04 May 2007

Fluffy Cranberry Almond Scones

I just baked the lightest, fluffiest scones of my life. I've been searching for the perfect scone recipe for a long time, and I think I've finally gotten it by crossing recipes from two of my favorite cookbooks. At last!

"Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", by Deborah Madison, is an absolute must for any vegetarian kitchen. Williams-Sonoma's "Essentials of Baking" is likewise a key reference for anyone who wants to hone their baking skills. It offers challenge for the intermediate/advanced baker as well as easy to follow instructions with pictures that are actually helpful. (Totally unsolicited reviews, y'all. They're just that good.)

A few notes on the recipe:

  • If you're using sweeter ingredients, you'll want to reduce the amount of sugar in your dough, using a minimum of one tablespoon.
  • I actually used about 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder. You could vary this more, down to 2 teaspoons, depending on how dense you like your scones. This recipe is certainly lighter than traditional scones.
  • One of the original recipes was a currant cream scone recipe, and the other was a ginger cream scone recipe (with crystallized ginger). There are a million other add-ins you could try. Dream up various combinations of your favorite dried fruit, chocolate, and nuts.
  • Both original recipes called for cream rather than whole milk, but I decreased the dairy intensity and they still taste great.
  • It's generally helpful to have your eggs at room temperature when baking.
  • If you aren't using almonds in the recipe, replace the almond extract with the same amount of vanilla extract... or mint, if you wanted to make double-chocolate mint scones (mmmm).

Fluffy Cranberry Almond Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 425° F (high altitude 450°). Line a half-sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Lightly mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture looks like meal. Mix in the cranberries and almonds.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and almond extract. Stir into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened. (I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.) If the mixture is sticky, add a little more flour just until the dough doesn't stick to your fingers.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently form it into a ball. Pat the ball into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 wedges with a sharp knife (floured if needed). Place the wedges 1 inch apart on the baking pan. Brush with the tablespoon of milk, and sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar on top.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. If you're not sure how golden brown to go, just wait until it smells irresistible, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm, with butter if desired.

4 comments:

Conrad Family said...

Your scone recipe is delicious!! I just made some this morning ... they were perfect!!!
I'm using your recipe as a base to make cranberry/almond, blueberry, maple pecan, cinnamon and chocolate chip scones.
All of these scones will be the gifts for the teachers, assistants, etc. at school this year.
Thanks for the great recipe ... can't wait to experiment with all of the other flavors ... tweaking the recipe just enough to create a variety of great flavors!!

ann said...

Oh, yum!! Those flavors sound delicious. I love tweaking recipes like that. Thanks for your kind feedback, I'm glad you liked the recipe! :)

MaryKate said...

I stumbled upon your blog searching for a scone recipe, and it turned our delicious!

Diane said...

This sounds like a great recipe. I don't have any almond extract but I do have Ameretto. I'm thinking of substituting 1/4 c. of the milk.