Test Kitchen: Cranberry Orange Scones
As I mentioned in a previous post, since watching The Great British Baking Show, I have been wanting to bake a greater variety of bakes…and this has lead to a slight obsession with scones.
Scones are a variation of a quick bread. Scones and are typically baked without a pan to give them their shape, although sometimes instead of a “dough” they can be made with a “stiff batter”. (62) They are similar to biscuits being that they are both tender and flaky, but there are some very distinct differences. Scones are usually sweetened whereas biscuits have little or no sugar added. Scones typically are made with fruit, nuts and spices; while biscuits typically have no additions at all. Scones are usually the main attraction served with coffee or tea, while hot biscuits are served beside a meal with a little bit of butter or honey. (King Arthur Flour, 109)
You can read about the first time I made scones in my post Test Kitchen: Golden Raisin Scones.
I have been wanting to make another batch of scones, but decided to wait until I could share them and not be stuck in a house all by myself with a whole batch of scones calling my name. Last week it was my responsibility to bring snacks to my women’s bible study group, so I decided to make Cranberry-Orange Scones. I used the Basic Scones and Variations recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (113).
You can read my review of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion here.
First I combined the dry ingredients, including the dried cranberries.
Next, I whisked the wet ingredients together. The recipe calls for milk, but suggests using orange juice as a substitute, and that is what I chose to do for this batch of scones. I live at an extremely high elevation so, to prevent the scones from being too dry because of higher evaporation rates, I added an extra egg.
High-Altitude Adjustment: Add an extra egg to increase liquid amount.
Following that, I cut cold fat into the dry ingredient mixture. I used half butter and half shortening, making sure not to let the fat pieces to be cut smaller than a green pea. Prior to baking the scones I had put half of a stick of butter in the freezer and have started keeping my shortening in the fridge, as suggested by The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. I used my teaspoon measurer to make marble size balls of cold shortening and I used my grater to make large grates of frozen butter. (113)
At this point, I added the liquid ingredients to the fat-flour combination. I gently folded everything together, because too much mixing would make the scones heavy and tough. I folded the ingredients to the point that the mixture was mostly moistened, but some of the flour was still dry.
Next, I turned the dough onto a surface that had been lightly floured. I folded it together until it became cohesive. I then cut the mound of dough in half using a Baker’s Bench Knife, which looks like this.
I then placed each half of the dough on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Typically I use parchment paper, but of course I ran out in the middle of this bake, so I greased one pan and lined the other.
At this point, I patted each section of the dough until each half was a 7″ wide circle and around a half an inch thick. Using a pizza dough cutter, I sliced each circle into 8 wedges and then pulled them apart.
My bible study was on Wednesday morning and because I was preparing the scones a day ahead of time I wanted to be able to bake them right before the study so they would still be hot and fresh. To do this I covered them in plastic wrap and put the baking sheets straight in the freezer. If I had wanted to keep them frozen longer than one night I would have put them in a plastic container after one hour of freezing.
Wednesday morning I pulled the baking sheets out of the freezer and glazed each scone with a little bit of a beaten egg/water mixture. The last time I baked scones I probably went a little crazy with the glaze and realized that it might have impeded the scones from fully rising, so this time I kept the glaze to a minimum. After sprinkling the glazed scones with a cinnamon sugar combo I put them on the center rack of my oven that had been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I baked the scones for 9 minutes, according to the cookbooks suggestion of adding 2 minutes if the scones were first frozen, and then turned the oven off and left the scones in the oven for another 9 minutes.
I allowed the scones to cool on a wire rack. Truthfully if I hadn’t been running late to my bible study, I would have let them bake for one more minute and cool a little longer. Even so, I think they turned out great!
When I got to the bible study only one other lady showed up. She said they might be the best scones she had ever tasted! 100 percent satisfaction! I am really happy with the way the scones turned out and will be baking them again soon.