimented with her scone recipes for a while now, and I've decided that low fat buttermilk is an acceptable substitute for heavy cream in her scone recipes.  I have tried to reduce the amount of butter she uses, but quite frankly, if you reduce the amount of butter too much it changes the texture and the integrity of the scones.  If you are not willing to use some butter in a recipe, don't bother making scones.

The key to making good scones is making sure butter your butter is ice cold and work quickly.  As a matter of fact, your buttermilk or cream should be very cold as well. If you handle the dough too much, the heat from your hands will melt the butter and will result in dense scones.  You want to see small bits of butter in your dough. This dough freezes well too.  You can mix up a batch, cut them out and freeze them before you bake them.  I put the cut-out scones on a pan lined with a silpat, place the pan in the freezer, and freeze for about an hour.  After they are frozen, I remove them from the pan and pop them into a ziplock freezer bag and keep them for a rainy day. When you want to bake them, just pop them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.  They do not need to be defrosted and take just 5 minutes longer to bake.
This recipe makes a lot of scones.  I made a batch for our October staff meeting along with Pumkin Ginger Nut Muffins that can be found on Simply Recipes.
I think I ended up with 20 scones.  Obviously, you can change the yield by using a different sized cutter.  If you don't want 20 scones, cut the recipe in half. I usually cut the recipe in half, and still freeze half.  It's a good idea to only bake as many as you will consume in a day or two. 

Cranberry Orange Scones

Adapted From Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa 2006, slightly adapted


  • 3 3/4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 8 ounces very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold low fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoons orange juice for egg wash
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar for topping


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

In the bowl of mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3 3/4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl.

With mixer on slow speed, slowly pour the egg-buttermilk mixture into the flour- butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy.

In a small bowl, combine the dried cranberries and the 1/4 cup of flour.
Add cranberries to the dough, and mix on low speed until just blended. 

Dump the dough onto a floured board and knead it into a ball.

Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough into a 3/4-inch thick slab. Be sure to turn the dough as you roll so it doesn't stick.

Flour a 3-inch round cutter and cut circles of dough.

Place scones on a baking pan lined with a silpat or parchment paper.

Collect the scraps, pat together, roll and cut out more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked.  Cool slightly before serving.


    1. Oh my, these look lovely. I love that you gave instructions for freezing the dough. That is always super useful information.

      I have started a new food blogging group that celebrates the printed cookbook. I'd love it if you joined us. It should be lots of fun.

      Thank you for the lovely recipe.

    2. Thank you Allison. I'll be looking at your new food blogging group this weekend. I may be new to blogging, but I've been collecting cookbooks and cooking for long time. Sounds like fun!