Like all good scones, Cranberry Orange Scones have a tender crumb and crunchy edges. Each bite contains tart cranberries and a scent of orange, and the powdered sugar sprinkled on top makes them look magical.
There’s no heavy lifting here. Mix the dough by hand, shape it into two flat rounds, and cut the rounds into wedges. Once in the oven, your house will fill with a sweet aroma.
These buttery, flaky scones along with your favorite brew will brighten any chilly morning. In fact, it’s an ideal baking project for a snow day or breezy weekend when you just want to stay cozy.
How to Make Scones
Cranberry Orange Scones start with rubbing orange zest into the sugar. The zest is the thin outer layer of the orange—it contains flavorful oils. When you rub it into sugar, it brings out and intensifies the orange flavor.
To the citrus sugar we then add cold ingredients. The butter, egg, and heavy cream should come straight from the fridge. If they aren’t cold, pop them in the freezer for a bit while you gather the rest of your ingredients. Cold ingredients help keep the butter intact, so it melts in the oven and forms lovely layers, for flaky, tender scones.
While there are several good ways to make scones, I use my fingers to flatten the cold cubes of butter and incorporate it into the dough instead of using a food processor or box grater. Flattened, cold butter flakes give you laminated dough (think flaky, not dense).
Use your hands to mix the dough. You will have a much better sense of the dough’s consistency. I recommend holding the bowl with one hand (to keep it clean) and mixing the dough with the other hand until it comes together.
Don’t overwork the dough. You just want the clumps to come together. It won’t be smooth. It will look a bit craggy around the edges, but that’s ok.
After shaping the dough into scones, freeze them for 15 to 30 minutes before baking. This keeps the dough from spreading too much in the oven.
For this recipe you can use fresh or frozen cranberries. Don’t defrost the frozen cranberries if that’s what you’re using. They will bleed into the dough and become weirdly mushy.
I like to use whole cranberries in this recipe, but if you prefer smaller pieces, coarsely chop them in a food processor. Pulse them only briefly so you have distinct pieces, not pulverized. Personally, I love the surprisingly tart bites of whole cranberries.
Swaps and Substitutions
Here are few ideas for making this recipe your own.
- Use lemon zest instead of orange zest.
- Instead of heavy cream, use buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche thinned with milk to match the consistency of heavy cream.
- I recommend adding 1/4 teaspoon baking soda if you use cultured dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt. Thick liquids are better than thin ones, so while you could use plain milk, it won’t add much flavor.
So Many Variations
Did you come here looking for Cranberry Orange Scones, but are inclined to make something a little different? There are so many options!
Fresh fruit: Replace the cranberries with an equal amount of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or small chunks of apples or plums.
Dried fruit: Replace the cranberries with an equal amount of dried cranberries, raisins, chunks of dried apricots, dates, or figs. Just be sure they are plump and not dried out. Soak them in orange juice for about 30 minutes and drain well before using.
Oats, cornmeal, or whole wheat: Replace 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with oat bran cereal, cornmeal, or whole wheat flour.
Crunchy topping: After brushing the unbaked scones with cream, sprinkle the tops with turbinado or natural cane sugar.
Glazed: Make a glaze by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice. Drizzle over the cooled scones and allow the glaze to set for about 10 minutes.
To Make Ahead and Freeze
To freeze uncooked scones: Cut the scones into wedges and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze uncovered until hard. Layer the frozen scones separated by pieces of parchment in a lidded container or a plastic freezer bag. The frozen scones will keep in the freezer for about two months.
To bake scones from frozen: When you’re ready to bake the scones, don’t defrost them. Set them on a baking sheet and bake as directed, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
How to Store Leftover Scones
Scones are best eaten soon after baking, but delicious toasted the next day. They will stay relatively fresh, wrapped in foil or in a lidded container, for two days at room temperature. After that, they lose some of their oomph, so it’s best to reheat them in the oven or toast them.
Leftovers can also be frozen in a lidded container or freezer bag for up to two months.
To reheat, thaw the scones for 20 minutes on your kitchen counter. Then bake them lightly covered with foil in a 350º F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through.
Cranberry Orange Scones
1/3 cup (66g) sugar
Zest from 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (140g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups (130g) cranberries, fresh or frozen but not thawed
1 large egg
1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing the scones
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400ºF:
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. With your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar to infuse it with the orange oil. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine.
Flake the butter and add cranberries:
Distribute the butter over the dough and pinch the cubes with your fingers to flatten them. Toss them in the flour until the mixture looks flaky. Stir in the cranberries.
Add the wet ingredients:
In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the egg and 1 cup heavy cream together. Drizzle it over the dry ingredients, using one hand to toss the ingredients together until large clumps form. If the dough seems dry at this point, add a little heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time.
Without working the dough too much, squish and knead the dough in the bowl until it forms a rough ball.
Shape the dough:
On a lightly floured work surface, turn out the dough. Cut it in half using a sharp chef’s knife or bench scraper. Use your hands to form each half into flat rounds that are 6 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick.
Transfer the rounds to the baking sheet. With the knife or bench scraper, cut each circle into 6 wedges. Separate the wedges on the baking sheet so they are at least 1 inch apart.
Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes.
Bake the scones:
Bake the scones for 20 to 22 minutes or until they are golden brown on top and the bottoms are browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Finish and serve:
Sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I recommend serving them right away! Of course, they’ll be wonderful a few hours later, but you’ll want to gobble them up warm.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||56%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||12%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|