I’m going to dispense with the story completely for this very simple recipe for cranberry scones. I did have people critcise the previous recipe for being overly long.
It was a summer day, three years ago, when I was at my friend Twane’s house. And he, being highly proficient in the kitchen, churning out all sorts of things, such as brisket, roast chicken, soups and savories, was making scones, but not cranberry scones, aided by a recipe he was following on his phone.
Naturally, I decided to look up my own recipe and try my hand at this. I did. And this, mark you, is an important part of the entire business of making cranberry scones. For I made cranberry scones, and I fed my friends and family and it was good.
Now, here’s what you need to do.
- Have friends who have an only child, a son.
- The son in question must fit almost exactly mid-way between your own two sons. (Did I not mention that you, yourself, must have two sons, about 7 years apart? Hmm)
- You must be sufficiently involved with said friend’s son, dropping off and picking up from school, looking after while parents are away, for example, to the point where he becomes like your own son.
- Now, wait patiently for said “middle son” to move to Austria, meet the girl of his dreams and decide to get married.
- Get invited to the wedding, a two-part, two country event spread across two weeks in Istanbul, Turkey and London, England.
I’m going to skip over the part where you start firming up plans for the trip across the Atlantic, decide to add two weeks at the front of the trip, and have another set of friends join you from California and have an awesome walking, eating, beer drinking holiday across the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, and jump right across the Istanbul portion of the trip and move to the London, England portion of the wedding.
At the wedding and the after wedding pub night, hear the Beloved Bangalan spouting praises of your cranberry scones to the guests there. As luck would have it, some of those friends live in Canada, not ten minutes away from you.
Receive threats… I mean, requests for a bite of those cranberry scones. Resign yourself to an afternoon of scone making. (I also made a chocolate cake with real coffee as the secret ingredient… oops. Damn! I let it out, didn’t I?)
And so it begins.
- 2 cups Flour (APF or All-purpose flour – we’ve been through this “all-purpose” thing before. Search for it on SloWord)
- 1 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Cranberries (words of freedom – use raisins, or currants, if you ain’t got cranberries) I use store-bought dried cranberries. They kinda, sorta look like dark red raisins, but without the texture and taste. They look smoother and taste like cranberries. Feel free to smack yourself on the head, at this point.
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter. More on this later on in our show.
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
Nine ingredients in all. A magical number. Did I ever tell you about the 9? I learned, during my ill-fated attempt at becoming an accountant, that transposing digits in a number gives you a difference of 9. Also, you can cast out all 9s in a number as useless, if you’re trying to calculate the sum of the digits of the number, down to 1 single digit. Try it. It’s a true fact.
Take, for example, the number 48539439. The sum of the numbers in there is 27, which equals 9, if we don’t count the two 9s in there. Now, if we add the two 9s in there to 9, we get 27, which equals…….
(By the way, by some amazing magically fantastic phenomenon, I randomly typed out that number! Isn’t it awesome that it would be 27, or 9!!)
To your consternation, or relief, I shall leave the transposing exercise to you. Consider this as homework!
You will need an oven, preheated to 400F, a mixing bowl or two, a fork, spoon, a couple of hands, a flat surface, and a sharp knife or dough cutter. Oh yeah, there’s cutting involved, and not just the cutting comments I expect. Oh yeah, a sifting thingy to sift the dry ingredients.
- For a brief moment think about taking down the bigger glass bowl that you normally use. Remember, in the nick of time, that you bought yourself some stainless steel mixing bowls that lie in the pots and pans drawer. Compare the effort of opening the drawer and taking out the light steel bowl against the heavier glass bowl that sits in the cupboard above your head, which means that you will have to reach up, bring it out, together with the smaller glass bowl that sits inside it, the replace the small bowl back, up above your head. Add the fact that once all is done, you’ll have to wash the heavy glass bowl, then reach up, take the small glass bowl down, place it into the bigger one and reach up and put it back.
- Stick to the stainless steel bowl.
- Pour all the dry ingredients into the sifting thingy. (Make sure the sifting thingy is placed over the bowl, or you’ll be sorry at the mess and waste…)
- Mix up a bit.
- And now for the unsalted butter…..
The Unsalted Butter episode
I have to say this recipe is painfully imprecise. I mean, cups and teaspoons instead of grams??? And then, unsalted butter. Not melted! In tablespoons. Eight tablespoons worth. How the hell do you measure 8 tablespoons worth of butter from a brick of butter (unsalted)?? Huh? The original said something about the butter, which is, of course, unsalted, being frozen. It then goes on to talk about grating the, unsalted, butter into the mix.
My people, eschew this nonsense. Take a tip from the one who’s tried. So if you find someone… whoops! No time for Bobby Dylan now. Too late! Now the song is playing in your head, right?
Do what I do.
- Take one tablespoon.
- Open the brick of butter, the unsalted brick.
- Use the tablespoon and slice off chunks that look like tablespoons worth into the mix. Add a couple more, just to be sure.
- Now! Work the butter into the dry mix with your fingers. Work it! Work it good. At the end the dry mix will look like lumpy semolina held together by small lumps of butter. Like so.
Part 2 of the Preparation
- Now add the cranberries. After all, we can’t have cranberry scones without the cranberries, now can we?
- Take another, smaller bowl. Oh, put that unsalted butter back into the fridge.
- Into this smaller bowl, ask the party of the second part, viz The Beloved Bangalan, to crack the contents of l’œuf (egg, in English).
- Add the sour cream into the egg.
- Take a fork and whisk the egg and sourcream mixture until you get a creamy custardly fluid.
- Pour the custardly fluid into the dry mix.
- Use the fork to sort of mix the mixes together until you’ve had enough of trying to make it actually work.
- Discard the fork and use your hands to make a lovely, sticky dough.
- DO NOT OVERWORK the dough!
- Find that flat surface we mentioned somewhere up above. (I use a wooden board)
- Lightly flour the flat surface.
- Pull out the mix from the bowl onto the lightly floured flat surface.
- Pat it down into a pizza like (round) shape about a low height. I didn’t use a scale to measure the height of the rolled out thing. But, um yeah, about the height of thin pizza, but a tad higher than that.
- Take the sharp knife or dough cutter and cut it. Hey, like a pizza! You should smallish triangular bits! Just like pizza slices! But smaller!
- Take a baking sheet, which has conveniently been lined with parchment paper. (I did this earlier, before I left for my daily walk. Gotta keep fittish, you know!)
- Place the slices about an inch apart on the tray. I put them this way and that way, so the pointy heads and the flat heads alternate. Very methodical.
- Shove the tray into the oven and set timer for 15 (or 16 minutes).
Part 3 of the Preparation
There were a few people expected, so I decided a single batch that yields about exactly 8. (See – if you cut across the round dough along the diameters 4 times, you get 8. It’s a simpe matter of understanding how pizzas work.)
- So repeat the all the steps in Preparation and The Unsalted Butter Episode.
- This time, think of grating the butter…. bad mistake! Don’t think about it!.
- Use the table spoon method described. Remember it’s only butter.
Now you’re stuck with messy, floury, butter hands and you suddenly notice that you’ve been abandoned to your fate, and the Lovely Bangalan has disappeared to take a shower, wash her hair or whatever it is Bangalan’s do in the bathroom.
- Swear a little bit under your breath, raising your left eyebrow a fraction, whatever a fraction is.
- Use the smaller bowl, previously used for this purpose.
- Remain poised with egg in left hand and haft of fork in right hand, over the bowl, as you remember that you don’t know how to break eggs without fragments of shells falling into the output.
- Commend your fate to the gods you don’t believe in and smack that egg with the handle of the fork. Use the thumbs as you’ve seen being done.
- Heave a sigh of relief as the contents of the egg go into the bowl without any shell fragments.
- Wash your mildly eggy hands.
- Scoop that sourcream out of the container and into the bowl.
- Now repeat the rest of the steps to make the pizza pie thing
- EXCEPT! That this dough seems to be wetter and stickier than the first batch. Somehow, sprinkle a little extra flour, and make it work.
- It’s 15 minutes since the first batch went in. Go check progress.
- They’re risen, and lightly browned, so take out your cranberry scones.
They should look like this.
- Transfer these to a clean serving plate.
- Transfer batch 2 onto the baking sheet.
- Pop that into the oven.
- Answer the door, make suitable noises and let them follow you into the kitchen.
- Realize that something seems to be odd with the oven. It’s showing a temperature far below the 400F..
- Open the door to check and realize the oven has dropped temperature on it’s own initiative.
- Curse roundly and long. Attempt to fix the problem. Restart and watch it reluctantly stagger to 250F and go into some sort of suspended state, inching by 3 degrees every 3 minutes upwards.
- Inspect the second batch of cranberry scones and find that the 15 minutes are up, but the scones are flatter and spreadier. Leave them in there, hoping that the lower temperatures coupled with longer cooking time will help.
The first batch looked great and tasted pretty good, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. Batch 2 tasted pretty good but lacked the great looks of batch 2, looking merely ok.
The hunt for a new home with a proper oven that doesn’t make unilateral decisions will start soon.