the best tart lemon and cranberry scones
You know the pastries, muffins and scones sold at those chain coffee houses? How they look so tempting? How they beckon? They’re practically obscene. You’re just standing there, waiting to order your skinny-half-caf-latte, minding your own business when their siren call tickles your ear. (Eyes clenched shut, hands over ears, “la-la-la – I can’t hear you!!!”)
As good as they look behind the glass and under the special lights, they never live up to their billing. Usually dry and crumbly from having sat out and lacking that from-scratch-love. Why? Those chains don’t actually make their sweets and baked goods (they come pre-baked, even pre-sliced – for consistency and uniformity), and they’re always a disappointment to me.
There’s nothing disappointing about these beauties! The recipe came from The Foster’s Market Cookbook, and Sara Foster goes all out. The copious volume of butter lends a softness and tenderness to the dough — and the resulting crumb. The culmination is a luxuriously rich and buttery scone with a mild sweetness, dotted with pockets of jammy fruit.
I made a few switches to the recipe, not because there was anything wrong with Sara’s. I was just
too lazy to go to the store determined to use what I had on hand. I added plenty of lemon zest and tart, juicy cranberries for a satisfying pucker.
These scones are easy to prepare and so much better than the mealy crumble sold in the aforementioned “java-joints”. If you live near Foster’s Market, you’re excused. Otherwise, you need to get busy making these. Like, NOW!
As they bake, your house will be enveloped in homey, sweet aromas — like walking into a neighborhood bakery as the breads and coffee cakes are coming out of the oven. You know what I’m talking about!
Make them for your next brunch gathering, or a festive breakfast. And don’t forget the coffee!
tart lemon and cranberry scones
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour or 5 cups cake flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound cold butter 3 sticks, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup + 1-2 tablespoons buttermilk if needed
- zest of 3 lemons
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries or 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup cream
- You can dust the rounds with sugar or glaze them after they've finished baking. I'm including directions for both methods.
For a crunchy sugar topping
- 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar or regular white sugar
For a glaze
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or cream using lemon juice makes a tart glaze, using cream makes a sweet glaze
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut two pieces of parchment paper and lay them on 2 baking sheets
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and butter and pulse 10-12 times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Don't over mix. (This can also be done in the bowl using a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour -- just takes a little muscle!)
Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl and add cranberries. Toss to combine. Set aside.
In a small bowl or measuring cup add 1 cup buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
Pour buttermilk mixture over flour mixture and stir to combine. If dough is dry, add additional buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time.
Lightly flour a work surface and transfer the dough to it. Form the dough into a large ball and cut it down the middle with a sharp knife. Form a disc with each piece of dough about 6 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches thick.
Place the discs of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Cut each disc in half down the middle. Then cut each half into thirds -- into wedges -- like a piece of pie. Brush the rounds with cream.
If you want the crunchy sugar topping -- sprinkle each disc liberally with two tablespoons of sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
For the glaze -- in a small bowl, mix sugar and lemon juice or cream (depending on which type of glaze you want). When the scones are finished baking, let them cool a bit before drizzling the glaze over the tops.
Separate into wedges and serve.
Recipe NotesThis recipe can be tweaked according to your tastes. When I made it, I wanted to taste the lemon and tartness of the cranberries. It was delicious, but definitely tart. If you prefer a little sweeter scone, swap dried cranberries for the fresh and/or increase the sugar in the dough to 3/4 cup.
Keep in mind that dried cranberries will be nice and chewy in your scone and the fresh ones will pop when they cook and create a jammy little pocket in the dough. Either way is good!