My husband has a tasty habit when we travel. A road trip must include finding a mom and pop bakery, no matter the destination. Some of the best bakeries we've discovered are in small towns. It truly adds sweetness to our journey.
Not long ago, on one such trip, I spied a case of fresh-from-the-oven scones. They were light golden and cakelike with a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top. My selection at our pit stop proved delicious. It also encouraged me to dust off an old scone recipe and try to improve it. This recipe is the result and, I am happy to report, will replace my tried-and-true, almost two-decades-old version.
One of the aesthetic pluses to scones is they can look a little artisan. They can be a bit flaky and crackled on top. Don't fret if they're not perfect or completely uniform. Keeping them about the same size and shape helps a batch cook evenly, but don't dwell on appearance.
I've provided topping options that might appeal to your taste buds. Personally, I find these traditional pastry wedges to be yummy with or without additional garnishes. You be the judge.
Whether you make these for breakfast, snacking or dessert, or you're a novice or skilled baker, my guess is you'll be smitten. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!
CHOCOLATE, CRANBERRY AND ORANGE SCONES
Makes: 8 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, chilled, shaved or grated
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup cranberries, dried
1-1½ teaspoon orange zest/grated peel
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or sliced almonds (optional)
2/3 cup fresh buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Optional toppings (see instructions below): Milk, powdered sugar, coarse sugar, glaze or icing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl add all dry ingredients — flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt — and whisk with a fork. Add in the chilled shaved or grated butter. Quickly incorporate with a pastry blender, rocking back and forth through the dry ingredients. Add in chocolate chips, cranberries and orange zest. If adding nuts, do so with these ingredients and blend.
In separate medium bowl, whisk well the wet ingredients — buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla. Then transfer wet ingredients to the large mixing bowl. Stir but do not overmix. If too dry, add a few more drops of buttermilk. If too wet, add a small amount of flour. Transfer scone dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead four or five times. Shape into a round or disc, about 7 inches in diameter. The thickness should be about 1½ inches. Cut the circle in half and then cut each half into four wedges, as similar in size as possible for even cooking purposes. Place on a baking sheet prepared with either cooking spray or parchment paper.
Optional toppings: Before baking, brush a small amount of milk on each scone top. Or add coarse sugar to top scones before baking. Or after baking, dust powdered sugar on the tops of cooked scones or drizzle glaze or icing on baked, cooling scones.
Bake for 16-20 minutes. Oven times vary with altitude. When baking this recipe for the first time, check at 16 minutes and test for doneness.
Tops should be lightly browned and flaky.