Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cranberry Scones


Saturday, January 6, 2006
Today was the first day of our annual January Coffee and Doughnut hours. On each Saturday in January, we have a very casual open house at which we serve coffee, tea, cider, doughnuts, and (when I'm in the mood) something baked by me. Today I was in the mood to bake cranberry scones--the basic scone recipe from The Bread Bible, but with dried cranberries substituted for the currants. These scones are made with a half-pound of butter and 2 cups of cream, so right from the start, you have high hopes for them. And I remember that when I made them last year, with currants, I thought that they were the best scones I have ever had, even including some I had in England. And, by the way, although I had some excellent scones and pots of tea in England, I also had some of the sorriest excuses for scones that I've ever eaten and tea that consisted of one Lipton tea bag in a pot of tepid water in England, so the U.S. is not the only place that's going to hell in a handbasket.
Be that as it may, I was feeling quite confident this morning, since I had already baked these scones and remembered them as being relatively uncomplicated, and since I had all the ingredients at hand and plenty of time. Then I realized that I'd poured in an entire carton of half-and-half and the carton of cream was still in the refrigerator. You see? Pride really does goeth before a fall. If I had only been humbler and had double-checked what I was doing instead of blithely grabbing things out of the refrigerator, this never would have happened. I was left with several possibilities: 1) go ahead and bake sub-par scones, 2) dump the first batch and run to the store for more butter and cream, or 3) somehow get the half-and-half out of the flour mixture. 1) Never! 2) not enough time and too wasteful, leaving 3) as the only option. I took a small sieve and poured off most of the half-and-half and then added the approximate volume of what I had discarded. So much for my precise measurements!
The texture seemed pretty good, so I just went ahead with the recipe, and they turned out beautifully. I ended up with 15 scones, most of them shaped into triangles; the ones on the edge were misshapen but tasted just as good. I sprinkled extrafine sugar on one pan, and I actually preferred those because of the tartness of the cranberries.
I finished just before the neighbors started arriving. We had the platter of scones on one side of the table and the platter of store-bought doughnuts on the other side.

I watched surreptitiously to see who chose from the plebeian platter of doughnuts and who chose from the beautiful array of hand-crafted scones, adjusting my opinion of the person's taste up or down as the case may be, acknowledging that sometimes a greasy doughnut may just hit the spot.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I need to be cautious about what I say regarding the comment on bad scones in England. I live here permanently so am growing a union jack on my bum so should answer defensively but my American side just rears it's ugly side all the time so will have to agree with you about horrible fayre abounds in England. A case of 'tourist beware'.
I would choose your scones Marie...but are the donuts from Krispy Kreme? Hummm,could go either way. Cheers, Melinda
P.S. Thanks for being my first blog commenter. I am very honoured!

breadbasketcase said...

Melinda,
I wondered if you would feel the need to defend the honor (or honour) of British scones. We did have incredibly good scones there; in fact, we had wonderful food of all kinds, contrary to your adopted country's reputation. I just expected that I could pop into any olde tea shopppe and get something old-style and excellent. However, I will not hold you responsible for the occasional bad pastry in England if you will not hold me responsible for McDonald's. The doughnuts, by the way, are from a little bakery called Sara Jane's ("Made With Love by Sara Jane"). We have bought doughnuts from nearly every possible store in Minneapolis, including Krispy Kreme, in search of the perfect doughnut. We have some contenders for that title, but Krispy Kreme was actually a little disappointing, considering all the hype when its first store opened here.

Anonymous said...

An American in England can't get too picky about donuts in England...there aren't many choices. Krispy Kreme would do nicely. Again, Cheerio, Melinda

Doughadear said...

Your beautiful platter heaped with these wonderful scones brought back memories of how delicious they were. They were one of the first recipes I tried when I got the Bread Bible and I couldn't stop eating them. I think I might just whip up a batch myself. As for the donut now that you are bread baker extraordinaire you must try homemade donuts. They will bring back memories of what donuts use to taste like before they were mass produced when you would buy them at a bakery.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Marie, your scones look beautiful. I've baked scones only once, since nobody knows them here in Brazil. It was a chocolate chip scone recipe and I was very pleased with the result, even not being able to compare it to other scones. lol

I've already been distracted like you while cooking, I totally related to your experience. :D

breadbasketcase said...

Doughadear,
You have planted a very bad idea in my head. It had never occurred to me to try to make my own doughnuts because it's so easy to buy them, but now you've got me checking doughnut recipes. If I end up standing over a pot of hot oil, I'm not sure I'll thank you!

Patricia,
What? No scones in Brazil!? I believe you will have to be singlehandedly responsible for introducing them. By the way, I hope to travel to Brazil sometime in the next five years or so, and if I do, I will count on you to give me some hints.

Doughadear said...

Well think about all the breads I've baked over the last few months because of your fabulous bread pictures and besides after you make homemade doughnuts you will forever thank me as I thank you for enticing me into baking breads I would not have otherwise. Life can only get better if not sweeter when we get into hot oil once in a while.

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