Saturday, January 9, 2016

fresh cranberry, ginger and vanilla bean scones

Happy new year, friends! Also, happy end of college-app-season to me!! So yes, sorry for the lack of posts, but I was crazy busy writing essay after essay over the holidays. Though applications did get very tedious and sometimes made me want to cry and eat buttery foods, I've definitely come out of them with a greater understanding of myself and my future. Writing a whole portfolio of essays essentially all on different angles of you really forces you to get creative with how you look at yourself. Again, though, I cannot stress enough how happy I am to be DONE!

I baked these incredible scones ages ago, I think during the week of Thanksgiving, for a bake sale fundraiser for Action Against Hunger. Because the dough is so sticky, my first attempt at cutting out scones didn't go so well–as it turns out, these are much better as drop scones, especially since the minimal handling leads to wonderful tenderness. Sadly, I only have pictures of the cut-out scones but do not be fooled by their plain exterior! These are incredible–golden-crusted outside, pillowy and tender insides speckled with vanilla bean. The cranberries are wonderfully tart and juicy, complemented perfectly with the warmth of freshly grated ginger. Barely sweet, these are the perfect breakfast or tea accompaniment on a rainy day, which by the way we have been having a ton of lately. 

Since scones taste 1,000 times better fresh out of the oven, I recommend freezing the extras–simply shape them all on a pan, stick the pan in the freezer, and peel off and stick them in a freezer bag when frozen solid. Then, whenever you are feeling like warm, fluffy scone heaven (while writing essays, for example) just preheat the oven as usual, to the same temperature, and bake for a few extra minutes.

Fresh Cranberry, Ginger and Vanilla Bean Scones
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: This recipe makes an insane amount since it was scaled for the bake sale, so feel free to cut it in half. I believe it made something like 30 large scones.

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped roughly (I used my food processor)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 hours before making recipe, steep vanilla bean in cream. Warm the cream slightly, slice bean lengthwise (don't cut deep enough that you cut the bean in half) and use the tip of a knife to scrape out the black seeds. Dip the knife in the cream and repeat until you've gotten most of the seeds out. Then, unless you plan on using the pod for another purpose, place the whole thing into the cream and swirl it around. Place the cream, with the pod still inside, into the fridge and chill for 2 hours. This process will ensure that you get the most flavor out of your bean.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil or parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, butter, brown and granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse for short intervals until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the largest bits of butter are no larger than a pea. 

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and yolks. Add the ginger and vanilla (if not using bean). Pour in the cream, leaving the pod behind and using a spoon to get out any vanilla specks that have accumulated at the bottom of your container. Whisk the entire mixture together.

Add the butter mixture to the wet ingredients and use a spatula to stir and fold gently until combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom to make sure there are no dry pockets hiding down there. 

Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to place approximately 2-3 tablespoon sized scoops onto your baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between scoops. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are golden. Enjoy!

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