Roasted Cranberry & Vanilla Bean Scones for Christmas Day....or any day!
This is how I came to bake a batch of cranberry scones today. I had a bag of cranberries in the fridge, which had been starting to hang out in the crisper bag a bit too long. The longer the stay, the more cranberries discarded for being wrinkled or mushy, and just plain way past their shelf life. I most often make cranberry sauce long after the Thanksgiving day box, simply because I love it. I will eat cranberry sauce straight up out of the bowl, or on a dollop of non-fat yogurt.
But I have been hankering to bake something, and this recipe for Roasted Cranberry & Vanilla Bean Scones by Erin Alderson caught my eye. It was a new way to use my cranberries, that would also satisfy my drive to do some holiday baking.
Because I had recently purchased a food scale, I could now weigh my flour in grams instead of using measuring cups. I had been reading how important it is to be accurate when baking. Accuracy requires measuring ingredients on a food scale, and I am proud to have stepped up my baking game. This scale is a pleasure to use. It resets the weight to zero, when you press a button after putting an empty bowl on the scale. The scale then measures the ingredients you add, in ounces or grams, depending on how you set the scale.
I had also recently purchased a pastry blender, but think I will donate it to housing works. While it is sort of good for cutting down large chunks of butter into smaller pieces, the pieces get caught between the blades when blending, and then you have to ungunk the blades with a knife. This happens over and over again as you blend in the butter with the pastry blender gadget. Not worth the effort, at all. So, goodbye pastry blender, hello hands. And perhaps just cut up the butter into smaller pieces, before even attempting to blend the butter into the flour with your fingers.
I have come home to myself in my baking techniques. In my twenties, when I used to bake bread when living on Jane Street in the Village, I did everything by hand. Later, when I married, and Dan and I were given a Cuisinart for a wedding present, I started just throwing everything into the bowl and blending it together. Lately I have been thinking that this easy peasy method might not be yielding the best results.
So now I have returned to mixing my ingredients in a bowl. Actually, in separate bowls before bringing them all together. And I mush in my butter with my fingers. A very zen exercise that I highly recommend in this (Donald Trump) age of anxiety. One more tip I learned by watching some baking videos. Mush butter into the flour using your fingers. Keep the butter larger rather than smaller, more pea than sand. Fluff everything together after adding your liquids. Remove the dough that holds together, from bowl to board. Then add a little more liquid and fluff together the rest.
Now, here is the recipe (at end of this post). Bake yourself some Roasted Cranberry & Vanilla Bean Scones on Christmas Day, or any day while cranberries are still in season and may be found in the market. Enjoy!
Beyond the Kitchen...This, That, and the Other.
As Julie Anderson sings in "The Sound of Music," these are a few of my favorite (internet) things:
Truman Capote Reading his "A Christmas Memory - Original 1959 album (just skip grating violin music at the beginning)
Roasted Cranberry & Vanilla Bean Scones
The cranberries in these scones tasted too tart to me right after baking. However, upon tasting another scone the next day, the taste of the cranberries seemed to have mellowed and were perfectly wed with the cake of the scone. I was going to make a recommendation for making the cranberries sweeter, when my first impression was that they were too tart. You may want to make them sweeter, and in that case, I am suggesting two options. One is to sprinkle the cranberries with a squirt of orange juice, an then sugar, before baking. The second suggestion is to prepare the cranberries as you would for sauce and let cool before using in this recipe - perhaps cut down on the liquid a bit, so not too loose. They always say to try a recipe as it was written first, so see what you think after following the recipe and giving the scones a day. Hard to do, because you will want to eat one right away.
- 2-12 cups fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup 2% or whole milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups (240g) Einkorn Flour. Can sub whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour for Einkorn
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean (I substituted ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (I substituted milk)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cranberries in a roasting pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cranberries should have released their juices. Set aside to let cool. (see summary notes for recommendations for alteration of this step of the recipe)
While cranberries are roasting, slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds into a small sauce pan. Add the milk to the pan, bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and let cool completely. (I skipped this step and just added ½ tsp of vanilla to the liquids of the recipe)
Once cranberries and milk are cool, whisk together Einkorn flour, baking powder, and salt. With your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture. Butter should be in pea size pieces.
In a separate now., whisk together 1 egg, maple syrup, and milk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just coming together. Scoop dough onto a well floured surface and pat into a large rectangle. Spread cooled cranberries over dough and roll into a log or fold into a circle. Cut eight triangles out of the dough and place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
Whisk together egg and heavy cream (I substituted milk), then brush over scones. Bake for 20-24 minutes until scones are golden and firm. Remove from oven and let cool before eating.