Before I became interested in cooking, I had no idea how weightless a cranberry would seem in the palm of my hand, or how smooth and glossy the surface of it would be. I didn’t know that once you cut into it with a knife that it was white inside, with the tiniest of seeds inside its four chambers (the hollow pockets hidden inside that allow these berries to float in a flooded bog at harvest time). Having had cranberries only in odd and canned-shaped sauce forms, or as a “juice” that was often used in my college era cocktails, I didn’t know that biting into a fresh cranberry would make my mouth pucker and my whole face react to the extreme tartness.
It wasn’t until I was in college watching cooking shows on TV to pass the time that I learned how easy it was to make cranberry sauce from scratch. A few simple ingredients, a quick boil and a few minutes of waiting would create a sauce infinitely more delicious than the stuff from a can. And then I began to wonder why I didn’t use fresh cranberries in more things. I used dried cranberries in salads or in pastries, but I hadn’t used fresh ones. Dried cranberries are usually sweetened, and with this process, they really lose that sharp sourness that is the signature of a cranberry’s flavor.
I have stated many times that I am not a baker. I am not exact enough and too impatient to really achieve any success with anything too complicated, but I find scones to be quick and easy enough to produce. It was one of my favorite things to whip up in the kitchen when I lived overseas, as all the ingredients were easy to find and scones can be flavored any which way you like. I made these flaky and slightly crumbly scones (which, in my opinion, is the way a scone should be; too moist and it’s a muffin!) with a LOT of lime zest and just the right amount of fresh, chopped cranberries lightly coated in sugar. They are lightly sweet, with a good amount of sour zip from the cranberries. You can enjoy them plain, but they are especially good with a little bit of fruit preserves and a dollop of crème fraîche on top (seriously, scone + crème fraîche = life changing food moment for me).
- 2 cups of all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 6 tablespoons of very cold unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- zest of 3 limes
- juice of half a lime
- ½ cup of heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries, chopped
- ⅓ cup of sugar
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the chopped cranberries with the sugar and set aside.
- Combine the ½ cup of cream and lime juice and set aside.
- Pulse in a food processor or sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and lime zest (if sifting add the lime zest afterwards).
- Add the butter to the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (or use a pastry cutter).
- Whisk an egg into the cream mixture until smooth and add to the flour. Pulse until just combined into a wet dough.
- Add the cranberry and sugar mixture and fold in gently until well distributed.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently a few times until the dough has come together.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out to about ¾ inch thickness. Use a wet knife to cut into wedges or squares, or a floured water glass (or biscuit cutter) to cut into rounds.
- Use the remaining cream to brush the tops of the scones.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Serve with crème fraîche and/or fruit preserves.