Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Buttermilk Cranberry Scones, for St. Patrick's Day

While visiting Ireland this past summer with my sister, I ate lots and lots and lots of scones. Scones and soup. Despite the fact that we visited in August, it rained and was chilly most days. No matter - more opportunities to duck into the nearest Irish pub for tea and scones. Yum.

Actually, as I think about it, I really like bread products in general - a good crusty olive loaf, banana bread, whole wheat english muffins, biscuits, bagels, and of course, scones! There must be something that causes me to crave carbs, not sure. I just love bread.

Well, what better to make for St. Patrick's Day, than scones?! (nevermind that it also feeds my carb cravings, I'm killing two birds with one stone here)

When searching for a great scone recipe, there were thousands. I liked this one, and this one looked interesting, or how about this? (sorry, you'll have to click on the link to see what I drooled over).

In the end, I settled on a basic Buttermilk Cranberry Scone, since in truth, I've never made scones before. Best to start off easy. This recipe also seemed to fit my mood at the time of baking.

If you're a bit weary of making scones, Pinch My Salt has a great 'how to make biscuits' tutorial that you can read through first. I also followed recommendations to read the complete scone recipe before starting, and to get all the ingredients prepared ahead of time. While Pinch My Salt touched on this too, another recipe explicitly stated: a hot oven is imperative for scones. So start pre-heating your oven asap.

You may be wondering by this point, how did they turn out? Oh, my, good, golly! Delicious. The perfect blend of cakey biscuit with a hint of sweet. And the cranberries, cut in small pieces, were little bursts of flavor. This is definitely a keeper recipe.

I also liked that the recipe is a manageable size. It makes 8 scones, although it would be easy enough to double for more. I didn't have a dough mixer, so I did everything by hand, and it worked great.

For any reason whatsoever, make these!

(I don't know if I should admit this, but after making this recipe the week before, I couldn't get enough and just made another batch. Loooove them)

Note: I made the lemon glaze and drizzled it on half the scones. I thought it made the scones too sweet and took away from their subtly sweet, cranberry flavor. But, that's just a personal preference.

Buttermilk Cranberry Scone
from Pinch My Salt

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used the buttermilk substitute)
1 large egg
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped fine
Finely grated zest from one small lemon- about 2 teaspoons (I did not do this, totally OK)
Heavy cream (optional, for brushing tops of scones)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Add butter chunks and toss lightly with flour; place bowl in fridge.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, and lemon zest; place bowl in fridge.

Get organized: measure out and chop the cranberries; set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside. Lightly dust a counter top with flour. Pour a little bit of heavy cream in a bowl and have a pastry brush handy.

Remove bowls of flour and buttermilk from fridge. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and stir to combine.

Add buttermilk mixture all at once to flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together. Dump mixture out onto floured counter top and, with floured hands, gather into a ball and knead once or twice to combine everything. Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 slices, like a pie, or cut with biscuit or cookie cutters into whatever shape you prefer. Put scones on lined baking sheet and brush lightly with heavy cream (optional).

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack.

Optional Lemon Glaze (see note above): Combine about 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and whisk to combine. Adjust sugar/juice amounts to get the consistency you prefer. Drizzle glaze over cooled scones, and allow glaze to set.

More delicious, sweet scones:
- Irish Buttermilk Scones, from Albion Cooks
- Blueberry-Raspberry Honey-Butter Glazed Scones, from Baking and Books
- Strawberry Sunrise Scones, from Baking Bites
- Maple Oatmeal Scones, from Andrea's Recipes

Guten appetit!