Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday's Weeknight Recipe Review: Cranberry Orange Scones

Okay, I enjoyed the weekly recipe review idea so much that I've decided to feature it again. I like that it helps encourage me to try new recipes each week (and actually make them, instead of just dreaming about it, LOL!). So this week's feature is not a recipe I would try to make on a weeknight, but it is a great one to make over the weekend, and then enjoy any time of day during the week. And because I love seasonal cooking, this one just shrieks "fall" to me.

Recently, I've started watching Ina Garten's show, Barefoot Contessa. I was familiar with her as a Food Network personality, but had never tried any of her recipes. I started watching her show one afternoon, and quickly became hooked. She's awesome! And she's so very calming and relaxing to watch (and listen to) after a long day at work. She's got a very soothing voice and she makes such comforting food!

Since I rarely do anything halfway, I rushed out and ordered two of her books - Barefoot Contessa at Home, and Barefoot in Paris. I think I will really enjoy both of these cookbooks, because her recipes are very "un-fussy" and feature whole ingredients, without skimping on elegance and style. The result is recipes that are very accessible (sometimes with just five or six ingredients), but make it feel like you are preparing something very special.

The other day, I caught an episode of her show in which she made the recipe I am featuring today. I rarely make this kind of thing for myself, because it is too close to shortbread, which I could cheerfully eat until I make myself seriously ill. I adore shortbread. I also love biscuits and anything with a similar deliciously crumby, buttery, flaky texture. So scones are not usually on my list of things to make, unless I have someone to take them off my hands, and quickly!

However, I love to make this kind of thing for holiday breakfasts, and with the holidays not too far away, I wanted to try them in anticipation of making them for Thanksgiving dinner/breakfast. I love the combination of cranberry and orange, and I usually make a cranberry orange bread that I'll share with you in a few weeks. So these looked particularly inviting, and I decided to make 'em this weekend!

I am happy to report they are very easy and VERY good. Like, so good that I am going to have to take them to work (or I may try freezing them). Because otherwise I may gain 5 pounds just eating these things. They're that good!

I have a couple notes to offer with my own take on the recipe, which I'll add at the end. For now, let's make these beautiful, buttery scones!

You'll need these items:

We've got flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, dried cranberries, eggs, heavy cream, and butter. Oh, the butter... PW would be proud! Optional ingredients (for a glaze) are confectioners' sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Before you begin measuring dry ingredients, go ahead and throw the butter (3 sticks - shhhhhh!!!) in the freezer for a few minutes. That will help it maintain its shape while you're working with it. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp baking powder, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 tsp orange zest.

Next, cut the butter into small cubes. I use a cheese slicer for this, which takes only seconds (and the wire won't stick to the butter like a knife would). Toss it into the dry ingredients and mix on slowest speed until butter is the texture of small peas.

While that's mixing, beat 4 eggs, and then combine the eggs with 1 cup of cold heavy cream.

Next, toss 1 cup of dried cranberries with 1/4 cup flour, then add to the flour mixture. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring only until blended (may be a little lumpy). Turn it out onto a floured board, and using a floured rolling pin, gently roll out until it's a little less than an inch thick. The trick with scones (to keep them light and crumbly in texture) is not to overwork the dough, and to work quickly so the butter doesn't melt. You want tiny little pieces of butter to remain in the finished scones, so that when they bake they will steam gently.

Now, some recipes (including this one) call for you to cut round scones and then re-roll the scraps and cut those, etc. I have never liked making round portions in this manner, because you always end up with extra dough that doesn't get used, and (as with scones) some doughs are "fragile" and will change texture if they're handled repeatedly. So my preference is to make either square or triangular pieces, so that I only have to roll and cut once. But cut them in whatever shape suits your fancy, just remember to keep things chilled so the butter doesn't melt. I was more interested in the taste of these rather than perfect portions, so mine are a little messy, but here's what I ended up with. Don't forget to line your baking pan with parchment!

[Optional egg wash - beat one egg with a couple tablespoons water, and brush over tops of scones; dust with granulated sugar if you like.]

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. If you want to glaze them, combine 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 4 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice (adjust sugar and juice to your desired texture). Drizzle over top (or smother in butter, like me!) and enjoy!

Printable recipe here.

Love, Dahrlin'


Michelle said...

Did I miss your comments at the end? Were they that seamlessly interwoven?

btw, my scone recipe ironically enough has me melt the butter as step a. Somehow, it works :) Of course the dried cheries and chocolate chips don't hurt!

This looks great. I love orange and cranberry, too!

Oh and I keep meaning to send you an email except that I can't :) Yours doesn't like what it is... if you want the cook book, email me at ahnya .at' excite d com.

Fingers crossed and prayers for you and your dog!

Live.Love.Eat said...

Hey there. How did I miss this post. I check you everyday. Hmmmm. Anyhoo, I love Ina too but for some reason I have not made anything of hers. She is very relaxing and I love her house on the beach. These look awesome girl!!!!!

Angie's Spot said...

Oh my, these look divine. I heart scones. My favorite are blueberry. Of course, I love blueberry ANYTHING.

I'm still working on updates for ya. It's been a wild and woolly week so far. Way busier than I anticipated. Tis the season!


Robin's Reports said...

Oh Stop it!! You're making my mouth water for some Blueberry scones I used to make (thanks to Martha Stewart). Oh I haven't had them in years but I can smell it after seeing your website.

Scary Mommy said...

Ohhhhhh... those look GOOD!!!!
Thanks for stopping by and entering my contest. Good luck & hope to see you again! :)

Angela said...

Michelle - I will share the orange and cranberry bread in a few weeks - bet you will love it!

Stephanie - try some of Ina's recipes - she's great!

Angie - hope you love the blueberry scone recipe Robin shared!

Robin - those are definitely next on my list to try! I may try incorporating Michelle's melted butter trick, just to see what happens.

Scary - thanks for hosting the giveaway!!

jmk said...

That's a lot of butter!

The finished product looks yummy!

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

Yumm Yumm Yummy! I love Cranberries and I always get the Cranberry Orange Muffins at Starbucks. I cannot wait to try these.

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