The warm weather is over for good now, I fear. The wind's kicked up, the gray blown in, and the last visitors trickled away over the bridge last night.
It's always strange, this shift, but comforting, too. The start of a new season—one with cozy fires and shorter daylight but with more hours to laze—means the start of another term, too. It's baking season—time to warm bread over the pilot, brown biscuits on cookie trays, and bake the warm winter squashes into puddings and pies.
I kicked it off Sunday morning with a scone recipe. Country cherry honey scones, they were called, found tucked inside the pages of Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More. My mother and father had gotten me the book for my birthday, but between April and August there'd been little time to explore. Early Sunday morning, as the wind bore down, I settled onto a kitchen chair to find something warming to make.
The scones caught my eye immediately. There were a few substitutions to be made: they called for dried cherries and orange zest, sparkling sugar and half-and-half, but I was fairly sure we could make do without. I dug into the cupboard for a jar of dried cranberries, grated the rind from a lemon, and began mixing a batter. In went flour and honey, baking powder and butter, one large egg and a dash of whole milk.
I shaped the dough into a round, cut it into careful pinwheel slices, and set the triangles in on a cookie sheet to bake. Brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar, they emerged golden and shining, just in time for the table. One bite in, I was already hooked.
COUNTRY CRANBERRY HONEY SCONES
(adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More by Carole Walter)
Makes 12 scones
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 and 1/2 cups white flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest. Cut in 1 stick butter with a pastry cutter. Toss in 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
In a separate bowl, mix together 1 large egg, 1/4 cup honey, and 1/2 cup whole milk. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. With floured hands, gently knead the dough several times. Put onto floured surface, divide in two, and pat each ball into a 1/2 inch thick disk. Cut each into 6 wedges and place scones on a well-greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash (made from 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon water whisked together) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.