A cherry scone, with tablecloth embroidered by my British Aunt B.
♦ ♦ ♦
Welcome to the world, little Prince of Cambridge. At my house, we celebrated your arrival with cherry scones and a pot of Earl Grey tea. I happen to like scones for breakfast, which means getting up early to have them baked before a scone-loving husband with early office hours heads off to work. (Ahem. I don’t make them often.) How helpful that our 80-pound dog Kita roused me from a deep sleep at 5:00 a.m. today by throwing up loudly next to my side of the bed, twice. After cleaning the carpet, I had plenty of time to get these in the oven:
Cherry Scones, adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree, © 2008 by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., of Hoboken, NJ.
This scone recipe requires vigilance because the oven temperature is reduced 7 minutes into the baking time and the position of the pans is switched twice. The authors explain that these scones, made with heavy cream, spread like pancakes unless the outer crust is set by being started in a hot oven.** The extra care is well worth the effort; these are delicious (even if Last born picked out all of the dried fruit from her serving).
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
2 2/3 cups heavy cream
1 large egg for egg wash
Turbinado sugar to sprinkle over scone tops
Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. (I used my convection baking setting for this recipe with good results, but radiant heat will also work fine, especially with pan positions being switched during baking.) Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add the brown sugar, and whisk again until evenly mixed. Press out any stray lumps of sugar with your fingers, and whisk again. Stir in the dried cherries. Make a deep well in the center of the flour mixture, exposing the bottom of the bowl, and pour in the cream all at once. Stir with a fork and/or spatula just until the dough comes together, with no pockets of dry ingredients remaining.
Lightly flour a clean work surface, and scrape the dough onto it in two equal mounds. Coat your hands with flour, and lightly sprinkle more flour across the dough tops. Shape and flatten each mound of dough into disks about 1 1/2 inches high, making sure to keep the work surface floured so that the dough doesn’t stick. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut each disk in half, then cut each half into 4 wedges. (If you want larger scones, cut fewer pieces.)
Divide wedges among the 2 baking sheets, keeping about 2 inches of space between each scone.
Make an egg wash: Break the egg into a small bowl, then add about 1 teaspoon of water, and beat with a fork until combined. (If you have time, strain the egg wash through a small sieve to get rid of the chalazae. If not, never mind. See French Toast entry for explanation.) Brush the top of each scone with this mixture, and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Place the scone-filled baking sheets on the racks in positions described above, and bake for 7 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF. and switch the pans, top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 10 minutes, then switch the pans again. Continue to bake for 15 more minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and firm.
Remove to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, long enough to make a pot of Earl Grey tea. A scone eaten while still warm from the oven is a wonderful thing.
(**Eureka! So that’s why the cream-based scones I made to enjoy while watching Prince William marry Kate Middleton two years ago collapsed in the oven like pasty puddles. They tasted good but looked completely unpresentable.)