Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Downton Abbey and hold a special place in my heart for Mrs. Patmore and the delectable dishes she produces in her kitchen. However, Mrs. Patmore isn’t very keen on progress invading her sacred cooking space (and I can’t blame her – her hand mixture catastrophe hit a little too close to home with this once budding baker). Instead, she relies on traditional cooking and baking techniques to create impressive menu after impressive menu. That’s why I offered to make scones for my latest Downton viewing sesh. Not only did I crave something crisp and buttery to get me through frame after frame of Bates’ death stare, but scones are delightfully simple to bring together. There’s no gadget requirement holding you back from making these creamy treats for breakfast or a whatever-time-of-day-you’re-reading-this snack. Okay, one reason might be their high potential to be Paula-Deen-endorsed. But if you’re going to get friendly with butter this weekend (and, really, why would you not?), these are just as easy as walking down to Starbucks for a slightly stale, shipped-across-the-country La Boulange croissant. RIP authentic La Boulange – maybe you should have taken a page from Mrs. Patmore’s cookbook and resisted the call of change.
“Anyone who has use of their limbs can make a
salmon mousse scone.” – Mrs. Patmore 😉
Cranberry Orange Cream Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes: 4 large or 8 small scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter
2/3 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
Zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup heavy cream, chilled (do not substitute)
1. Place oven rack in middle position. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. Quickly cut chilled butter into small cubes and work it into the flour until the mixture feels like a coarse meal. Most butter pieces should be about pea-sized, but there can be some larger pieces (about the size of miniature marshmallows).
4. Use a wooden spoon to stir in cranberries and orange zest. If needed, quickly mix in with your hands, but do not over-mix (you want to keep the butter as cold as possible).
5. Use a wooden spoon to stir in chilled heavy cream. The dough will be crumbly, which is fine. If way too crumbly to even think about shaping, add 1 more tablespoon of heavy cream.
6. Flour a clean work surface. Squish dough into a rough log shape. If making large scones, cut into 4 equal sized scones. If making smaller scones, simply cut into 8 equal sized scones. You can also try the “pizza” (wedge) method, but I found the dough a bit too crumbly to cut into wedges.
7. Place scones on an ungreased or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Once cool and sturdy enough to handle, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 10 more minutes before serving. I enjoyed these scones at room temperature, but I’m sure they’d be lovely served warm with butter and honey.
Tip: These scones can be frozen. Simply place scones on a baking sheet and allow to freeze. Then, wrap frozen scones in plastic wrap and wrap again with aluminum foil. To bake, simply follow the instructions in Step 7 but allow scones to thaw in the oven while preheating – just be sure to watch them closely and modify the baking time to account for the thawing.