Cranberry-Orange is my favorite flavor combination for Christmas-time desserts. There’s something extra wonderful about fresh scones, sweet breads and biscuits this time of year. For some reason, I always seem to crave them more in the month of December.
Scones are one of my favorite treats, especially if there is a cup of coffee involved. There’s a little person at my house who confessed that she loves scones more than cupcakes. Well there you have it. We know exactly what we are having on Christmas morning!
If you’re thinking the same, well you came to the right place! I’m sharing my recipe and how-to to make them super special.
I have come to find that it takes a little bit of experience with working with dough, to know when it is just-right, based on the feel of it. The recipe itself is super-simple but the handling is what matters. You don’t want to over-work it and you don’t want to over-flour it. If you haven’t made scones before, then it’s worth a little practice to get it right. You will know if you have succeeded if your dough has come together enough for you to cut it and bake it. If that’s not the case, try again and you’ll get there. I’ll be cheering you on!
Cranberry-Orange Scones, recipe by Mili’s Sweets
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups all purpose flour, plus a 1/2 cup reserved flour for dusting
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 sticks of cold salted butter (12 tablespoons), cut into pats
zest of two oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice (about half of an orange)
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup cranberry sauce, strained for only the whole, cooked berries, or 1 cup dried cranberries
Here’s what you’ll do:
First, let’s talk cranberries. They should be highlighted nicely. No matter what, you’ll want to prepare them properly so that they are ready for the recipe. I prefer to strain the whole cranberries from my Cranberry Sauce. If you’d like to make my 10 minute recipe, I recommend omitting the apples and substituting orange juice for the water. For best results, the sauce should be chilled before you use it for scones. If you want, you can use a canned, whole berry cranberry sauce, but it won’t taste the same (of course not). If you prefer to use dried cranberries, I recommend soaking them in a bowl with water for about 20 minutes, to plump them up a bit. Either way, you’ll strain them to separate them from the liquid.
Cranberry-Reduction Glaze Recipe: You can have a nice little addition to your scone by reserving the strained liquid from the cranberry sauce (my recipe, not the canned version). Place it pan at medium heat. Once it starts to bubble at the edges, place a timer on for 10 minutes. Stir while it reduces. Once 10 minutes are up, remove from heat and allow to cool. I used the glaze to pipe onto the top of the royal icing on the finished scone.
Now that we’re all set with the cranberries of your choice, you’ll want to prepare the orange zest and juice and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either a silpat mat or a piece of parchment paper.
Place all of the dry ingredients, including flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, in a large bowl.
Next, add the pats of butter. Use a pastry-blender to cut the cold butter into small pieces, into the dry ingredients.
Make a small well and pour in the orange juice and buttermilk.
Use one hand to rotate the bowl around in a circle while you work. Use your other hand (I’m a lefty) to sweep your hand in from the outside edge, gently bringing the flour into the buttermilk. It will soon be incorporated. Add the orange zest and cranberries.
Dust a flat, clean surface with a small handful of flour, from your 1/2 cup of reserve.
Once your dough has mostly come together in the bowl, you’ll want to handle it (gently) to bring it together and shape it for cutting into scone pieces.
Dust the top with a small handful of flour, from your 1/2 cup reserve. Bring the dough together by handling it so that all of the pieces have formed a ball. This will not take a lot of time. You just don’t want to see crumbling or coming apart. If the dough is crumbling, it needs a little more moisture. If that is the case, bring your dough back into the bowl and add a tablespoon more of juice or buttermilk to work in.
The dough should not be too wet with the ratio in this recipe, but if you see see many pockets of wetness from the buttermilk, then first work the dough just a little more. If that still doesn’t help, give the dough another liberal dusting of flour from your reserve.
Once it’s just right, you’ll be able to stretch and bend it and pat it down into the shape you want. For scones, I make it into a narrow rectangle. Create a shape that is a little less wide than the size of scones you want. Sometimes I like to offer little scones. This time, I went big. Either way, you will want to the dough to be between one and one and a half inches in height.
Use a large knife to cut through the dough to make pieces to bake. I make a pattern that creates several triangles, where the back, imperfect dough will be the back side of the scone.
On the prepared cookie sheet, place the cut dough with plenty of space in a criss-cross pattern.They will expand while baking and it’s best that they do not touch. On a typical cookie sheet, I was able to bake 8 at one time.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and cooked-through. A good test to see if they are ready is to look at the bottom (kind of like a cookie). Take a spatula that has peek-holes. Lift the scone from the cookie sheet and peek under it. If it is consistently golden brown, your sones have finished baking.
Allow to cool completely. Maybe you like them just like this. If that’s the case, you case done!
If you need a little more sweetness and beauty, then I have some ideas for finishing them off.
I love adding sweetness onto the scone, since the pastry itself is not very sweet. I love a good drizzling of royal icing to start. To see my same classic recipe paired with Gingerbread Cookies or iced Shortbread Cookies, please go to my recipe links.
I drizzled on royal icing so that most of the top of the scone was completely coated.
I took a small piping bag and used the Cranberry Reduction Glaze (that had already cooled at room temperature) and made a little flower pattern at the top. At the center, is a whole cranberry, taken from the strained cranberry sauce. I used white, coarse sprinkle-sugar to completely coat the berry and place it on top. I also sprinkled a little more of the lovely sugar at the top, before the royal icing set.
The inside of the scone is tender, buttery and flavorful. The outside has a nice bite, with the perfect amount of sweetness and the added flavor of cranberry with the glaze and yummy sugar-coated fruit.
I love this treat and can’t wait to make Cranberry-Orange Scones at least a few times before saying goodbye to the Christmas season.
Hope you can make these! If you do, please let me know how it goes!