Autumn Baking #3: Dried Cherry Scones
Michigan is a great place to get dried cherries and I have a great old favorite recipe that uses them: dried cherry scones. Scones are pretty ubiquitous these days, but I remember the late 1980’s or early 1990’s when my mom started making them. They were ethnic, they were English and therefore high-class, and they were really exciting.
But they’re still pretty exciting. A scone is really biscuit dough with an egg in it and sometimes fancy things (chocolate chips, dried fruit, lavender flowers) added for flavor. They’re great for breakfast and, if you have a little self control, will stick around a few days on the counter without getting too dry.
Usually when I make this recipe, I substitute 100% whole wheat pastry flour for the cake flour. This makes good scones that aren’t as fluffy as they would otherwise be. You do whatever you’re comfortable with–adding any percentage of whole wheat pastry flour you prefer. Just don’t cut back on the butter. That’s what makes a scone a scone. Eat some soup for lunch and dinner; it will all work out in the end.
Dried Cherry Scones
4 C. sifted flour (all or a combination of cake flour, all purpose flour, or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 C. sugar plus more for sprinkling
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 C. dried cherries
1 large egg
1 C. whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream (Cream makes a better scone, obviously, but I usually use whole milk.)
Preheat oven to 375 with the rack in the middle.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Scatter butter on top and blend with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in dried cherries.
Whisk together the egg and cream in a small bowl then fold into flour mixture until dough just comes together. The dough will be very delicate.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, press into a 1″ thick rectangle or circle. If you cut a rectangle, use a 3″ biscuit/cookie cutter to cut out circles. I prefer to make a large circle and slice the dough into 8 wedges. The scones will be larger, but this is a lot less work and you don’t have to gather up the fragments and re-cut, which makes the dough more tough.
Sprinkle the top of the scones with sugar, if you wish. Bake scones, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until the tops are golden, 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the scones. Cool on a rack about 10 minutes before serving.
Eat with a cup of coffee or tea and fresh fruit. Enjoy your food; don’t feel guilty. Just don’t eat scones everyday.