About a month ago, I bought a little package of the best dried cherries I've ever tasted in my life. (I purchased them on that same trip to Detroit's Eastern Market that I talked about in my hearty coconut bread post, remember?) Though I planned to use them all for baking, I wasn't able to resist putting a few of them on my breakfast cereal, and nibbling a couple now and then when the urge hit me. So enamored was I that I made my husband taste them, and he immediately concurred that they were exceptionally good (the word he actually used was "succulent," and he wasn't even joking).
Now, I like dried fruit, but I am not really a huge fan of its use in baked goods. Let's face it--dried fruits don't enhance a recipe in the same way fresh fruits do. They do their own thing, which is fine, but to appreciate them you simply have to be in the mood. These fine cherries put me in the mood so I used them today in cream scones. They are so unlike any other dried cherries/berries I've ever tried, that I had to tell you about them.
What's so special about them? Maybe it has to do with their incredible freshness; they were almost juicy, right out of the package. The flavor was just . . . well . . . it was perfection. I think I was momentarily speechless when I tasted them that first time. I probably looked like I'd just opened the door to the Publishers' Clearinghouse Prize Patrol, in dried cherry form. And the fact that they came from Michigan cherry trees deepened my already considerable affection for them. (As you may already know, I'm a born and bred Michigander, and I think there's almost nothing more beautiful than a northern Michigan cherry orchard bursting with crimson fruit. Anyway, before I get further carried away, here's a link to Germack, the Detroit-based company that produces the dried cherries--check it out.)
So, in light of all that, I just had to share this recipe. Besides featuring fantastic cherries, it is my very favorite scone recipe. It hails largely from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham (whose big claim to fame is the complete revision of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook--no small feat!). Her version contains raisins, apricots, prunes, and/or figs. My version uses cherries only, slightly less butter, and slightly less sugar. These scones can be quickly mixed up by hand, and could be easily assembled in the morning for a nice breakfast. Then again, they are so utterly delicious, feel free to indulge in them no matter what the clock says.
Give these a try-- they won't let you down!
Cream Scones with Sweet Dried Cherries
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2 cups All Purpose flour, bleached
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus an additional 2 Tbsp. set aside
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix together with a whisk or fork.
Pour in the dried cherries and mix them in with a fork.
Pour in the cream and combine with dry ingredients still using a fork. Mix until the dough coheres together in a rough shaggy clump.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it about 9 times.--not too much.
Pat the dough into a circle roughly 10" round.
Using a pizza cutter, bench scraper, or a really sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 even wedges. Place the wedges on the parchment covered cookie sheet, about 1" apart.
Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter on the top of each scone.
Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top of each one.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes; check them early so they don't overbrown. Take them out when they're golden brown. Cool on a rack for a few minutes.
Great served warm, with butter or plain. Store any extra scones in a well covered container, or a Zip-Loc bag. They're definitely best the first day.
And, yes, they are hard hard hard to resist.
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