Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Vanilla Bean Cranberry Scones

With the weather suddenly deciding to be winter, I've been dreaming in bright reds and whites, obviously with a baked goods angle. Scones struck me as a good cold weather go-to and I loved the idea of a bright white pastry, with sparkly sugar, and pops of red, so I decided to make a vanilla, cranberry version, based loosely on this recipe from Mountain Mama Cooks.

Wash & coat fresh cranberries in a thin layer of flour so they won't sink in the batter.
First off, I realized that any vanilla pastry worth its salt includes an actual vanilla bean (a first for me, if you can believe it), so there was that to conquer. I also realized as the scones were cooling, that I'm actually not that fond of cranberries - I am the butt of a family joke about the time I baked a pineapple-upside down cake, just to see what it would look like. I had no intention of eating it. Similarly, I thought this would be pretty and didn't look back. 

My roommate, who had the presence of mind to ask if the issue was my dislike of cranberries, loved the freshly baked scones. I wasn't satisfied, so I pulled up this handy recipe for its vanilla bean glaze, coated the scones and voila, the heavens opened.

Use the bean pod as a flavor enhancer in fresh sugar
Bits and pieces of 2 recipes and a vanilla bean tutorial later, I am happy to say that these are a hit with my roommates and colleagues at work. They're surprisingly light and fluffy, with a warm, floral note from the vanilla bean perfectly setting off the tartness of the cranberries, all balanced by the yummy glaze.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter and cut in until it becomes course, with pea-sized bits of butter (you can do this with a food processor, two knives - drawn across each other in a scissoring fashion, or a pastry mixer, which is my go-to). Once done, turn your attention to the wet ingredients, mixing together the egg, heavy whipping cream, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl, combining the wet and dry until it starts to stick to itself (like the image above). Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a thoroughly combined dough. This is where you want to gently fold in the cranberries (if a few pop, it's ok). *First, rinse the berries and coat with a thin layer of flour; this helps them not sink to the bottom of the batter and is a general rule for whenever you bake with them.

Separate the dough into two rounds and roll out to between 1/2 and 1/4 of an inch. Using a pastry scraper, cut the rounds into pie slices, with eight slices per round. From here, you can either stop and have full-size scones or cut the eight triangles in half, creating sixteen mini-scones. I opted for mini-scones, which requires a bit of reshaping after you cut the dough but they turned out beautifully just so. Add cranberries to any triangles that seem a bit bare, place on a parchment paper lined baking tray (they won't spread out much so you can place them within 1/2 inch of each other), brush with a beaten egg, and top with course sugar. Bake for 17 minutes or until the tops are golden.

While the scones are baking, whip up the vanilla bean glaze by combining half a vanilla bean pod of seeds, confectioners sugar, and either milk or the rest of your heavy whipping cream. The glaze should be thicker but easily drip off a spoon to cover the scones.

Once baked, remove scones from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When they are completely cooled, drizzle with the glaze and let sit for a few hours until the glaze is set.


- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 7 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c cold, unsalted butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c + 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 c cranberries, washed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 1/2 c confectioners sugar
- 2-3 tbsp milk or heavy whipping cream


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