I just baked up some close-to-perfect scones as a special birthday treat to myself. (I’ve been celebrating my birthday for a little over a week now, but you only turn 32 once, right?) It was my excuse to indulge yet a bit more. And what’s better than baking something warm and scrumptious on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Truth be told, I had a one-year-old hanging on my legs and fussing to be picked up for the better part of the 20 minutes it takes to make this recipe from start to finish, but it was still enjoyable.
I adapted this recipe from Molly Wizenberg’s book “A Homemade Life.” If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet, run, don’t walk, to your local bookstore or here to pick up a copy. Her mouth-watering yet down-to-earth recipes can also be found on her blog, Orangette. I decided to leave out the lemon zest and crystallized ginger and concoct my own dried cherry and almond combo. It just seemed right for the fall season and I thought it would be a delicious pairing of flavors.
I must say for a first attempt, these turned out quite well. I love how the half-and-half carmelizes the tops of the scones. I forgot to do it this time, but I would also add a sprinkling of raw (demerara or turbinado) sugar after you brush the tops with half and half before baking.
The result is gnarly and crumbly on the outside and wonderfully flaky and moist on the inside. The dried cherries give a lovely sweet, tart bite and the almonds add some crunch. Spread with a little real butter, and it’s heaven! Have them with a cup of coffee or milk in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon with tea like the Brits. Daydreams of a return trip to London…
Cherry Almond Scones
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (kosher is best)
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you could also try almond extract)
½ cup dried cherries (pitted) coarsely chopped
½ cup sliced raw almonds
½ cup half-and-half, plus 2 tablespoons for glazing
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and dump into the flour mixture. Working quickly with your hands, pinch the butter into small pieces with the tips of your fingers until the flour is crumbly in texture. Do not work the butter too much or it will start to melt! The pieces of butter should be about pea-sized.
Add the sugar, cherries, and almonds and stir a couple of times to mix.
In a small bowl, pour the ½ cup half-and-half and crack the egg into the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Beat with a fork to combine. Gradually pour the liquid into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon. Stir just until it starts to hold together and form a ball.
Start working with your hands and knead the dough just a tiny bit on a lightly floured surface to form a ball. With the palm of your hand, gentle press the dough into an approximately 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Don’t worry about making the circle perfect. Just do this quickly so you don’t overwork the dough. Cut the circle into 8 or 10 wedges depending on how big you want the scones to be.
Transfer the wedges to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Pour the additional 2 tablespoons of half-and-half into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the scones with a thin coat to glaze. Sprinkle the raw or demerara sugar on top.
Bake the scones for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and serve almost immediately. They are best warm with a thin smear of butter.
Molly Wizenberg recommends storing them in an airtight container if you plan to eat them in a day or two. She suggests sealing them in a heavy plastic bag or container and freezing them for longer storage. In either case, definitely follow her advice and reheat them briefly in a 300°F oven. They are best served warm!