The thing about breakfast is that it’s only good if someone else makes it, my husband complained recently. His complaint is more dramatic than it is honest, but I think it’s a reasonable one for a sleep-deprived father-of-three forever stuck on breakfast duty while I feed a baby. The morning meal in our house these days is generally loud and chaotic, a mad scramble to feed a bunch of hungry bellies. There’s a tight kernel of truth in what he said, however: breakfast does taste like a treat when it’s served to you.
Enter a basket of wintry cranberry orange scones. Warm from the oven, fragrant with citrus, tender and buttery—the scones are a breakfast luxury. But their real gift is their simplicity. They come together so easily you can make them for someone you love; you can make them ahead of time as a grace for a harried morning; you can make them for yourself, the ultimate treat. We all want to wake up to a sign that someone has thought about us, and what better one than a baked treat?
Cold house on a dark December morning. Cold butter straight from the freezer. Quick, zest the orange!—bright citrus perfumes the air. Shaggy dough, a few turns with floury hands, crinkle of parchment paper. Sip coffee, hot and strong, while the scones rise golden in the oven. You don’t need much to make someone’s morning. You just need to make them some scones.
Ingredients: Glazed Cranberry Orange Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
1/2 cup sugar
1 orange (for zest and juice)
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2–3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
(from whole orange)
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Measure sugar into a large bowl. Zest one whole orange into the bowl, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the sugar mixture and whisk.
3. Using a box grater, grate cold butter directly into the dry ingredients. Use your fingers to work the butter into slightly smaller pieces. Add cranberries and toss to combine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and milk. Use a fork to stir the liquid mixture into the flour until all the dry bits are incorporated, but the dough is still shaggy. Knead the dough a few times until it barely holds together, and then dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
5. Pat dough together to a 1-inch-thick disc. Cut like a pizza into 8 wedges, transfer to the prepared sheet, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. If you’d like to make the scones ahead, you can refrigerate them overnight until you’re ready to bake.
6. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden brown, 18–24 minutes. Let cool slightly.
7. Meanwhile, whisk fresh orange juice into confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl, one tablespoon at a time, until the glaze reaches your desired consistency. Drizzle over scones and serve. Keep scones covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Photography by Jivan Davé