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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cranberry Scones

Who knew that a bag of cranberries would keep you busy in the kitchen for so long?

With so many berries leftover, I was psyched that I'd also be able to make the cranberry scones recipe that had also made it to the top of my pile. I've never made scones before but because I was feeling more confident about baking after the cranberry upside-down cake success, I thought I'd give it a try. I even bought a fancy new pastry from Target this morning just for the occasion.

It's only within the last five years or so that I started eating scones. When they first came on the scene, they were incredibly dry and tasteless. But I gave them another shot and am glad I did: it seems that cooks out there figured out that scones needed an overhaul and tweaked their recipes to make them more palatable. Not just palatable, but yummy, really. But they are, by nature, a dry dough. Don't be discouraged by how stubborn the ingredients are to mold themselves into something that resembles a scone.

Cranberry Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

5 tbsp sugar, plus 1 tbsp for topping

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup half-and-half, plus 1 tbsp

1/2 cup halved cranberries, drained on paper towels

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, 5 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives (note: two knife method is difficult) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 2/3 of the half-and-half until just moistened. Gently fold in cranberries.

2. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently, around 10 times. Pat into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 8 wedges; place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon of half-and-half; sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

The Verdict: These ain't the dry and tasteless scones of old. Make way for a new breakfast staple!
The outside is a bit crispy and the inside is slightly moist, making a great combination. The tartness of the cranberries are offset by the small amount of sugar on the top of the scones. I was ready to smear it in butter but found that the amount of butter used for cooking makes it rich enough to go without.
I'm dying to try it as different fruits come into season. Substituting blueberries for the cranberries seems like it would be heavenly; I'm also imagining fresh raspberries would be delish.

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