These Cranberry Orange Scones are crumbly and dense with a soft inside filled with orange flavor and bursting with fresh cranberries. Cover them in an orange glaze or heat them up for a delicious treat.
Cranberry Orange Scones
The rustic and buttery flavor of these slightly sweet and dense scones is ultimately indulgent. If you’re hosting a holiday brunch or book club, serving these cranberry orange scones will be one of the highlights of your gathering.
For an even more decadent treat, you can cover the scones in an orange glaze. By using fresh cranberries and freshly grated orange zest these scones are bursting with flavor.
From cranberry apple pie to cranberry brie pull-apart bread I love fresh cranberries! I’ve worked hard to perfect this recipe, making these scones over and over and over again until I landed the perfect recipe. Below are some tips and recommendations for making these scones perfect every time.
Ingredients in Cranberry Orange Scones
One of the keys to landing the perfect scone, in any scone recipe, is to keep all (even the dry ingredients) as cold as possible. You may even consider placing the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes at a time as you prepare it. By keeping the ingredients cold, especially the butter, you’ll end up with a dense yet flaky scone that just crumbles with flavor in each bite.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Baking Powder
- Orange Zest
- Heavy Cream
- Fresh Cranberries
How to Make Cranberry Orange Scones
- Mix the Dry Ingredients: whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt together.
- Work in the Butter: Grate the butter using a cheese grater and then using a pastry cutter or 2 forks cut the butter into the flour mixture.
- Combine the Wet Ingredients: In a medium bowl mix the egg, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and orange extract. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix. Knead together using your hands until the dough is sticky. Carefully fold in the cranberries.
- Shape the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, roll it into a ball, and then press it flat until it’s about 2 inches in height. Cut the dough into 8 slices and place on a rimless baking sheet.
- Coat Scones: Brush the tops of each scone with heavy cream and then sprinkle the coarse sugar on top.
- Bake: Bake the scones at 425ºF for 12 to 15 minutes.
Why Grating the Butter is Best
The method I use for incorporating the butter into these cranberry orange scones is to first flash-freeze the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then I use a grater to grate the butter on one of the smaller holes. After all the butter is grated then I use a pastry cutter to quickly cut the butter into the recipe. I’ve made these scones many times and this seems to work the best to achieve the perfectly dense and flaky scones you see in the pictures.
Tips for Making the Best Scones
- I can’t stress the importance of measuring your four using the spoon and level method. Scooping out your flour using the measuring cup will cause you to end up with too much flour, which will ruin the scones. To do this use a spoon to scoop out the flour instead and dump it into your measuring cup. Then use a butter knife to level off the excess.
- I recommend using a grater to grate the butter on one of the smaller holes. It’s quick and gets the better grated to small pieces perfect for mixing together evenly.
- Place the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes before you plan on grating it or cutting it into the dough. This gets the butter extra cold. If the butter is too soft or close to room temperature it won’t crumble into the dough like it’s supposed to.
- Keep all your wet ingredients SUPER cold, which will make your scones extra flaky.
Can I use frozen or dried cranberries?
Yes, you can easily swap fresh cranberries for frozen and you don’t have to thaw them either. In fact, don’t thaw them. Just mix them right into the dough like you would the fresh cranberries. Alternatively, you can also use dried cranberries in this recipe, however, I highly recommend using fresh if they’re in season. The dried cranberries still taste great, but the fresh bursting flavor of the cranberries just isn’t the same.
Do I need to add an egg or can I leave it out?
Adding the egg to your scone batter is a matter of personal preference on how you like your scones. The egg creates a denser and richer texture, but if you prefer a crumbly scone then you can easily leave it out.
Can I make the dough in advance?
Yes, the dough can be made up to 3 days before you plan on baking the scones. Prepare the dough as directed in the recipe and then wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator until you plan on baking it. When you’re ready to bake follow the recipe for shaping the dough into a disc and slicing it into triangle shapes.
Can I freeze the dough?
Yes, this dough freezes very well. In order to freeze your scones just after slicing the dough into triangles wrap each one individually in parchment paper and place in a plastic bag to keep in the freezer. The unbaked scones will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Can the baking powder be substituted for baking soda?
No, it can’t. The baking powder ensures these scones will puff up super high when baking and substituted baking soda will not have the same result.
Can I use milk instead of heavy cream?
Unfortunately, no this recipe will not work the same if you don’t use heavy cream. You can still use milk, however, the dough will be softer and the scones will tend to spread when baked. Though they will still be tasty they won’t have that dense sturdy texture.
In a pinch, you can heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 3/4 cup of whole milk until the butter has melted completely and is mixed into the milk. Chill the milk in the fridge before stirring it into your dough, but this mixture can replace heavy cream.
The fats in this recipe are what make it and so you need the fat in heavy cream to achieve that perfect texture that’s so important to scones.
Equipment for Making the Best Cranberry Orange Scones
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour spooned and leveled
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 tablespoon Orange Zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Butter super cold
- 1 large Egg
- 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Orange Extract optional
- 1½ cups Fresh Cranberries
- 1 tablespoon Coarse Sugar
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
- 1 teaspoon Orange Zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Orange Extract
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt together until combined.
- Grate the butter using a cheese grater on one of the smaller hole sides and then using a pastry cutter or 2 forks cut the butter into the flour mixture. The mixture should resemble a coarse meal.
- In a medium bowl mix the egg, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and orange extract. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix. Knead together using your hands until the dough is sticky. Don't worry if it looks and feels sticky. Carefully use your hands to mix in the cranberries.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, roll it into a ball, and then press it flat until it's about 2 inches in height. Using a butter knife cut the dough into 8 slices and place 1-inch apart on a rimless baking sheet.
- Brush the tops of each scone with heavy cream and then sprinkle the coarse sugar on top.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops of the scone have turned a golden brown.
- In a small bowl whisk all the orange glaze ingredients together until smooth. If the glaze is too thick then you can add more heavy cream to dilute it 1 teaspoon at a time. The glaze will melt once spread on top of the hot scones.