Cranberry Orange Scones

Whenever I offer to make scones, I get one of two reactions:

  1. Ooh, scones!
  2. I don't like scones.

For a long time, I was baffled by the second reaction: What's not to like about scones? The best ones are soft, buttery, and just a little sweet. It wasn't until I had a scone at Starbucks that I understood what people were coming from. Scones you buy at coffee shops and stores are terrible—hard bricks that bear little, if any, relationship to the scones you make at home.

If you think you don't like scones, I recommend you try these out. Unlike the ones at [insert coffee shop], these are light on the inside—like biscuits—and a little crunchy on the outside, like a cookie. You can make them using any flavors you'd like; these are orange and cranberry, but you could substitute the orange for lemon zest and the cranberry for basil, or remove both and add a little ground ginger and a lot more vanilla. If you want a sweeter scone, you can use milk and powdered sugar to make a glaze, to which you can add even more flavors.

Depending on how you the cut the dough, this will make as few as eight and as many as two dozen scones. When I'm making a few large scones, I'll shape the dough into a circle and cut it like a pizza. If I'm making a bunch of smaller ones, I'll shape the dough into a rectangle and cut wedges.

I also recommend refridgerating the dough before you begin to shape it. You don't need to, but it will make it more difficult to cut well-defined wedges. If, like me, you care about how they look, put the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes before you turn it out on your surface. I didn't do that this morning—I was in a hurry—and the scones came out a little lopsided, if still delicious.

Cranberry Orange Scones

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on tops of scones
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries, defrosted
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 scant cup whole milk, plus more for brushing on tops of scones
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the large bowl of a food processor (fitted with the chopping blade), place the dry ingredients and orange zest, and pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse 10 or so times to combine (you should retain some small pieces of butter). Transfer flour mixture to a large mixing bowl. Fold cranberries into mixture.

In a large measuring cup, place milk, egg, orange juice and vanilla. Mix well, then pour into flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture while gradually turning the bowl. When dough begins to come together, gently kneed dough into a ball shape.

Transfer dough ball to floured board, and gently pat it into a 6- or 7-inch circle. Use a pastry scraper or large chef’s knife to cut it into 8 triangles.

Place the scones on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chilled scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning pan halfway through. Scones are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.