Cranberry-Orange Scones

Cranberry-Orange Scones
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cranberry orange scones
Scones fresh from the oven!

We made up these little scone bites for the volunteers (ourselves included) at our Monday night walk. We wanted something that would tie in with the Thanksgiving holiday, but slightly different from the standard type treats: pumpkin/sweet potato pies, so we thought that we’d make up a scone with the flavors of cranberry relish. It seemed like a straightforward thing to do.

We based this mainly on our favorite scone recipe, Cheddar Scones, sort of from Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel, with modifications coming from the Chocolate Cherry Scones, also in the same book. Like the Chocolate Cherry Scones, this does have to be done over several days, so you’ll need to plan ahead. The basic schedule is one day for steeping, the next for mixing and shaping, then the following day for baking and eating. With that in mind, you have just enough time to get these ready for a Thanksgiving morning treat, so let’s get scratchin’.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Yield: 12 scones (or about 24 mini-scones)

Cranberry-Orange Scones


    For the cranberries
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) water
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
  • 90 g (3/4 cup) dried cranberries
  • 15 g (1 1/2 Tbs) candied orange peel, broken into small pieces
  • For the scones
  • 107 g (3/4 cup + 1 tsp) all-purpose flour
  • 196 g (1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbs) cake flour
  • 8.1 g (1 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp) baking powder
  • 1.6 g (3/8 tsp) baking soda
  • 27 g (2 Tbs + 3/4 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 3.6 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 132 g (9 Tbs + 1 tsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 71 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbs) heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • 69 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbs) crème fraîche or homemade sour cream
  • For the glaze
  • 100g (3/4 cup + 2 Tbs) Confectioners' sugar
  • 45 to 50 g (2 1/2 to 3 Tbs) Reserved syrup
  • 30 g (2 Tbs) heavy cream

Abbreviated Instructions

For the cranberries

Place cranberries and orange peel into a small heat-proof non-reactive bowl.

Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into liquid along with vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. Strain liquid over cranberries to remove vanilla pieces.

Place cranberries, orange peel, and liquid into the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Transfer back to bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain cranberries thoroughly, reserving 1/4 cup liquid for the glaze.

For the scones

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add kosher salt and mix for about 15 seconds.

Add butter pieces and pulse to start combining, then mix on low until butter is completely incorporated, about 3 minutes. If there are visible butter pieces remaining, break them up and mix in with your fingers.

With mixer on low, slowly add cream and crème fraîche. Mix until all ingredients are moistened and dough forms around the paddle, about 30 seconds.

Add cranberries and pulse until mixed.

Turn dough out onto a work surface, and, using the heel of your hand and a dough scraper, press the dough together and form a 7x9-inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut dough lengthwise to form two 9x3 1/2 inch strips, then cut each strip into 6 bars, each 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches in size. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

(Once frozen, the scones can be placed in a plastic bag and kept frozen for up to a month.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Arrange frozen scones on baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between them.

Bake 33 to 36 minutes, rotating front to back halfway through, or until scones are golden brown.

For the glaze

While the scones bake, whisk together powdered sugar and 45 g (2 1/2 Tbs) reserved syrup in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in cream, adding more syrup if needed to maintain a glaze-like consistency.

Brush glaze on scones immediately after removing from the oven.

Let scones cool on the baking sheet before serving.

Ingredient discussion:

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and specific measurements prevent you from making these scones. If you have a scale, it’ll be easy. If you use measuring cups, it’ll be a bit harder, but still doable, so go for it. If you don’t have candied orange peel, just omit. No crème fraîche? Well, until we learned how easy it is to make, we wouldn’t have had any, either. In that case, just replace with more heavy cream.

Procedure in detail:

For the cranberries:

Combine cranberries and peel. In a small heat-proof and non-reactive bowl, mix together cranberries and orange peel pieces.

simmering simple syrup
Simple syrup is simple: just sugar and water in equal parts. In this case, a bit of vanilla will add flavor.

Make simple syrup. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the sugar mixture. Add the vanilla bean, too. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat. If you can, remove the large pieces of vanilla beans (then you’ll just have to add the cranberries and orange peel); otherwise, strain them out, pouring the liquid over the cranberries and orange peel.

simmering dried cranberries
Add the cranberries and orange peel and bring back to a simmer. After that, it’s time to steep overnight.

Bring to a simmer. Place the cranberry mixture back into the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat.

steeping cranberries
We put our cranberries in a Pyrex measuring cup, then into the fridge, and we’re done for the day.

Cover and steep. Transfer the cranberries, orange peel, and syrup back to your bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

draining cranberries
Reserve some of the syrup for the glaze, then drain the cranberries thoroughly, about 2 hours.

Drain. The next day, strain off about 1/4 cup of syrup and reserve for making the glaze. Drain the cranberry mixture thoroughly, about an hour.

For the scones:
measuring flour
As we got used to using a scale, measuring became easier;  now we just scoop out the amount of each ingredient and done.

Sift dry ingredients. Okay, we know you don’t want to break out the sifter; it always seems like just one more thing to do. And we agree, but we break out the sifter for cake flour. It’s lumpy. Just place your sifter in the bowl of a stand mixer, measure the ingredients right into the sifter, and crank away.

Add salt and mix. Toss the teaspoon of kosher salt onto the flour mixture — kosher salt crystals are too large to fit through the sifter screen — onto the flour and attach the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low and mix for about 15 to 20 seconds to incorporate the salt.

mixing scones
Start by pulsing until the butter is partly cut in, then just mix until it’s completely cut in, 3 minutes.

Add butter and mix. Turn off the mixer, add the butter pieces, and pulse the mixer to get everything started without flinging flour all over the place. Once it’s started, let the mixer run on low, gradually cutting in the flour, until the mixture looks like a coarse cornmeal, about 3 minutes. If there are any lumps of butter left, break them apart with your fingers.

adding cream
Pour in the heavy cream mixture while the mixer is running. It’ll soon form a dough.
scone dough
The dough will clump around the paddle; it’ll be a bit tacky, but not sticky.

Add cream and mix. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the heavy cream and crème fraîche. As part of our prep work, we just mix these two together in a small measuring cup. Keep  mixing until the dough comes together and forms around the paddle, about a minute.

adding cranberries
The cranberries add more moisture, so the dough will get slightly stickier, but it won’t be bad.

Add cranberries and mix. Scrape the cranberries and orange peels onto the dough, then pulse the mixture a good 15 to 20 times, or enough times to mix them in fairly uniformly. Don’t mix so long as to break up the cranberries, though.

scone dough wrapped in plastic
Shape the dough into a block and refrigerate for several hours. This helps the flour hydrate and makes it easier to handle.

Shape dough. Turn the dough onto a work surface, and, using your hands and a dough scraper, form the dough into a block about 7×9 inches. The dough might be a bit sticky at this point, but don’t be tempted to add more flour.

Chill dough. Use your dough scraper to lift up the dough and place it on a piece of plastic. Wrap tightly, then place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The chilling will make it less sticky, and easier to work.

scone dough ready for the freezer
Cut the dough block into scones, then it’s into the freezer — these scones start baking frozen solid.

Cut into scones. If you’re making large scones, cut the dough block in half lengthwise, then cut each rectangle into 6 pieces, making 12 long rectangles. If you want bite-sized pieces, cut each of the rectangles in half, making 24 scones. Place everything on a baking sheet, again wrapping the scones in plastic.

Freeze. Set the scones in the freezer for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. The next day you can transfer them to a freezer bag for up to a month.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or baking parchment.

Bake.  Place the frozen scones on the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake for about 33 to 36 minutes for the large scones, slightly less for the bite-sized scones, or until golden brown.

For the glaze:
measuring sugar and syrup
This will make more than enough glaze for your scones. You may even want to consider making a half batch.
adding cream
We only had a touch of cream left, so we hoped it would be enough.

Mix. While the scones are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar and 45 g (2 1/2 Tbs) of the reserved syrup. While whisking, slowly add cream. If needed, add more syrup to keep a glaze-like consistency.

Glaze. As soon as the scones are removed from the oven, apply glaze with a pastry brush and let cool completely before serving.

Naturally, we had to test these little scones — well, not so little, actually — before bringing them down to the other volunteers on Monday. We just like to do a quality control check; it never hurts. In this case, we were pretty sure that these would be good; we’d tried all the components in the past. They were light and flaky, the glaze was just sweet enough, not so thin that it stuck to the fingers, and the tartness of the cranberries was a nice complement to the sweetness of the glaze. Worthy of five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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