Serves: Makes 8 scones
- 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
- Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
- 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup (3 ounces) dried sour cherries
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) cold buttermilk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Procedures:Buttermilk does wonders for baked goods, adding a touch of acidity and an appealingly homey taste whenever it is included. Buttermilk scones are a classic-these are perfumed with orange zest and flavored with chewy nuggets of dried sour cherries. And they're easily adapated. Omit the sugar and you've got warm dinner biscuits. Change the flavorings and you change the scone-try dried blueberries and lemon zest, dried cranberries and ginger, or dried apricots and toasted hazelnuts. If you love the flavor of gingerbread, try the variation at the end of the recipe, which is the base for Gingerbread Shortcakes with Caramelized Apples and Cider Sabayon.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a thin silicone mat. Place the flour, ¼ cup sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and process for 10 seconds to blend well. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse 5 times at 1-second intervals, or until the butter is cut into medium pieces. Add the dried cherries, but don't blend them in. Pour in the buttermilk and pulse another 20 times, or until the dough holds together in large, thick clumps. Use a spatula to scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently squeeze or knead the clumps together until they form a cohesive dough.
If the dough seems sticky, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Pat the dough into a circle 7 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Use a chef's knife to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Brush the tops with a thin coating of the beaten egg (you will not use all the egg). Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, until firm to the touch and golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve the scones warm or at room temperature.
Storing: Once the scones are baked, serve them within 2 hours, when they are at their freshest and most appealing. Store uncovered at room temperature until serving time.
Omit the orange zest and dried sour cherries. Substitute ⅓ cup (2½ ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar for the sugar. Add 2½ teaspoons ground ginger, 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon ground cloves to the flour mixture. Decrease the buttermilk to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) and combine with 2 tablespoons light, unsulfured molasses before adding.
This is a savory version, perfect for the dinner table. Omit the sugar, orange zest, and dried cherries and follow the recipe as directed for light, tender biscuits.