Cranberry Orange Scones

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This recipe has been one of my baking favorites for over 10 years, from a time even before Mike and I were married.  It never fails to disappoint, which I guess is why I keep making it.  They are the perfect texture, the perfect sweetness, and can be made entirely ahead of time, cut into triangles, and frozen just before baking.  I think of the orange and cranberry combination as a springtime taste, but they are also pretty good at Christmas!

3 cups flour

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp orange peel

3/4 cup (160 grams) butter (I always used salted)

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix the dry ingredients and the orange peel together, then rub in butter to make coarse crumbly crumbs.  The last time I did this I let Jake do it, and he did an awesome job!

Mix in dry cranberries.

Slowly add buttermilk and toss with a rubber spatula until moist clumps form.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly to push together and bind the dough.  Do not overknead, scones are one of those fussy things that really get messed up if they aren’t kneaded right.  Too much kneading and you get those uniform, bready things that give scones a bad name.  Traditional scones (or at least the kind I like) get their crumbly rise as the steam escapes from the clumps of butter, and need to look knobbly to turn out the way they’re supposed to.

Separate the dough into two equal halves, and pat each one into a circle, about an inch and half to two inches thick.  Cut each round into 8 wedges.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  At this point you can either bake them, or put them in the freezer to harden before stowing them in freezer bags.  You can also squash them down a little if they came out too thick.  I do that sometimes.

If baking, transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of coarse or raw sugar.  This isn’t necessary but makes them look pretty if you don’t have time to ice them later.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden at the edges.  If you’re baking them from frozen, it may take a few more minutes.

They taste good even without icing, but if you want to add a little extra presentation, mix together some powdered sugar and a little freshly squeezed juice from the orange you peeled earlier, and/or milk.  Make it runny so that you can drip it over the top and have it dribble down the sides.

This recipe is also versatile!  I made it once with lemon peel and blueberries and they came out just as perfect.

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