Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Fresh Cranberry Orange Scones

The tartness of fresh cranberries with the tart-sweetness of orange juice on a buttery background makes these really bright breakfast treats.
Well, that just sounds like a description that you'd find in a catalogue, doesn't it? Even better, it's true!
Drop scones are always fun to make because they're just so simple to miz and there is no shaping required. Put everything into a bowl, rub in butter and stir in a bit of liquid to bind it together. You can use any liquid, even water, though your results will probably be a bit more satisfying if you use milk, cream or a flavorful juice. Fresh orange juice certainly is flavorful, too, so it is a fantastic choice for scones. The acidity cuts the butteriness just enough to make these fairly addictive. I make them large, so they're more satisfying, and I am not tempted to eat more than one. Or two.
Fresh cranberries are in season and are just wonderful in these. Though they're called fresh cranberry scones, you can always use frozen cranberries instead. You may need to use a food processor instead of a knife to coarsely chop them, though, since you shouldn't defrost them before using. In all honesty, these will turn out very nearly as well with good quality purchased orange juice and the frozen cranberries. It's just a nice touch to use fresh if you can.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Scones
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
5-6 tbsp orange juice (fresh, if possible)
1 tsp orange zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse sand. A few large bits are ok, but try not to have any pieces larger than an average pea.
Stir in cranberries. Add 5 tablespoons of orange juice (and zest, if using) and stir. If the mixture does not form a ball, add remaining tablespoon of juice. Divide dough in four pieces and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, if desired.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until scones are a light golden color. A toothpick should come out clean, but color is a reliable indicator for these.
Makes 4.