Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cranberry Scones: Thankful For Leftovers

My husband really loves scones.  If left to his own devices in a Peet's or Starbuck's, he comes out with an enormous coffee and an equally enormous scone -- usually one with some sort of sugary glaze on top.  Too sweet for me. I like the scones I fell in love with during my college semester in the U.K.  A biscuity scone with just a touch of sweetness and absolutely no PopTarts-style frosting on top.  Those are the scones that make me want to sit down, immediately, with a cup of tea and the crossword puzzle.

So when I came across Molly Wizenberg's scone recipe this summer, I was determined to make the scones that I craved.  Of course, I am a mom of two little children, so I don't actually get to sit down for a "cuppa" (as my Scottish grandma says) and a puzzle.  Which explains why it is late November and I am just now getting around to trying that scone recipe that I've had my eye on since mid-summer.  C'est la vie.
There is a silver lining to my lack of free time, however.  Had I tried this recipe any earlier, I would not have had an overabundance of leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce on hand.  And so I would not have made this particular, amazing version of these scones. And, man, these babies were worth the wait!  They are nicely crumbly and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. 

If you don't have cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving, don't fret.  Just take the basic scone recipe and add fillings of your choice.  See the link to Molly's recipe, linked above, for lots of ideas. Or just think about the best scones you've had in your life . . . were they lemon? berry? almond? maple? raisin? ginger?  I've got some ground hazelnuts leftover from a pumpkin pie, so I might experiment with those, next!  One note:  Because my cranberry sauce is very sweet and very cinnamon-y, I did not otherwise flavor the dough.  So if you are not using cranberry sauce, you will likely need to add about 3 TBSP of sugar (based on Molly's recipe) and a bit of the spice of your choice.  (If you don't have cranberry sauce, I bet you could just use some frozen cranberries and add 1/4 c of sugar, cinnamon, and maybe a bit of orange zest.)

I ended up making three batches of these today and then followed the suggestion in Molly's book to freeze them for holiday gifts.  In a world of Christmas chocolates and cookies, I think my daughter's teachers will appreciate a box of scones.

Source:  adapted from A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg
Makes:  8 scones
Time:  about 10 mins. of prep and 12 mins. of cooking time

  • 2 c flour 

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 4 TBSP cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 dice

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 c half-and-half, plus more for glazing

  • 1/2 c cranberry sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing, rubbing, pinching with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. 

  3. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 c half-and-half and the egg, beating well.  Add the cranberry sauce and stir well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just to combine.  The dough will look dry and shaggy, and there may be some unincorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl.  (See photo.)  Don't worry about that.  Use your hands to press the dough into a rough mass.

  4. Turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop.  Press, gather, and knead it until it just comes together.  (Molly's notes claim that you should not knead it more than 12 times.  No matter what, do not overwork it, or the scones won't be tender.  Due to the cranberry sauce, this particular version is so sticky that it's hard to even knead it a few times, but keep an eye out if you are trying a drier version.)  Again, don't worry about it if there is excess flour.  As soon as it holds together, pat it out into a circle that is 1-inch thick.  Cut with a knife into 8 wedges. 

  5. Line a baking tray parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Transfer the scones as best you can.  (Mine were so sticky that I had to lightly pat them back into shape on the baking tray.)  Pour a tiny bit of half-and-half into a little cup.  Use a pastry brush or your fingertips to gently brush/pat some half-and-half on the top of each scone. 

  6. Bake for 10-15 mins., or until pale golden.  Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, but then do let yourself have one right away, while it's still warm.  With a pat of butter. 

Note:  If you want to freeze them, wrap them in aluminum foil and put in a freezer bag or container.  Bring to room temp and then warm in a low oven (300 degrees), toaster oven, or in a wide-slotted toaster set to "warm."  (I recommend warming them even if you don't freeze them first!)
P.S.  I ate a warmed scone and drank a cuppa while writing this!


  1. and now I remember why I bought another bag of cranberries today at the store.

    I also saw a cranberry recipe on annie's eats that looked yummy. I think you'd like her place, Megan. Stop by sometime!

  2. Um, I am now officially addicted to Annie's Eats! Thanks, Chris!