One of the first signs of fall’s approach is when my local farmers market stocks up on an abundance of fresh cranberries. There is something about fresh cranberries that get me every time. It’s pure goodness. I love their tart, and tangy flavor share, paired with a hint of sweetness. So pairing cranberries with scones seemed like the obvious: buttery, tender scones with cranberries is my sort of heaven.
Scones have a stigma of being complicated and difficult to make. I’m about to change that! Contrary to popular belief, scones are so easy to make. They come together in just a few minutes, and their buttery, rich results make for a real treat.
Buttermilk Cranberry Scones
The next time you catch up with a friend over coffee, be sure to have these on hand.
Makes 8 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for your work surface)
¼- 1/3 cup of sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced*
1/2 cup cold buttermilk* or heavy cream
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
Whole milk or heavy cream, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the chilled butter and pulse the dough until the butter is broken up into small pieces about the size of peas.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Add to the bowl and pulse briefly. One tablespoon at a time, add the cold buttermilk and mix until the dough begins to come together. Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, gently incorporate the fresh cranberries into the mixture.
The dough should be slightly wet; use a bit of excess flour to work with ease. Avoid overworking the dough. Aim to keep the dough nice and chilled throughout to avoid the butter solids from liquefying, or you’ll be left with a greasy mess. Knead the dough into an 8” disc that is 2-3” high. Using a chef knife or sharp, long knife, cut the disc into 8 equal triangles (pizza pie style). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Gently transfer scones to prepared baking sheet. Place scones 2 inches apart, with room for them to grow. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each scone with heavy cream (this will help the tops form a golden crust). Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they begin to brown slightly on top.
Pareve Option*: Scones taste so deliciously rich from the butter. It took a lot for me to give in and offer you a pareve option, so if you opt to use that version, don’t let me know about it! Substitute butter for cold margarine, and milk/cream for soy/coconut milk. There, I said it!
Creating Buttermilk*: Unfortunately for the kosher consumer, buttermilk is not readily available, but making a mock version is easy as 1-2-3! Add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice (acid) to one cup of whole milk 10-15 minutes prior. As the milk sits, it will curdle up and resemble buttermilk (for this recipe, allow it to sit in the fridge so it remains cold). This mixture won't get as thick and creamy as buttermilk, but it will perform its role just as well.
Why bother with buttermilk?
A slightly acidic dough/batter helps keep baked goods moist and tender by breaking down long, tough strands of gluten. I’m sure I lost you there, so in simple English, it makes your pastries, muffins, and cakes light, moist and fluffier. As a bonus, the tartness of buttermilk adds a pleasing, subtle tang to cakes and pastries.