Sunday (night) scones

I know that there are people, even people who have kids as young and energetic as mine, who somehow manage leisurely Sunday mornings, complete with tea sipping and paper reading. Around here, though, it never quite goes that way – or, rather, those mornings when I do sit and read the paper, marveling at the luxury of peace and quiet, blessing my good fortune, I eventually look up from the Book Review or Sunday Styles to realize that Jacob has emptied an entire container of dried hot pepper flakes into Kyle’s closet and Lucas is swimming in a toilet. You think I’m kidding.

But Sunday evenings – well, evenings are my time! Or rather, Kyle’s and my time, but luckily we have similar ideas about how to spend it. High on the list are show-watching, (30 Rock, Friday Night Lights (tears when it ended!), The Daily Show, and disturbing food documentaries streamed on Netflix), life-planning (also known as stressing about things, including but not limited to: plans for retirement, international relocation, the never ending wars, and disturbing food documentaries streamed on Netflix), and reading.

On Sunday nights, I am especially drawn to the big fat New York Times. Usually it is still in its dirty blue bag (that guy is amazing – he somehow gets it over the gate, around the hedges, and right smack into the muddy gravel path, every time!). Sometimes it is shredded all over the family room courtesy of Lucas. I salvage my favorite pieces (books! styles! travel! review! I try to skim the front page headlines to feel like a grown up …). On the best Sunday nights, I indulge in this little luxury curled up on the big brown couch, Kyle nearby and a fire in the wood stove. On the very best ones, I add something not too sweet but definitely indulgent for munching … something like a Whole Wheat Cream Scone spiked with cranberries and orange zest. Yes, something just precisely like that sounds perfect right now. Ready in just twenty minutes you say? Well. Don’t mind if I do.

Whole Wheat Cream Scones with cranberries and orange zest
This cream scone recipe was one of the very few recipes that my mom made regularly – I am not sure where she got it, but I know why she liked it: it is so easy you can make it in your sleep. No butter to cut, just one bowl, and a reasonably delicious and tender outcome, with just fifteen minutes bake time. It is good plain, but better with orange and cranberry. It can really be made with any manner of add-ins – dried fruits, citrus zests, spices, chocolate, you name it. It’s pretty forgiving and flexible. I have used half whole wheat/half white flours, or 100% whole wheat, and find that using at least 1/3 cup all purpose flour gives a more traditionally scone-like result, but the 100% whole wheat version is good too if you like a dense and wheaty scone-biscuit thing. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup additional flour (all purpose or whole wheat – see head note)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, sifted or at least lumps squished
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant cup dried cranberries (I like to use the dried whole berries sweetened with fruit juice, but you could also use the ‘craisin’ type – they are just sweeter and smaller – you’d probably use more like 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whipping cream (I find that if I use all whole wheat flour, I need to add a little more cream to get the dough to the right consistency for shaping and cutting; add 1 1/4 cups, then work in an additional few drops as needed to get it where you need it to be)

1-2 tablespoons melted butter for the tops, plus sugar, chopped nuts, fruit zest, or whatever you’d like for sprinkling over the tops. Tonight I used lemon verbena sugar.

Preheat to 425 F.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cranberries and zest. (I zest the orange right in to the bowl with my microplane to save on bowls – one medium-large orange is about perfect).

Add the cream, and mix gently until a dough forms. At this point, I find it easier to use my hands. Make the dough into a ball, then transfer to a cutting board and flatten it into a disc, about half an inch thick and relatively round. Cut it into wedges.

(I extra-love this not-that-great-picture because you can see, on the Peets cups where the lemon cucumbers are sprouting, J's "labeling" of the plants :)

Arrange the wedges on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush each scone with a little melted butter, and then sprinkle them with your choice of sugar, zest, nuts, or some combination.

Bake for about fifteen minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and toasty looking. Cool on a rack.

Enjoy one, still warm, while you read the Sunday paper. Then, once they’ve cooled, you can freeze the rest, for future Sundays.

[Or, wrap them in plastic and serve them for breakfast on Monday, sliced and toasted. It makes for an easy breakfast when you are rushing around cleaning hot pepper flakes out of your husband’s work shoes].

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