Save a Scone for Later (lemon & cranberry scones)
We have this little tradition now when we have big cooking extravaganzas – we make scone dough, but we don’t bake it. Instead, we each keep half of the dough and freeze it. That way, on some boring weekday where we’re overwhelmed with school work and all the other things we have going on, we can pull a scone out of the freezer, put it in the oven, and have a delicious dish without much effort.
It’s a great tradition, and every time I (Amanda) have one of these suckers, I’m elated. There’s something so lovely about eating a fresh scone that reminds me of a cooking party already past (with the dishes long since washed and put away!). It’s like an edible scrapbook. And the best part is the surprise of it – all the effort’s already been put in, but we don’t yet know whether we like the recipe until days later!
We snagged this recipe – as we snag so many recipes – from Smitten Kitchen (the blog that brought us together). It is my favorite scone of all time. And I say this as a scone aficionado, a lover of all baked goods, and most importantly a person with absurdly high, perfectionist standards befitting one with significant amounts of German genes and Catholic schooling.
So here’s the recipe. We added a little bit of some straight up lemon juice to the lemon zest for two reasons. First, I almost always do that when recipes call for lemon zest, perhaps because I don’t regularly eat lemon rinds the way I drink lemon juice, and I’m weirdly unconvinced that a little lemon zest will add sufficient lemony-ness to baked goods. Second, I don’t have a zester, so we were stuck using my cheese grater, and it doesn’t produce as much zest. This is why I’ve put a microplane on my Christmas wish list – of course now I’ll wind up with 5 of them.
Lemon & Cranberry Scones
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 1/2 TBSP freshly grated lemon zest (Deb suggests Meyer lemons, but good luck with that if you live in the grocery desert that is our town)
- 1 tsp lemon juice (if you’re us)
- 1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons more if using fresh cranberries
- 1 TBSP baking powder (at her mother’s behest, Amanda has begun to insist on aluminum-free baking powder)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 TBSP cold butter, cut into roughly half-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups cranberries, preferably fresh
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup heavy cream
If you’re making these right away as opposed to freezing them for later like us, preheat the oven to 400°F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
First, zest your lemons. Then chop your cranberries into large-ish chunks (don’t dice them). We lovingly sliced each cranberry in half by hand – but probably only because one of us was trying to make herself look busy while the other did dishes (ahem, that would be Em). Feel free to stick the cranberries in a food processor and pulse a couple times if you’re not using mundane tasks as part of a grander scheme.
Put the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal (like when you make pie dough, if you are such a person). Transfer this mixture to a large-ish bowl.
Mix the cranberries (and 3 extra TBSP of sugar if you’re using fresh cranberries), and put all this into the large bowl with the flour, butter, etc.
In yet another bowl, because you must dirty everything in your kitchen if you want these delicious scones, lightly beat the egg and yolk and then stir in the cream. If you happen to be making these scones late at night after a long day of work and studying, you might mess up the egg part, since you have to have one whole egg and one yolk. You might accidentally put one egg white and one whole egg into the bowl, and be glad that it’s a separate bowl. What do you do? You remember that the second rule of your Smitten Kitchen cooking club is: waste nothing. So you put the messed up egg yolk + two whites in a baggie and have it later, as an omelette.
Once you’ve got the right amoung of eggs and have stirred in the cream, add that to the flour, butter, cranberry mixture, and stir it until combined, but don’t overstir. Or the cooking gnomes will come for you in the night and punish you, because overstirring is a mortal sin, second only to over-kneading bread.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, such as a big ol’ wooden cutting board. Flatten the dough down with your hand and pat it until it’s flat, round, and about 1-inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (about 2-inch in diameter), cut up all that dough. If you’re saving the scones for later, put each scone in tupperware, separating each scone with wax paper or some such thing.
Once you’re ready to bake the scones, arrange them on a parchment lined sheet, leaving about one inch of space in between each scone. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or possibly a little bit longer if you’re baking frozen dough. Once they’re pale and golden, pull those suckers out of the oven and serve them warm and delicious. I found that the scones were done at almost exactly 15 minutes, even though I’d frozen the dough. Maybe my oven is hotter than Deb’s, but usually my oven doesn’t run hot.
On the advice of Deb (queen of Smitten Kitchen, inspiration to us all), we did not make square scones. Instead we used this adorable little flower cookie cutter that my brother gave me – though admittedly after baking, the flower shape sort of . . . wilted, and they looked like normal round scones (see above). Side note about these cookie cutters – my 13 year old brother is amazing at getting me cooking things for birthdays and Christmas. It may be that my mother feeds him ideas, or it may just e that he is thoughtful beyond his teenage years. I don’t much care, because as thoughtfulness/adorableness goes, nothing will top the bracelet he made me out of nuts and bolts and springs and bungee cords when he was 8. And as far as cooking stuff goes, as long as I have it, I’m happy no matter who picked it out. But these cookie cutters are fantastic because they come in a set of four or five different shapes and sizes, and they nest in each other for easy storage, so they don’t get all jumbled up and tangled like all of my other cookie cutters. Plus, they actually CUT stuff, unlike most plastic cookie cutters, and they’re “tall” (“deep”?) enough that they can cut thick scone dough without making a mess. Beautiful + functional = worthy of my love. I just wish I knew who made them, although I’m betting it’s either Kitchenaid or Rubbermaid. One of those -aid’s.
Whatever shape scone you make, and however you cut them, enjoy!