This recipe comes from my friend, Cheryl, who has been making these scones for years much to the delight of her coworkers. Which is how I was lucky enough to sample these. Cheryl and I worked together at an integrative medical office and she would often surprise us with these tender, flaky, and buttery scones. She came by the recipe from family friends who owned a tea room, and for years the recipe was *top secret* and not something that Cheryl felt comfortable passing along. One bite of these and you will understand why! They are full of vibrant lemon flavor and the tang of cranberry, well worth the two years I had to wait before finally getting this recipe. Too often scones can be dry, but not these babies, which I credit to the combination of powdered buttermilk and the super delicious glaze that you brush on while they are still warm from the oven.
When I made these for the tea room at our church this past December they were such a hit that I knew it was the perfect recipe to share as I bring my blog back to my favorite bakers! They would be perfect for a Valentines Day treat (those cranberries are the perfect pop of red) but you will not want to limit yourself to this one holiday after you make them. They come together pretty quickly and the lemon cranberry combo is great for year round enjoyment!
Start by getting all your ingredients out and ready (except the butter, leave that in the fridge until the last second) which includes grating the zest off at least two lemons. I love my Microplane for this task and always grate the rind onto a piece of wax paper so I can hold it over the bowl and tap every last bit of zest off of there. It has a tendency to stick to your hands, so tapping off the paper works best for me. You also need to be mindful that you only get the outermost layer of zest here. The white vascular layer beneath is called the pith and is very bitter, hence that term “pithy” from middle English meaning terse or forcible. (Ok, I know I am off topic here, but I married a man who reads grammar books for enjoyment and I guess I have a little of that in me, too!)
Pulse all the dry ingredients in a food processor for a few seconds, then add the lemon zest and butter and pulse 6-8 times for a few seconds at a time to cut the butter into the flour and evenly distribute the zest. The butter should all be in little pea size pieces when you are done. (If you don’t have a food processor you can use a pastry blender in a large mixing bowl.) Transfer it to a large mixing bowl, add the cranberries and toss briefly. Then add the water in three additions mixing with a rubber spatula to moisten the dry ingredients. If you have a lot of the flour mixture hanging out at the bottom of the bowl (as I did) you can add an additional tablespoon of water to help incorporate it into the rest of the dough.
Once the dough has come together spoon it out onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake in a 425° oven for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown. Like all cakes and muffins you want to be very careful you do not overbake them or you may end up with dry scones. But honestly, this is what sets this recipe apart from every other scone recipe I have tried, they are so tender and not dry at all. The glaze definitely helps, but Cheryl was very specific about the Saco Buttermilk blend. She has tried other buttermilk powders and it did not yield the same results. So while I may have altered her recipe slightly I was sure not to touch that and went straight for the Saco brand.
Make sure your oven is well preheated. This is another trick of the trade when it comes to baking, and I always heat my oven for a good half hour before that first pan of anything goes in. You can make the glaze while the scones are baking. This is where I really took some liberties with the recipe as the first time I made them I felt like it wasn’t enough glaze, so now I do one and a half times most of the ingredients. The exception there is vanilla which I doubled. If you have followed this blog in the past you know how strongly I feel about vanilla, and Nielsen Massey vanilla in particular so this should surprise no one. All of those changes are reflected in the recipe below, but I’m mentioning it here because if you feel it is too much glaze it is A-Ok to scale back a bit!
After the glaze is set transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing… if you have any left to store that is!
Lemon Cranberry Scones
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp Saco Buttermilk Blend
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, cold cut into small pieces
- 1 cup water room temperature
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk powder in food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to combine.
- Add lemon zest and butter to food processor. Pulse 6-8 times for 4-5 seconds, butter should be the size of small peas. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
- Add cranberries and toss to evenly distribute. Add water in thirds, stirring to moisten the dry ingredients. You can use an additional tablespoon of water if some of the flour mixture is not getting incorporated.
- Spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown, but be careful not to over bake.
- Brush glaze onto scones as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp half and half
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract I use Nielsen Massey
- Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly in medium bowl. Use pastry brush to glaze scones as soon as they come out of the oven.
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