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Ginger Cranberry Scones


Having less choice is a good thing.

When we have friends or family spend the night, I don't deliberate about what to make for breakfast. If we don't send someone on a donut run (if you lived near Lafeen's, you would too), I am predictable. Broiled eggs and some kind of scone, biscuit, or muffin. And more predictably than that, some version of these scones.

Isn't there so much pressure to be novel all the time? Pinterest, Rachel Ray's infinite hamburger combinations, piles and piles of new cookbooks being published every day. Do you want to know my little secret? I don't buy cookbooks! I love to browse at the bookstore and ones with beautiful photos certainly inspire me. And I will happily receive them as gifts. But I only own about 30 cookbooks. More than being frugal or trying to save space, the main reason I don't add to my collection is because all those possibilities overwhelm me. When it comes to making family dinners or something tried and true when we have company, those beautiful cookbooks don't seem to help me much.

I love to quote Christopher Kimball who says that most of us don't need more recipes. We just need to perfect a handful of things that we're good at. After that, it's easier to get inspired by novel things. For me, this repertoire is a few soups I can make in my sleep (minestrone, potato leek, lentil, mulligatawny), anything that can be baked all together on a big sheet pan (sausages with peppers, salmon with bok choy, chicken thighs with practically anything), a few pasta basics (puttanesca, tomato cream sauce with lots of sauteed veggies melting into the sauce), frittatas, and some sweets--galettes, pies, scones, biscuits. Sometimes (or most the time?), much as I love food, I don't really have the energy to THINK about being novel, let alone actually doing it. 

I love these scones, based on a recipe from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake, for many reasons. They can be made in the food processor. They're full of oats. The dough is soft but still easy to work with, and they emerge moist and sturdy at the same time. Three cheers for predictability!

Ginger Cranberry Scones
So many things can be subbed out for the ginger and dried cranberry. Add raisins. Or no dried fruit. Or take the sugar out and add shredded cheddar and dried dill instead. I often serve them that way with soup. Or make your own chai spice mixture and use dried apricots and figs.

1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. oats
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cube unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. candied ginger, finely chopped 

For topping:
1/4 c. buttermilk
cinnamon sugar mixture 

Preheat oven to 400.

In a food processor, combine first 8 dry ingredients and pulse a couple times to mix.

Add butter and pulse about 10 times until butter is in pea-sized lumps. Add buttermilk, cranberries, and ginger and pulse just until dough holds together, about 5 or 6 times.

Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead a couple times, then divide the dough into two equal balls. Using your hands, flatten each round until it's about 1" thick and cut each round into 6 equal wedges for a total of 12 triangular scones. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with buttermilk and spinkle a generous amount of cinnamon sugar over each. Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully after 10 minutes so they don't get too crunchy on the outside. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving plain or with butter.

Reader Comments (6)

My Scottish-born maternal grandmother, whose birthday it was today, would be so proud of you and this recipe and variations!!!! She had perfected scones, as well as cornbread in several forms, and she could add 6 people to her dinner table without a blink. What a lovely gift, and a perfect reminder that it's the simple things we remember and appreciate!
November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLynn M
I'm guessing 1 cube of butter = 1 stick = 1/2 cup = 4 oz. = 8 T. ?
Love scones--plan to try these soon!
November 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJune
I was just musing about leftovers and wondering why they were so sadly neglected and then I went online and found your site! Congratulations - its looks great and reads wonderfully. The only problem is that I cant work out how to subscribe. Am I missing something? Thanks, Helen.
November 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Miles
yes to limiting possibilities (and thus, opening up so many more). yes to oats in scones. actually, yes to everything in these scones. i doubt a week will pass before some version of these will sidle up to our table.

happy november to you, sara!

November 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermolly
I just love your thoughts Sarah. I have felt the very same way about cookbooks. When Moses bought me the Julia Child's book Art of French Cooking I was so overwhelmed by it. Grateful for the gift but still overwhelmed by the task of trying to make anything remotely close to what Julia made. I have been determined with the Beef Bourginae recipe and have attempted to make it at least 4 times now, and it keeps getting better. Thank you for all the good reminders of what's really important.
November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoël
I am really with you about the cookbooks, Sarah. I have about enough for the rest of my life, now. I also find that so much cooking inspiration gets pushed out at me through my iPad that I hardly have time to go looking for more ideas. I have thought lately that the sign of a mature cook is one who begins with ingredients, even one, and can select a cooking method from her repertoire that produces the food she imagines. As for sticking with some things that work well, that's exactly what our favorite restaurants do.
November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Bredy

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