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Buttermilk Scones with Dried Cherries

I like a good scone. Unfortunately, a good scone outside of the kitchen seems to be rather difficult to come by these days. I know this is not true for many people for two reasons: you might have a particular bakery you frequent that makes nice ones or you have different scone standards than I do. Let me say that having one bakery that does scones well is a great thing, but it does not really increase the availibility of scones to the rest of us.

As to scone standards, I think that they are heavily influnenced by chains that do a heavy business in them. There isn’t anything wrong with that. To be fair, some of their scones can have a good flavor (often from the glaze one the scone), but to my mind they are too dry and bready to be really good. My favorite scones are made by The Cheese Board in Berkeley, CA. If you live anywhere in the bay area and have never been, shame on you. Make sure to have their pizza, as well!
For now, I guess I’ll stick to homemade.

Using buttermilk instead of cream in this recipe give the scones a richness without some of the fat. They are buttery and the cherries go well with the tang of buttermilk. You may need a bit less liquid if it is very humid where you live.

Buttermilk Scones
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter, cold and cut into small pieces
5 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup dried cherries, chopped if you like smaller pieces
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. Rub butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles very coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla, adding the dried cherries as the dough starts to come together. The dough should be sticky but not runny.
Form dough into a disc 1 inch thick and place on your baking sheet. Cut the dough disk into 4-6 wedges using a knife or a pizza cutter. Brush with 1 tbsp buttermilk and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar. You may separate the scones or bake them together and break them apart after they’re baked (I like to separate them).
Bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, until lightly browned.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 small scones

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  • nosheteria
    August 28, 2005

    I love The Cheeseboard! I’m making their sourdough starter as I write this. I only hope it turns out half as good as the bread from the shop.

  • Cathy
    August 28, 2005

    I love scones too, but haven’t indulged in quite a while. I worry about all that fat in a scone, so this recipe sounds perfect!

  • Skrat
    August 28, 2005

    Hi Nic, i spent an entire weekend trying to make scones as good as the ones I had in Hunter Valley in New South Wales and Harndoff in Adelaide…….but i was not happy with them at all. It was truly disappointing, as the scones I had in Australia were the best in texture and just the right level of moisture, top it with beautifully whipped cream and fresh made jam….i’m in heaven! I shall give yours a try too! Thanks for sharing.

  • Nic
    August 28, 2005

    Nosheteria – I’d be worried if anyone in Berkeley had never managed to make it over to the Cheeseboard! I hope the starter works out.

    Cathy – I definately feel better about these than many scone recipes (as delightful as the incredibly fattening ones are…).

    Skrat – It is so hard to recreate good scones. Sometimes I think that the places who get it right must have some secret ingredient. Some of the best scones I’ve had were in Aus., though. It’s a tough standard!

  • Ana
    August 28, 2005

    Up to now I have not been that fond of scones. Too floury I guess. Besides, I like them with clotted cream and strawberry jam and cannot find the clotted cream over here. It is just not the same with butter, no matter how good the butter is.

    By the way, do you know how to make clotted cream? Some restaurants use whipped cream but it is not the same thing. The clotted cream I remeber from South Africa where we sometimes went on holidays, was thick and dense.

  • Randi
    August 28, 2005

    im definatly going to make these!! I have lots of homeade jam to serve with them.

  • Rainey
    August 28, 2005

    I have never been good a scones or biscuits and so I haven’t made them in a long time. The comments about Australian scones being better than American ones makes me wonder if the difference is in the quality of the flour. I know there’s different protein content in European flour. Could be some other fundamental difference between ours and the countries in the South Pacific too.

    I wonder if the good folks at King Arthur could shed some light on that….

  • Nic
    August 28, 2005

    Ana – Mm… clotted cream. You need raw milk to make it. Do you have a dairy nearby?

    Randi – They’re great with jam.

    Rainey – Perhaps. I think that better scones come from the British tradition of having scones. We’ve been removed from the UK far longer than Australia has. Before Starbucks started selling them, I’m sure there are lots of people who had never had a scone before. If you’ve never had one, it’s hard to tell a decent one from a great one.

  • Rainey
    August 28, 2005

    I have never had a British scone or an Aussie one. The only scones I’ve ever had that were memorable were the ones that were served when I was at summer camp some 45 years or so ago. I had never even heard of a “scone” before that. I’ve never forgotten them since.

    I have NO idea how authentic or inauthentic they were. I only remember that they were wonderful! …even prepared in an (…ahem…) rustic kitchen for 100 or so snotty, unsophisticated, undemanding kids.

    These things were delicous. They tasted almost creamy without any spread. And they set a standard I’ve never been able to approximate. So I gave up years ago to let the memory remain unassailable. ;>

  • Nic
    August 29, 2005

    I think I have a lot of food memories like that from when I was a kid. I have mostly given up trying to actually recreate things, though. It’s almost never the same….

  • dksbook
    August 29, 2005

    When my Gran visited (usually for a month twice a year), I had hot scones when I got home from school every day, and tea with sugar and milk. Gran had two recipes – one rather like yours, Nic, and one for special occasions with about twice the butter and cream instead of milk. She used one egg, 3 T sugar, and a bit of vanilla. She would mix the milk and egg (or cream and egg), reserving a bit of it which she used to glaze the tops. Hers (and mine, for I use her recipes) were always tender, because the dough was very gently handled, and rather “wet”, and baked in a hot oven for less time than most recipes call for.

    I make two round pats of equal size, about 5″, then cut each into 4, placing them nearly together on the sheet. They rise about 3-4 times the unbaked height.

    My spouse, the old West Texas cowboy, just loves scones in the early AM with his coffee – but only homemade scones. He has not found a bakery scone that doesn’t disappoint him. I tell him it’s the love I put in them.

  • Anna
    September 1, 2005

    this is the first time i’ve posted, but i’ve been reading for a while.

    i made these scones today and they were wonderful. so quick and easy and delightful. thank you so much. yummers.

  • Nic
    September 1, 2005

    dksbook – Love makes everything taste better!

    Anna – Welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed these.

  • Clare Eats
    September 2, 2005

    Mmmm Scones
    Ones from a shop are never as good as the ones straight out of the oven 🙂

    (mmm whipped cream and jam 😉 )

  • Nic
    September 3, 2005

    Clare – Anything with cream and jam, really!

  • farmgirl
    September 6, 2005

    Hi Nic,
    Those scones look great. And I owe you a very belated thank you for the links to scone recipes you mailed me weeks and weeks ago. As a fellow sconehead, I thank you so much! : )

    P.S. I did a whole web search ages ago on making clotted cream and there are some notes I made kicking around here somewhere amidst the piles and piles of recipes. : ) I’ll let you know if I come across them. Or people might want to try the google thing and see what they come up with. (Supposedly you can make a decent clotted cream type thing without raw milk.) Well, that wasn’t very helpful, was it? : )

  • Claire Joy
    September 23, 2005

    Am new to blogging so just found your page. I tried these yesterday with sultana raisins instead of cherries and they got rave reviews. So today I substituted chrystallized ginger and we hit the jackpot. By tomorrow I’ll know the ingredients by heart. Thanks!

  • Nic
    September 23, 2005

    Welcome, Claire! I think ginger sounds like a great addition!

  • Jane
    July 18, 2008

    I happily stumbled upon your blog awhile ago, but this is my first venture at actually trying out a recipe (although I have several bookmarked for future use). I’ve been craving scones for weeks now, but I didn’t want anything too fatty or heavy. These were PERFECT! I substituted dried cranberries and almond extract for the cherries and vanilla (what I had on hand), and they taste and smell wonderful. Thanks for the great base recipe that I can continue to tweak with different flavor combinations!

  • Ella
    August 17, 2009

    Just found your blog today. I’m on maternity leave and on a baking kick right now. I went to Cal and frequented the Cheeseboard way more than I care to admit (my favorite is the brioche). I LOVED this recipe. I had blueberries that I needed to do something with so I substituted them for the dried cherries. Perfect afternoon treat while the baby naps. Thanks!

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