Buttermilk Scones

by Shelby Larsson on March 31, 2011

in All Recipes, Boutique Businesses, Breakfast, Cookbooks, Food Gifts, Fruit

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

I don’t know about you, but we are REALLY excited about the royal wedding here at Eat Boutique.   Lovers of all things British, we get especially excited about the notion of the afternoon tea and all of the lovely things that go along with it, like clotted cream, light and fluffy scones, bright jams – or best of all – marmalade.

When Maggie asked me to taste a few items for the spring gift box, I was more than a little delighted to taste a few different jams from small-batch producer Lemon Bird Handmade Jams. Based in southern California, jam artisan Amy Deaver specializes in making unique flavors of fruit-based spreads like plum with vanilla, Merlot grape jelly, and Meyer lemon with dark chocolate.  Using seasonal ingredients from local farms, the result is something much more interesting than your average jelly.

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

As the recipient of a pretty jar of the Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade, I knew I needed something very special to serve as the canvas for my precious gift. This colorful marmalade does amazing things with my everyday toast and English muffins, but I wanted to find the perfect scone recipe to go along with it. While I’ve tried several types of scone recipes over the years and have found my go-to recipes, I wanted to try something new. I turned towards a buttermilk scone from Tartine Bakery.

The result was truly fantastic. The Tartine recipe produces flaky, flavorful scones that were not overly sweet. During my scone research, I repeatedly saw one key tip: the trick is to not over-mix or over-knead the dough. A few weeks ago, I saw an Irish cooking segment on the Today Show where the baker stirred the dough together using only one hand. When asked why, she said “once you use two hands, you tend to over-knead.” I tried this trick myself with the Tartine recipe, and was treated to fabulously light scones. The big cubes of butter also helped out too.

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

Come April 29, I had originally planned on playing hooky from work, gathering together some of my favorite anglophiles, and putting on an absolutely brilliant tea.  However, as we get closer to the big day, it has become clear that for those of us in the States, this will NOT be an afternoon tea, but a VERY early morning tea (news coverage will start around 4am, EST- eek!). With that news, I say that there’s nothing wrong with skipping the posh clothing and delicate cucumber tea sandwiches. But do yourself a favor and bake up a batch of these buttermilk scones. They come together quickly, make your house smell incredible, and topped with some Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade, you just might feel like royalty yourself.

Yes, you, the one in your pajamas, wearing a smart fascinator cocked just so in your sleep-tousled hair.

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

Cranberry and Lemon Buttermilk Scones

Adapted from Tartine Bakery

This recipe is a great base for all sorts of flavors. The original recipe called for Zante currants, but I decided to go with dried cranberries.   If you’d like to use fresh berries, freeze them first, which will help keep them whole and intact when you gently mix them into the dough (and won’t turn your scones all blue or red with berry juice). Ginger, both fresh and crystallized, is another favorite scone flavor.

While I have included the full recipe below, I halved the recipe, producing six scones rather than a dozen, which worked well for me. You can also make the full recipe and freeze the scones before baking.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 4 ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp very cold unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest

Topping

  • ~3 tbsp unsalted butter, unsalted
  • Large crystal sugar (turbinado) or granulated sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400* F. Butter a baking sheet, or place a piece of parchment paper on the sheet.

Place the dried cranberries in a bowl with enough warm water to cover them completely. Put the bowl aside for about 10 minutes until the dried cranberries are plumped. Drain well.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl if making by hand (which I recommend as this helps with the goal of not over-kneading the dough), or into the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix it together using a wooden spoon.

Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and scatter them over the dry ingredients. If you are mixing by hand, use a pastry blender or two table knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients ( I gave up and began to simple break up the butter into smaller bits by using my hands). If you are using the mixer, pulse on and off so that you don’t break down the butter too much. You want to end up with a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter, which should remain visible.

Add the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the cranberries all at once, and mix all ingredients together gently with a wooden spoon (I threw my spoon aside and used the “stir with one hand” method), or on a very low speed if using the mixer.

Continue to mix until you have a shaggy dough that just holds together. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a small amount of buttermilk. You should still be able to see little bits of butter, which will help you create a nice, flaky scone once they are baked.

Dust your work surface with flour, and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, gently pat the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 ½ inches thick. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet.

Because I halved this recipe, I went ahead with a rounded dough ball, and cut my scones into wedge slices that way. If you are making the full recipe, go ahead with the large rectangle, or make two rounded mounds for easiest slicing.

Bake the scones until the tops are lightly browned, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Scones taste the best right out of the oven. If you have some leftover, you might want to toast them a bit to refresh.

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

Buttermilk Scones and Lemon Bird Blood Orange Marmalade

Shelby Larsson

Shelby Larsson, writer, editor, resides in Boston, where she wanders across the city, eating and drinking as she goes. She loves New England (with a particular affinity for Maine), architecture, cities, beer, cheese, and adores cooking up a big meal for family and friends. You can read more about Shelby’s eating adventures on her blog, Lady Gouda.

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  • Barbara

    We adore scones and these look like beauties. Fit for a prince and princess!
    Have never had blood orange marmalade…love the color and I bet it’s fabulous!

  • http://erincooks.com Erin

    Very pretty! Although Shelby, you and I both know that Kate surely doesn’t eat carbs ;)

  • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

    I am in love with these scones and discovered that many of my friends use this recipe too. Erin, you’re the cutest – of course Kate doesn’t eat carbs!

  • Shelby

    Barbara: the Blood Orange marmalade is GLORIOUS. It has such a bright, citrus-y taste- sort of how I would imagine sunshine to taste.

    Erin: So true about Kate. Guess that’s why her nickname was “waity Katie”, not “weighty Katie”. That’s just fine- more scones for the rest of us!

  • Swishtish

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. I am British and will be watching the wedding with my little girls and now some scones! It will be VERY english as we have some fabulous National Trust Blood Orange Marmalade that I bought for my husband, to have with them. Trust an American to tell us Brits how to do it properly!!

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