Make Me a Sandwich!...Lake House Scones
What does it take to make a delicious breakfast treat? Waking up early in the morning to spend hours slaving over a hot stove to churn out some tasty pastries? Scouring the local farmer’s market to find the freshest fruits available for your muffins? Maybe pounding and beating dough to make it rise and fall to have the best and fluffiest cakes available? No, it doesn’t take all that work. It takes butter and sugar; lots of butter and sugar. At least that is what I learned while baking up this month’s delicious Make me a Sandwich treat; orange-cranberry scones.
One of the advantages of renting a home instead of a hotel while on vacation is the possibility of finding something completely local and original in the house. In this case, our New Hampshire lake house came complete with a handwritten recipe for scones. It was pinned to the board by the refrigerator so I decided to make that my July cooking adventure.
I have a feeling that this recipe is one of those “I don’t really know the measurements or the exact directions so I’m just going to write down an approximation of how to make this” recipes that nearly every grandmother in the world has on hand. Just take a look at the recipe card above. A professionally designed recipe lists all the ingredients first (this does not) and gives you every single possible step in order starting from pre-heating the oven (this does not). It could only mean that the recipe was going to be delicious.
Since the card doesn’t give all the ingredients in order I’ll provide you with a list:
- 3 cups of flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ sticks (about 12 tbsp) of butter (let them sit out for a bit so they are easy to cut)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp fresh orange zest
- Extra sugar and butter for brushing
I hate baking but I’ll tell you that this recipe is easy and quick. Also, before we get started, take a look back at the ingredients. You should notice that there are no eggs. This will become important later in the baking process.
For starters, crank your oven up to 400 degrees and let that bad boy get preheated. I know, I know, the great George Carlin has taught us that there is no such thing as a preheated oven. There are only two states an oven can be in; heated or unheated. Preheated is a meaningless term. Regardless of what George says, just go ahead and set your oven to 400 degrees and let it get heated to that temperature.
While the oven is heating, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut the butter into smaller chunks (maybe a 1/4 inch slices) and mix up the chunks of butter in the dry mixture. We are not talking about blending so don’t try to make this smooth. Just get the big chunks somewhat evenly spaced around the mixture.
Add the buttermilk and mix up the whole thing until you have a playdoh-type ball. My mixture was too dry by only using the cup of milk so I added a little bit more in small increments until I had a ball of dough that felt like playdoh. Add the cranberries and the orange zest to the ball of playdoh and fold them in so you have what looks like a fairly even distribution of cranberries and zest.
At this point you will notice the original recipe card says to put the mixture on a floured surface and to turn the dough. I don’t know what that means. I just kept turning and mixing the dough in the bowl that I had mixed everything else in and it worked out just fine.
Divide the mixture into two balls and shape them into about 6” circles. Place each of the two baking sheet (I used an olive oil spray to on my baking sheet to prevent sticking but I’m sure you could use just the cooking spray or, even better, butter). Put the baking sheet in the 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. I checked mine after 15 minutes with a toothpick and I needed the extra 5 minutes. For those of you who don’t know, you can test if your baking is done by pushing a toothpick into the thing you are baking. If it comes out clean, you are all set. If it comes out gooey, keep baking.
When your toothpick comes out clean, remove the baking sheet from the oven. You may notice that there are some gooey parts still throughout your scone. Not to worry because (1) as I mentioned above there are no eggs so you don’t have to worry about something being undercooked and (2) your chunks of butter weren’t evenly distributed in the dough so some spots will be gooey-er than others.
Brush your finished scones with some melted butter then give them a dusting of sugar. Slice those bad boys up into 6-8 slices and you are all set. Now you have some delicious scones in about 30 minutes that are sure to satisfy. Thanks New Hampshire lake house!