Well here we are: Thanksgiving week. I had a grand post planned for you today but I’ve come down with my annual ‘could you come at a worse time?’ cold, so it’ll have to wait. Instead, we have something relatively short but sweet and perfect for those of you looking for a quick breakfast treat to whip up on Thanksgiving morning. These scones are from the Flour cookbook. You’ve heard me go on and on about Flour so I’ll spare you today. But the book is genius. Put it on your Christmas list. Pronto.
Now let’s talk scones. There are cream scone people and butter scone people. We can save ourselves a big debate at this very moment because I know you’ve got shopping to do, and I’ve got a suitcase to pack. And a camera to charge. And sunglasses to find. But let’s suffice it to say: cream scones tend to be softer and cakier (and usually a little flatter) while butter scones tread an interesting balance between hefty and flaky. They’re my absolute favorite, actually. Made with half butter and half buttermilk and creme fraiche, the cranberry orange scones I’m sharing with you today fall quietly and miraculously into both categories at the same time–the reason I’ve fallen so hard for them. They’re light and fluffy while still maintaining a nice exterior flakiness so characteristic of butter scones.
I’m off to New York tomorrow at the crack of dawn; I’m wishing you a most amazing, restful Thanksgiving with your family, significant other, pets, gaggle of friends, wailing toddlers, rowdy neighbors, or whomever and wherever you find yourself sharing the day. Thank you for joining me in my tiny corner of the Internet. I’m grateful for that. And for you. Happy Thanksgiving.
A Few Other Morning Recipes from the Archives:
Vanilla-Specked Scottish Scones
Yeasted Waffles with Pomegranate Syrup
Pumpkin Semolina Cake (while not a breakfast recipe, this is a stunner at any time of day)
Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins (experiment w/ fruit, adding apples or pears instead of berries)
Winter Morning Couscous
Mexican Hot Chocolate
While you may certainly use dried cranberries (or any other dried or fresh fruit of your choosing), use fresh cranberries here if you can; there’s more genuine flavor and a little tartness that compliments the zest of the orange and the slight hand of sugar really nicely. In her directions, Joanne bakes up the scones in one large circle and then cuts them after they’ve cooled. I prefer cutting and separating them straight away so the edges get crisp just like the top.
Adapted from: Flour
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar on low speed for 10 second until just combined. Add the orange zest and cranberries and mix another few seconds to combine.
Scatter the butter over the top of the mixed dry ingredients and beat on low for about 20-30 seconds, or until the butter is slightly broken down and nickel-sized pieces are still visible. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, creme fraiche, and whole egg until well mixed. On low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20-30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. It’s o.k. if there’s a little loose flour at the bottom of the bowl.
Gather and turn it over in the bowl so that it picks up all the loose flour. Dump dough onto a clean counter top and pat it into an 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk over the top of the circle and sprinkle sanding sugar across the top. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and lay each wedge out onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’re golden brown on the top and around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. The scones taste best when eaten the same day, but are fine stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
This time last week I was up in the Skagit River Valley sitting in the early fall sun eating wood-fired bagels and chatting with farmers, millers and bakers at the Kneading Conference West. I made homemade soba noodles, learned the ins and outs of sourdough starters, and sat in on a session where we tasted crackers baked with single varietal wheats. It was like wine tasting, but with wheat and the whole time I kept pinching myself, thinking: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! I don't get the opportunity to be a student much these days -- usually on the other side of things teaching cooking classes or educating people at the farmers markets about whole grains and natural sugars. So to just sit and listen with a fresh (red!) notebook and a new pen was surprisingly refreshing. I miss it already. Thankfully, this cookie recipe has come back as a memorable souvenir, and one that is sure to be in high rotation in our house in the coming months.
Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin's September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We'd finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we'd try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking.
I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.