Years ago I started making this recipe for scones, adapted from one I found in Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville. Since landing on this scone recipe, I've never made another and it's never failed me. I've made these scones for out-of-town house guests, for confirmation open houses, for graduation open houses, for after-church coffee times, for gifts, for road trips, for all kinds of special occasions and celebrations. I imagine I'll make the recipe again before too long for another arrival of guests, for another event.
But why not now? I asked myself today: for the occasion of me sitting at my desk bringing the next client project forward; the occasion of my husband sitting at his desk crafting yet another job search cover letter; the celebration of this moment of now, this moment that stands brightly on its own even as it bridges all that has been and all that is yet to come.
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup dried cherries or apricots (if using apricots, cut into small pieces)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups unbleached white flour
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 pound butter, cold
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit a baking sheet.
Combine the orange juice, dried fruit, and almond extract. Set it aside so the fruit can plump while you prepare the dough.
Whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Set it aside.
Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and place it in the same bowl. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is evenly distributed and resembles coarse meal.
Add the buttermilk and juice and dried fruit mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir together only until just mixed; don't overmix. The mixture will be dry and somewhat crumbly. Sometimes I add a splash more buttermilk (say, a tablespoon more).
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead it gently a couple times and form into a round about 1-inch high. Cut the round into 8 wedges. (A variation is to form two smaller rounds and to cut each into 8 wedges, yielding 16 smaller scones.)
Place the wedges about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stack this baking sheet on top of another baking sheet to keep bottoms from burning. (If you have heavy-duty baking sheets or the kind that has airflow space built in, you may not need the double baking sheets but only the parchment paper.)
Lightly brush the egg-milk mixture across the top of the scones.
Bake for about 20 minutes until only lightly browned. Watch closely the last few minutes.
You can make many variations of this recipe. Instead of dried cherries or almonds, I've used rhubarb, chocolate chips, pecans, or dried cranberries. The original recipe called for orange zest and dried currants, with pecans sprinkled on top. Substituting gluten-free flour for regular flour would also probably work well, although I've never tried it.
[Photo: taken of the ice crystal formations on my porch window last weekend, when it was ten below zero with windchill of twenty-seven below.]