The holidays are here! FTW? How did this happen so quickly? It seems like only yesterday, I was arriving in California to start my adventure. Time flies. So many ups and downs and in betweens!
Speaking of in-betweens, I have always wondered the difference between a scone and a biscuit (yup). I am certain that if I were brought up in the south, or across the pond, I would have a more firm stance on this. But I don’t, seeing that I am a Wisconsin girl, through and through.
But what I DO know is that fresh and tart cranberries (preferably from WI!), creamy butter (Clover has been my go-to since moving to CA), crunchy walnuts (from CA!) and sweet meyer lemon zest (duh, from CA!) are bound to get along in what I think is a scone. According to the internets, scones are sweeter, have a tighter crumb, and may or may not contain egg. And I guess that biscuits are not to have little bits of nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or really anything “chunky”. The more ya know…
Carry on, I say! (or, Forward! The motto of my motherland). The base of these is a little different from my rhubarb and buckwheat scones, with the inclusion of eggs, and the fact that this recipe yields roughly twice as many scones. The eggs add more adhesion to the dough, and give the crumb a more delicate texture (i.e. they are less crumbly/rubbly than scones sans-eggs) with more of a lift. I initially was going to omit the eggs, but stumbled on this useful page from King Arthur. But never fear, if you wish to omit the eggs, you can follow the template for the rhubarb and buckwheat scones and sub-in whichever flours you would like, with other add-ins like fresh cranberries and walnuts (but note, I have not specifically tested other combinations…let me know if you do in the comments!).
Side note: for you vegans out there, I see that Dana has provided a wonderful vegan scone recipe that is quite close to the King Arthur template, but utilizes luxurious virgin coconut oil and nutritious flax egg!
These scones are…festive…speckled with all those dark tart red cranberries, studded with toasted walnuts, and so amazingly fragrant with meyer lemon zest, which is encouraged to release all of the essential oil power by rubbing the sugar with the zest. I encourage you to not skip brushing these with cream/milk, and sprinkling with crunchy demerara sugar; the sweet crust that forms on top is such a perfect compliment to the tart, zingy cranberries. And one last note (because as you all notice, I am all about the notes, especially ones that allow flexibility in our lives): one of amazing thing about scones is that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and bake them off fresh when you wish straight from the freezer. So…really…this makes an ideal holiday morning treat. Or afternoon tea-time treat. Or coffee snack. Whatever. They are especially delicious drizzled generously with honey (to counter those tart, beautiful cranberries), still warm from the oven. Go full authentic and eat with clotted cream (or maybe some greek yogurt?). Best the day they are baked, but revived with a quick heat in the oven the next day, I hope you enjoy these and have an amazing holiday season!
Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones // Makes 8 very large scones or 16 small scones or quite possibly 12 mediums scones //
- 1 ½ cups (140 g) fresh cranberries (or frozen), either chopped by hand or in a food processor into medium sized pieces
- 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, crushed into small-ish pieces
- 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of 2 meyer lemons (or substitute 1 regular lemon and 1 orange)
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (210g)
- 1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour flour (113g)
- 1 TB baking powder (12g)
- 3/4 tsp sea salt (3g)
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 stick (8 TB) butter, cut into small-ish chunks, very cold (straight from fridge)
- 1/2 cup plant-based milk or cream/moo milk, plus 1 TB for brushing tops
- 2 eggs
- 4 tsp demerara sugar, or coconut sugar, for sprinkling on top of scones
- Measure the sugar in large bowl, and zest citrus on top of sugar. Rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant and incorporated.
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg over the lemon zest sugar in the large bowl. Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork.
- Cut butter in using pastry cutter or the fork, or, use your fingers. Butter chunks should be about the size of peas and dimes, with some a little larger and a little smaller. Using your hands at the very end to rub the butter between your fingers and thumbs to create sheets of butter to form flatter pieces of butter that will create layers and lift when baked. Work quickly to not melt the butter with the heat of your hands.
- Stir in the almond milk/egg mixture, mix for a few stirs, then add the cranberries and walnuts. With a spatula, mix briefly, but confidently, until mostly no dry patches remain (but a rough, shaggy texture with dry-ish spots here and there is perfect!). Turn out onto a lightly floured board, gather the dough, divide in roughly have and stack the pieces, repeating this once more for optimum layering of butter for flakiness. Divide in half, and form each half into a 6” diameter disc that is 1.5” thick.
- Cut each half into 4 triangles for huge scones, or 8 triangles for smaller scones, or even 6 triangles for medium-ish scones (if cutting the discs into 8 each, they will be small-but don’t worry, they rise and puff), and place on a lined sheet tray. Freeze for 30-45 minutes (or, freeze all the way, wrap individually once firm, place in a bag or container and bake off as directed when desired).
- Preheat oven to 425F. When heated, take scones from freezer, brush with cream or milk, and sprinkle each with ½ tsp (or a generous pinch!) of demerara sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and fragrant. Frozen scones may need a minute or two more. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy! These are best fresh, but baked scones can be freshed in a hot oven (350F) for a few minutes. Cheers!
Fragrant meyer lemon zest is rubbed into sugar…the best type of aromatherapy in the kitchen!
Chopped cranberries (either fresh or frozen work here, I used frozen, and chopped them in the food processor). The color is so damn festive!
Walnuts, a natural pair with cranberry!
Alright. You’ve measured/weighed and sifted, now to cut in the butter. Using your fingers, working quickly, is encouraged. Flat, larger pieces will produce puffy, layered scones. Then, we confidently and quickly stir in the milk and egg mixture. The key phrase for scones: hot shaggy mess. Literally. This will look like a goddamn nightmare, but never fear: the shaggier, the more “undermixed”, the lighter the scone. Seriously. You cannot go wrong.
In goes the rubble of cranberry and walnuts! A quick stir and fold of sorts with a spatula to get it all in there…still a shaggy hot mess…you’re doing great…you just gotta trust your inner baker here.
Alright. The scone batter gets a quick pat down. Sliced. You got it…if you’re feeling greedy, cut into larger triangles. If you’re feeling more petite….
…then cut each disc into 8 triangles. I guess you try cutting each disc into 6, and settle in the middle…whatever you want!
The chunks! The butter! The love! Ahh. You nailed it!
Get these ruby-speckled babies into the freezer. Clean up your mess. Make a coffee. Maybe just admire one more time how just kinda cute these little dudes are…
Love it. Ok, carry on. Get your oven preheated. Brush with milk or cream. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake bake bake…coffee coffee coffee….(or tea? I dunno..whatever you want!)…Just enjoy! Share, repeat. Happiest baking to you all!