Friday, January 01, 2010
If 2008 was the year of the muffin and 2009 was the year of the scone, why am I already baking a batch of scones in 2010? Shouldn't I be moving on now? To cookies, perhaps, or cupcakes or brownies or croissants. There are too many bakeable lovelies, really, for me to remain so enamored with scones. Except that they're easy to pull off. Give me twenty minutes and a pint of cream, I'll be sliding a batch into the oven only to stare lovingly at them through the glass until they reach an appropriate shade of toastiness. Then, I'll eat one straight up, searingly hot and soft, which gives me the strength to wait until the remainder of the batch cools. Add a fat cloud of gently sloped frosting and then the rest of them may not last the day. Honestly, I'm not sure I can move on from the scones. Especially when I just keep getting better at making them. They may be my signature baked good, so take note: you'll be seeing plenty of scones again this year.
Makes 18 medium-size scones
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
scant 1/2 tsp salt
zest of an orange
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup dried cranberries (sweetened or plain, your choice)
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 T butter, softened or melted
3 cups powdered sugar
1 T maple syrup
juice of an orange
Turn the oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
Use a food processor to whirl the flour, salt, baking powder, orange zest and sugar together to mix. Add the butter, cutting it into tablespoons and pulsing until the mixture is crumbly like thick, wet sand. (You can cut the butter in by hand too.) Add the cranberries and pulse until spread throughout — this chops a few of them up which spreads them throughout the batter. Place the mixture into a large bowl and form a hole in the center. Pour the cream and egg into the hole and use a fork to stir them together, gently pulling the sandy flour into the center until everything is barely mixed. The dough should hold together when pinched.*
Shape the dough into three balls about the size of your two hands cupped together. Do this as gently and quickly as possible. Against a floured countertop, press the balls into flat rounds, one at a time, until one inch thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut each round into six wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheet, at least an inch apart, and continue with the next ball. When all the scones are shaped, bake for 20 minutes then check for doneness. They may need another 5 minutes. They should be puffed to double their size and brown at the edges.
While the scones cool, whisk the frosting ingredients together, adding only enough orange juice to make the frosting fluffy and spreadable, not too loose to hold its shape. Frost when the scones are completely cooled and let set to dry or eat immediately. If you'd rather not frost your scones, simply brush the cut wedges with more cream and sprinkle with sugar before baking.
* Note: If you live in a dry climate, you may need to add more cream to get the dough to hold together. Don't be afraid to do so. Add one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together, then proceed.