Growing up, I was always very proud of my Irish heritage. Every St. Patty’s day my mom would make her version of colcannon (basically mashed potatoes with shredded cabbage, bacon pieces, and grated cheddar) and currant scones. The scones were always my favorite part. As an adult, my celebration of St. Patty’s Day has changed considerably (hello, Guinness and Irish Coffee!), although I still always make scones.
This year was my most uneventful St. Patty’s Day to date. I had class that night and hadn’t been since my knee surgery and didn’t want to miss another class. Not just that, but I haven’t been able to get in the kitchen and cook with my bum knee and didn’t want to ask Joseph to go out of his way to make an Irish meal for me when he has a lot going on himself (plus, he’s already been waiting on me hand and foot ever since the surgery).
But he knew that making scones was important to me for St. Patty’s Day (and he really wanted to eat them regardless of what day it was) so this morning he asked me how hard they would be to make. I was shocked. Joseph is an amazing cook, but he doesn’t really venture into the baking world — that’s my realm. He would have done just fine on his own, but I’ve been itching to get back to the kitchen and they’re not hard at all to make. So we plunked a chair in the kitchen and Joseph ran around getting things for me while I whipped them up.
Now, there’s really nothing wrong with currants, but they just don’t excite me that much. And sure, they would be more traditional…but I just don’t see the point when there are so many interesting scones out there. I had figured we would just make lemon blueberry scones because I knew we had all the ingredients…or at least I thought we did. I grated my lemon and sent Joseph to the freezer to pull out the frozen blueberries, but he came back empty handed. Apparently we had used them all up to make pancakes a while back. Oh well! Scones are so versatile! On to Plan B!
Plan B was cranberry orange scones. But we ate our last orange two days ago and we didn’t have enough cranberries. But we did have a box of clementines and some dried cherries. While I once made a cake out of clementines (and when I say it was made out of clementines, I mean it used the whole fruit, peel and all), I’ve never seen a recipe call for clementine zest. I figured it was probably just because people are more likely to have oranges on hand and oranges are a little easier to zest, as I now know. And so our cranberry, cherry, and clementine scones were born. And they are SO good! Wanna know why? Because I got the base scone recipe from my mother-in-law, who is an amazing chef, who got the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, which, if you ask me, is all the proof you need to know that they’re going to be really good. But don’t take my word for it, get yourself to the kitchen!
Cranberry, Cherry, and Clementine Cream Scones
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 teaspoon clementine (or orange) zest
3/8 cup dried cranberries*
3/8 cup dried cherries*
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
* You can play around the actual ratio, but the total amount of dried berries should be 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 425F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor, if using, or a large bowl if not. Whisk, or pulse for a couple of seconds to blend them all together. Add the butter pieces and zest. Process using the pulse setting for 12 one-second intervals. If you’re not using a food processor, use a pastry blender or two knives to work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal with a few larger pieces of butter. Add the dried cranberries and dried cherries and pulse for one second or stir to combine.
If you did the first step in a food processor, transfer the flour/butter mixture to a large bowl. Pour in the cream and the egg and use a rubber or silicone spatula to bring it together. When it’s mostly combined, transfer the dough and any dry bits to a clean countertop or large cutting board. Knead for about 10 seconds to fully combine everything and form into a ball. Flatten the ball to a large disk and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until the tops are light brown.
Allow the scones to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before eating to allow them to firm up.