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.
The Thanksgiving Table
Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing.
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.
It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts. There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.
I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.
I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.