Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cranberry Orange Scones

Good scones are a very lovely thing indeed. I make them from time to time because I think they are so much nicer than any that you can buy. The commercial scones are always enormous and tough - I'm sure that on a scale running between cake and bread, they come in at something like cement. So homemade it has to be. (And since my favourite scone recipe takes you from start to scone in about half an hour, why not?) I like to serve them as a Devonshire tea with lavished cream and jam - to me, this is one of those things that makes all feel right with the world.
No surprise then that this month's Barefoot Bonus Challenge was a welcome one - cranberry orange scones, from "The Barefoot Contessa at Home" by Ina Garten. I was keen to try these and see how they stacked up against the plain ones. I did play with the recipe below a little. Firstly I halved it. I have discovered that a lot of Ina Garten's recipes make what I would regard as a commercial quantity - so half a batch of these scones was easily enough for a generous morning tea, with leftovers as well. I also left off the icing glaze, as I didn't think I needed to ramp up the sugar any more.
I also played around with the method a little. The dough for scones needs to be treated as lightly (and little as possible) to make them as light and flaky as possible, so I rubbed the butter in by hand. If you have never done this and are thinking that this sounds a very Martha thing to do, don't be too impressed - it is actually very easy. Just cut your butter into little cubes, put it into a big mixing bowl with the flour and dry ingredients and literally rub the butter between your fingers into the flour until the flour looks like bread crumbs. Then gently stir in your lightly beaten eggs and cream. Gather the dough into a ball, knead softly a couple of times then roll out gently to about 2cm thick on a very well floured board. Cut out your scones, re-roll the scraps and cut out some more until the dough is all used up.
The resulting scones were lovely and light. The flavour was great - good enough to eat without the cream and jam in fact! I have no doubt they would appeal to anyone who likes citrus-y baked goods. The traditionalists in my household are demanding a return to plain scones next time, but thanks to Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef for the choice. I loved the change.

Cranberry Orange Scones
from The Barefoot Contessa At Home" by Ina Garten
4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest, or more if you like a stronger orange flavour
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pouring cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat the oven to 200C. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.
Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.


Em said...

I'm so glad you liked them!

Thanks for baking with me :)

Debinhawaii said...

Your scones do look very light and fluffy, just perfect. Thanks for the great scone making tips too.