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Weekend Warrior: Weekend Scones

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I've never attempted making scones. I think scones intimidated me because I didn't grow up eating them. But many mornings while I was on vacation in Ocracoke this past fall, I ate chocolate chip scones at the Ocracoke Coffee Company shop. I've been eager to try baking them myself and only recently attempted it. I feel like I have found THE recipe that I will go back to again and again in this cookbook: "Baking: 350 recipes and techniques, 1,500 photographs, one baking education" by James Peterson.

These scones are easy to make and left people at the office raving about them. Actually, they are so easy that you could whip them up on a week day morning and not have to wait for a weekend. Enjoy!

Scones

3 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups milk or heavy cream plus more as needed
1 cup dried cranberries, cherries or diced dried apricots, soaked for 30 minutes in just enough hot water to cover, drained

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, surgar, baking powder and salt. Arrange the butter on top so teh slices don't overlap and cut through the mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of peas. Add the milk and stir the mixture long enough to absorb the milk and any loose flour. If you still see loose flour, add another 2 tablespoons milk. Spriknle the cranberries over the mixture while sthirring so they are evenly distributed in the dough. Stir together the dough with a rubber spatula for about 1 minute. Don't overwork the dough. 

Dump the dough out onto a work surface and use your hands to gather it together in a mound, then flatten it into a disk. At this point, it may be necessary to knead it a little to get it to hold together in a loose shaggy mass. Roll it out into a 3/4-inch thick disk. Cut the disk into 8 wedges and put them in a baking sheet. 

Turn down the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the scones are pale brown. 

Makes 8 servings. 

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Scones

Try baking them on parchment paper for ease of clean up.  With dried cranberries you can add 1 tsp. or so finely grated orange zest.  Also, you can brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with large sugar crystals or demarra sugar, depending on your add-in.  Another nice touch, especially for slow morning people, is to do a simple glaze jacked with some espresso powder.  Try that one on plain, chocolate chip, or cinnamon scones.

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About the blogger

Andrea Weigl has been the food writer at The News & Observer since the summer of 2007. She has won a handful of awards from the Association of Food Journalists and the Society for Features Journalism. Her profile of chef Ashley Christensen titled "A Force of Nature" will be published in the sixth edition of "Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing." She is serving a three-year term on the James Beard Foundation book awards committee. Follow her on Twitter at @andreaweigl.
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