Buttery and flavorful, these scones are sweet with a nice tart bite from the cranberries and orange zest. They can be ready to eat in an hour and have a fantastic texture. Being a huge fan of scones, I can tell you that these are fast becoming my favorites in the sweet category.
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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.
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 the texture in the image below?
That's what a great sweet 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.
- Orange. Both the zest and the juice are used. This citrus pairs wonderfully with cranberries.
- Brown sugar: light or dark, both work.
- Unsalted butter.
- All-purpose flour.
- Baking powder: this is a crucial ingredient to help the scones rise, so make sure it isn't expired.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Cinnamon: any ground cinnamon you normally use works fine. I like Frontier Vietnamese cinnamon and Simply Organic Ceylon cinnamon.
- Sour cream: the regular type, full-fat sour cream cheese is used for richness and creaminess.
- Whole milk.
See the recipe card at the end of this post for quantities.
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- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you need to adjust.
- Very cold ingredients. I’m not kidding when I say frozen butter, at least very cold. And don’t take the cream half an hour before mixing the scones. Butter, cream, and milk belong in the fridge until you need to scatter and pour them.
- Don't work the dough much. It should come together but still have floury patches. You don’t need to work it until it’s smooth, like pie dough. It is an uneven dough with dry spots, and that’s good for flakiness later.
- A rather high oven. They need that extra heat (and baking powder) to rise however they can despite all that butter and cream. And if by any chance you forgot to turn the oven on before 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.
- Serving: at room temperature with a simple glaze never fails.
How to make scones
The mixing of dry ingredients with butter can be made in 2 ways:
- By hand - a bowl where you integrate the cold butter with your hands or with a pastry cutter. This can take a few minutes as the butter needs to be the size of peas and small beans because it will be irregular.
Use a large bowl to mix the dry ingredients comfortably.
- Food processor - the butter and dry ingredients are integrated by pulsing a few times. This is way faster and less messy (no hands involved), and the only thing to watch out for is not getting carried away and processing the butter too much.
Mix wet ingredients in another bowl before adding them to the butter mixture. Mix lightly with a fork until you have a shaggy mass.
Add the dried cranberries. Mix a few times with a fork and check the dough for moistness.
Adding the butter. It must be very cold and in small pieces to ensure a great result. Butter pieces should be irregular and the mixture crumbly before adding the liquid.
Forming and cutting scones
Add more liquid if you think it's necessary. Remember some floury patches are fine.
Dump onto a floured surface. Pat into a circle, about 2 inches high, and cut into triangles. It doesn’t matter if there are dry spots here and there. This is not a smooth dough.
Vintage Kitchen tip: scone ingredients must be very cold to ensure flakiness and that oven spring that makes them tender despite the butter and add-ins. Don't overwork the dough, so the butter remains cool and doesn't start to melt into the flour.
Cold dough: the scone triangles must be cold when placed in the preheated oven. So pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes or the fridge for 20 minutes before baking.
Preheated oven: it's essential to help the scones rise and bake as they should.
I use a powdered sugar glaze. It's one of my overall favorites, and I use it a lot!
And it's so ridiculously easy to make!
This glaze consists of mixing powdered sugar with a liquid until you have the consistency you desire. Thinner or thicker.
- Orange juice: it adds more orange flavor.
- Cranberry juice: it also complements the overall flavor. The color will be pink and eye-catching!
- Alternatives liquids: use milk, cream, orange liquor, or water.
Finish them with some orange zest. It adds a lot of citrus flavor.
Grate an orange on top of the freshly glazed scones and let it fall where it may.
Ensure 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, and 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 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 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
- Fiber: 1.4 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Cholesterol: 63 mg
Keywords: cranberry orange scones