Cherry Walnut Scones

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Breakfast anyone?

On Sunday mornings I like to get up early before anyone else, toss a stick of butter in the freezer and make a surprise batch of scones for my family. I first became obsessed with scones while watching the show Frontier House on PBS. Adrienne Clune would make scones every week for her family out of the most meager supplies. And though I didn’t much care for the Clune clan, I was amazed at this woman’s ability to make great meals with what they were given.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

So I started making scones. I scoured the intertubes for great cream scone recipes. Then I found Fuel Art & Espresso in Mount Vernon. She had hands down the best scones I’ve ever had. They weren’t flat, boring, or dense like some of the scones I’d been making. She gave me the name of the book with the cream scone recipe she used. My world was changed. So I started making cream scones, from various recipes (because frankly, I love HER scones, partly because I didn’t make them…and they have some special something – again, probably because I didn’t make them.) because I wanted to have my own scone recipe and I could enjoy the scones that Tommie made when I went to the coffee shop.

For the most part, I use the America’s Test Kitchen basic cream scone recipe. Mostly. The great thing about scones is that they’re not one of those baked goods that require exact measurements and total obedience to a recipe. Though there are a few things you shouldn’t mess with…

BASIC CREAM SCONE RECIPE: (the way I do it)

INGREDIENTS:

2 C all-purpose flour (plus a little for dusting the countertop)

3 tbsp sugar (plus 2 tsp for dusting over the top – you can also use brown sugar for dusting the top of the scones)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

(don’t vary these four ingredients – you can flub a little with the sugar and flour, but not so much the baking powder or salt)

2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

8 tbsp unsalted butter, frozen (or chilled) and grated (or cut into 1/4 inch cubes) do not remove from freezer (or refrigerator) until you’re ready to use it and incorporate it into your flour mixture.

1/2 (ish) cup fresh cherries (or dried cranberries, raisins, frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries – use whatever fruit you want here – I prefer whatever is in season. Peach is one of my favorites)

1/2 (ish) cup toasted (chopped) walnuts (optional)

(to toast walnuts, preheat your oven to 200 degrees, lay a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, (don’t throw it away, you can reuse it to cook your scones.) In a single layer, lay walnuts on the parchment and bake for 10 minutes or until they become fragrant.)

1/2 c plain yogurt

1/2 c half and half

(If you don’t have yogurt and half and half, you can use 1 cup heavy cream. If you don’t have yogurt, half and half or heavy cream, don’t panic – you can substitute sour cream, yogurt, half and half or 1/2 evaporated milk + half sour cream or yogurt, 1 c yogurt, 1 c half and half – or just about any combination. If you use full half and half or full evaporated milk, you may have to increase the flour in your recipe by 1/8 cup until it looks like a slightly wet dough that you can work with your hands.)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper (or use the parchment that you toasted your walnuts on)

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl (or in a food processor – pulse 2-3 times to just combine)

Cut your butter into strips then into 1/4 inch cubes and distribute over the flour mixture.

Cut the butter into the mixture (with a pastry blender or a knife and fork – or with a food processor) until the mixture resembles course cornmeal.

Add the cut fruit and walnuts to the flour mixture and gently fold the fruit until it’s coated in the flour.

Make a well in the middle of the flour/fruit mixture and add your cream mixture.

Gently fold mixture until just blended.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and dust the top with more flour (just a little unless your dough is really wet.) Knead the dough slightly until it becomes workable (2-3 folds) and form the dough into a ball.

Spread the dough into a 12 inch round 1/2 inch thick disc.

Cut the dough into 8 triangles.

Place triangles on the prepared baking sheet and brush the triangles with half and half then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until light golden brown, turning half-way through baking.

Now comes the hard part. Let the scones cool for at least 10 minutes before devouring them.

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