Being a huge fan of scones, I can tell you that these ones are fast becoming my favorites in the sweet category. They can be ready to eat warm in an hour and have a fantastic flavor and texture.
Baking scones runs in the family, and, as I told you before, it's not easy living up to my very Irish great-grandmother's recipe.
So I decided to wing it and look for my own favorites, haha.
This cranberry studded recipe is a variation of the orange ones named above. Those are plain and these are festive. Both are fantastic!
Do you see that perfect texture in the image above?
That's what a great scone looks like, in my opinion. Tender with a crunchy crust and a moist crumb.
Scones, in general, use everyday staples such as flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, and milk.
These incorporate a few others:
- Cranberries. We use dried ones. Make sure they are plump and moist.
- Cinnamon. Use a good quality ground spice. It adds depth to this recipe.
- Orange. Both the zest and the juice are used. This citrus pairs wonderfully with cranberries.
My 3 tips for scones
- Very cold ingredients. I’m not kidding when I say frozen butter, or at least very cold. And don’t take the milk and sour cream half an hour before you start mixing the scones. They all belong in the fridge until you need to scatter and pour them.
- Don't work the dough much. It should come together but might still feel like it has floury patches. You don’t need to work it until it’s smooth, like a pie dough for instance. It is an uneven dough with noticeable butter pieces, and that’s good for flakiness later.
- A rather high oven. They need that extra heat (and baking powder) to rise however they can in spite of all that butter and cream. And if by any chance you forgot to turn the oven on before you start with the mixing, please don’t leave the baking sheet with the cut scones waiting on the counter. Put them in the fridge or freezer for the ten or fifteen minutes it takes for the oven to reach its temperature.
Mixing the dough
- Use a large bowl to mix the dry ingredients comfortably.
- Add the butter. It must be very cold and in small pieces to ensure a great result. This is important if you cut the butter into the flour by hand (as opposed to using a pastry cutter) because it will take several minutes and you don’t want the butter to start warming up and melting. Butter should be irregular and mixture crumbly before adding the liquid.
- Mix wet ingredients in another bowl before adding to the butter mixture (image 1). Mix lightly with a fork until you have a shaggy mass.
- Add dried cranberries (image 2). Mix a few times and add more liquid if you think it's necessary. Remember some floury patches are fine.
In the food processor:
The alternative to making the dough completely by hand is using the food processor (my favorite small appliance!) for the first part of the recipe.
- Put the flour and other dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse to mix.
- Scatter cold butter. Pulse a few times, just until the butter is the size of peas. It will be irregular. Don’t overwork it.
- Add the wet ingredients (lightly mix them first in a bowl) and pulse a few times using on/off and barely start bringing it together. Don’t process until you have a ball! You should have a shaggy mass.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add cranberries. Mix a few times until distributed, but remember not to overwork it.
Forming and cutting scones
- Gather the dough into an irregular ball. This must be done with as few strokes as possible but the dough must be cohesive (image 3).
- Dump onto a floured surface. Pat into a circle, about 2 inches high, and cut into triangles (image 4). It doesn’t matter if there are dry spots here and there. This is not a smooth dough.
I use a simple powdered sugar glaze. It's one of my overall favorites and I use it a lot! Whether I'm making an apple loaf cake, or some pistachio butter cookies, this glaze adds a wonderful layer of sweetness.
And it's so ridiculously easy to make!
Simple powdered sugar glaze:
This glaze consists of mixing powdered sugar with a liquid until you have the consistency you desire. Thinner or thicker.
I use orange juice because well, we're making cranberry orange scones.
- Alternatives liquids: use milk, cream, orange liquor or even water.
Finish them with some orange zest. It adds a lot of citrus flavor.
Simply grate an orange on top of the freshly glazed scones and let it fall where it may. Make sure the glaze is still wet so the orange zest sticks to it before it sets.
One of the most wonderful things about scones is that they can be frozen raw, already formed. So you can make a big batch, cut them, put them on trays and freeze them.
Once frozen, put them in a plastic bag or container so the tray doesn’t occupy freezer space.
That way, you can bake them to order! Directly from the freezer into a hot oven.
Warm, freshly baked scones whenever you feel like it.
Related recipes you might like:
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- 2 ¼ cups (315g) pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (65g) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of ground cinnamon
- Zest of ½ an orange
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup (180g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
- ½ cup whole milk, very cold (or use ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup sour cream)
- Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190ºC.
- Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the food processor: in the bowl put flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Process a few seconds just to mix.
- Scatter butter over this mixture and add orange zest. Pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas or chickpeas.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
- By hand: in a large bowl lightly mix the dry ingredients.
- Add the butter pieces and orange zest, and cut or incorporate it with your hands or a pastry cutter. The butter should be the size of peas or chickpeas.
- For both: add milk (and sour cream if using both) and quickly mix with a fork, until most of it is moistened.
- Add the cranberries and mix a few times. The dough should come together if pressed but appear lumpy.
- Dump this shaggy mass onto the kitchen counter or smooth surface and quickly give it a few turns to avoid very dry spots. Some dry parts might remain and that is OK. The more you touch it and mix it, the tougher the baked scones will be.
- Pat the mixture into a round, about 2-inches high.
- With a kitchen knife or dough scraper, cut scones into 6 triangles and arrange them on the baking sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are golden and risen.
- Eat warm.
- You can freeze the unbaked triangles and bake directly from the freezer.
My 3 tips for making the best scones:
Very cold ingredients. I’m not kidding when I say frozen butter, or at least very cold. And don’t take the milk and sour cream half an hour before you start mixing the scones. They all belong in the fridge until you need to scatter and pour them.
Don't work the dough much. It should come together but might still feel like it has floury patches. You don’t need to work it until it’s smooth, like a pie dough for instance. It is an uneven dough with noticeable butter pieces, and that’s good for flakiness later.
A rather high oven. They need that extra heat (and baking powder) to rise however they can in spite of all that butter and cream. And if by any chance you forgot to turn the oven on before you start with the mixing, please don’t leave the baking sheet with the cut scones waiting on the counter. Put them in the fridge or freezer the ten or fifteen minutes it takes for the oven to reach its temperature.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 25
- Category: Scones & Biscuits
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: ⅙
- Calories: 449
- Sugar: 15.3 g
- Sodium: 44.2 mg
- Fat: 24.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 52.9 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Cholesterol: 63 mg
Keywords: cranberry scones, cranberry orange scones