If I was in any way on top of my game, these would have been posted Sunday with an ode to my mom. You know, kind of how every food blogger ever does it. But I am most definitely not, so you get them on Wednesday with assurances that my mom is awesome (hi Mom!).
I had not made scones in an unforgivably long time. For those unfamiliar with scones, they really do taste best out of the oven and shortly thereafter, and lose much of their appeal after a day. However, scones freeze beautifully, so you can make a batch and then bake as needed. But since I lack a large enough stomach to eat 8 scones in a day as well as freezer space, scones were on my “delicious but impractical” list, even though as baked goods go they’re easy to make.
These scones play with the classic cherry and almond pairing, with dried tart cherries and sliced almonds and almond extract. Curious as to why almonds and cherries are so often paired? Both grow on members of the family Prunus. If you ever pit cherries, you might notice that the pits smell like almonds. Apparently they taste like them too, but I don’t recommend trying that at home.
These scones, adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, were as scones should be, buttery and flaky. The use of both vanilla and almond extracts added depth, and you can really taste the lemon zest, which plays off the cherries and adds a nice punch of flavor. When I baked them, I thought they were far too large, but then I polished one off almost without thinking about it, only to wonder if I could excuse a second. I think that says success.
cherry almond scones
Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
Notes: A few tips about scones and similar pastries: you want the butter as cold as possible. I often toss it in the freezer for a few minutes after cutting it into pieces. Cutting the butter into flour is kind of obscure terminology, but if you lack a pastry blender the easiest way to get results is to (wash your hands) and use your fingers.
As for dried tart cherries, the only place I find them reliably is Trader Joe’s. If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
2 1/2 cups (13 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk (plus some extra if needed)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
About 1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and next four ingredients (through baking soda). Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your (clean!) fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the cherries and almonds.
Gradually pour in the buttermilk and add the extracts, stirring with a rubber spatula until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough lightly until the dough is smooth and the buttermilk is evenly mixed in. If it seems dry or won’t come together, add a tablespoon of buttermilk and continue. Pat the dough into a circle about an inch thick. Use a floured knife or pizza cutter to divide the dough into eight wedges.
Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush with the heavy cream and sprinkle healthily with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake another 12-15 minutes, until the scones are golden brown and cooked through. Transfer scones to awhile back, and serve as soon as they won’t burn anyone!