Cranberry and orange is a classic combination for the holidays, and these scones make a scrumptious treat. This recipe makes the fluffiest scones you will ever have! I think scones need to be light and fluffy, and these deliver!
Why You Should Make This Recipe
I am not a fan of dense or crunchy scones. Some scone recipes are very heavy, which means it gets hard to eat even one whole scone. There's a reason that traditional British scones are served in halves with jam and cream - it's needed to cut through the heaviness!
These tart cranberry orange scones, however, are unlike your normal firm, dense scone. They're as fluffy as can be and are infused with light orange zest and rich cranberry.
The cranberries mixed throughout have a tart flavor, and the orange zest adds a light citrus element, both of which cut through the (usually heavy) scone batter.
Instead of rolling the scones, we are lightly mixing and adding them as dollops of dough to the baking sheet. This keeps them light and fluffy.
fresh cranberries - you can also use dried cranberries in this recipe, but to keep the recipe tart, as intended, make sure your dried cranberries do not have any added sugar.
heavy cream - the heavy cream reacts with the acid of the oranges and curdles to create butter and buttermilk. If you do not want to make the butter from scratch, you can purchase buttermilk and butter, instead. However, you will not get the orange and honey flavor infused into it as you would with this recipe.
turbinado sugar - has a slightly caramel flavor that I find lovely, especially in this recipe. You can also substitute with raw cane sugar or granulated sugar if you cannot find it.
Orange Honey Butter Recipe
A key part of this recipe is the incredible orange honey butter. You will need to make this first before progressing with your scones.
Add cream, the zest of 1 orange, honey, and pinch of salt to a food processor (photo 1). Blend for 4-5 minutes, until the liquid separates (photo 2). The solids in the mixture are the butter you will use to spread on the scones, and the liquid is the buttermilk you will use in the scone recipe.
Strain over a bowl to separate the two, and set the butter aside (photos 1 & 2 below). If you have a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, you can use it to help to squeeze the butter and separate it completely from the buttermilk out (photo 3).
Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Put the cranberries on a baking tray, and roast them for 20 minutes (photo 1). When baked, toss the cranberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar and set aside for later (photo 2).
You may wish to use dried cranberries instead of fresh cranberries. You will need 1 and ½ cups of dried cranberries to replace the freshly roasted cranberries in this recipe.
Now for the scone dough. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, zest of the second orange, salt, and the cold cubes of butter to a food processor (photo 1 below). Pulse the mixture until it is the texture of breadcrumbs.
Add the pulsed mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup buttermilk, and mix to combine the ingredients (photos 2 & 3). You can add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. You may not need more, just see how your dough feels as you stir.
Next, add the roasted cranberries (photo 4). Gently fold them in with a spoon or spatula (photo 5). The dough should not be a liquid or tight mixture (photo 6).
You don't need to rest your scone dough before transferring to a baking sheet. Other recipes may call for resting, but with this recipe the dough is ready to cook as soon as the cranberries are combined. If you're not ready to bake just yet, your scone dough can be stored in the refrigerator overnight and baked the next day. Perfect if you're looking to save time and make ahead!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or similar (I'm using a silicone baking mat). With a pastry brush, brush a small amount of buttermilk in the 6 spots where you will put the scones. This will keep them from sticking during baking.
Mould your dough into 6 evenly sized scones. Try not over-handle the mixture while doing this. When placed on your sheet, brush the tops of each dough form with some more buttermilk.
Bake the scones for 17-20 minutes. Once baked, place on a wire cooling rack. Once cooled enough, serve the cranberry orange scones immediately with your delicious orange honey butter!
If you do want to freeze the scones for later, you can! Let the scones cool completely before freezing, and place them in an airtight container for maximum freshness. To defrost for serving, let your scones thaw to room temperature and then pop them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Cranberry Scone FAQs
Yes, but to maintain the tartness of this recipe, use unsweetened cranberries. In this recipe, you will need 1 cup of dried cranberries. Soak them in liquid for 10 minutes before baking so they plump up.
We are using both baking powder and baking soda. Make sure both are within the expiration dates. Also, do not overwork the dough. Mix until they just barely come together.
Yes, fresh cranberries need to be cooked before using, either on the stovetop or in the oven.
Yes! They are delicious chopped or pulsed in a food processor and used in relishes, smoothies, or salad dressings.
I love using cranberries when they are in season, and here are my favorite ways:
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Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Honey Butter
Orange Honey Butter:
- Add the cream, zest of 1 orange, honey, and pinch of salt to a food processor. Run for 4-5 minutes, until the liquid separates. The solids are the butter you will use to spread on the scones, and the liquid is the buttermilk you will use in the scones.
- Strain over a bowl.
Cranberry Orange Scones:
- Preheat to 350F. Put the cranberries on a baking tray. Roast 20 minutes. Toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, zest of the other orange, salt, and cold cubes of butter to a food processor. Pulse until it is the texture of breadcrumbs.
- Add the entire mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup buttermilk. Mix to combine. Add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. You may not need more. Add the cranberries. Gently fold together. It will not be a liquidy or tight mixture.
- Line a baking sheet. With a pastry brush, brush a small amount of buttermilk in the 6 spots you will put the scones. This will keep them from sticking.
- Do not over-handle the mixture. Gently mold into 6 scones. Place on your sheet pan. Brush the tops of each scone with more buttermilk.
- Bake 17-20 minutes.
- Let cook on a wire rack.
- Serve immediately!
This post was originally published in January of 2018, but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips October of 2020.