Monday, April 6, 2015

Shannon's Lemon-Cranberry Scones

I absolutely hate when favourite products of mine are discontinued, changed or simply no longer carried where I shop. This happens to me so often these days with food items, my mom and I have taken to buying stuff en masse and hoarding it in our pantry and freezer. Of course, a good reason for my dilemma is that I do require some "specialty" items (mostly vegan, allergy friendly and/or very low-fat), but even when it comes to run-of-the-mill food shopping for the whole family we've been forced to hit two or three stores in search of an item.

Understandably, what's worse for my household (and most others' I know of) is when a favourite restaurant changes their menu or (horrors) goes out of business. For instance, we were frequent visitors at a few local pubs (one of which was run by a friend of the family) when, out of the blue, they closed within months of each other. Gone were one's decadent fish and chips doused with malt vinegar and their classic pickles, away went the other's to-die-for pasta and British curry bowls. Sad days, friends... sad days. Our local bakery changed their homemade, super-buttery croissants and danishes formulae over to par-baked, frozen dough, neither of which lent the (more expensive) treats any real flavour besides sugar and salt.

Thankfully, when it comes to the restaurant dishes at least, I learned to cook and developed a sense of adventure in the kitchen. I love to experiment with recipes anyway, and as I became aware of what the elements in recipes did (especially in baking) I found more and more ways of making foods close to, or better than, the originals. More than that, I could do them from scratch, and cheaper! Last year one of my co-workers and friends was telling me about the "death" of Starbucks' old formula for lemon scones - most notably the lack of glaze on top in lieu of a crunchy sugar sprinkle. Now, I have to admit, I go to the 'Bucks for the coffee and espresso alone, so never thought to look at their display case. A little Googling later and I had a few lemony scone recipes at my fingertips, which I combined with a little extra ingredient know-how to come up with the ones I'm sharing today.

"Shannon's" Lemon Cranberry Scones

These wedges are the perfect balance of buttery, sweet, tangy, rich, tender and fluffy - the dried cranberries add just the right amount of texture and colour, while lemon comes around in the forms of zest, juice and extract. As the recipe makes a fair amount - and my coworker would likely only have one or two others willing to share the lemony bliss - I used a blend of shortening and butter and added a pinch of soy lecithin granules so that they wouldn't go stale or dry after a day or two, nor would they suffer if frozen. In fact, I actually froze the dough pre-baking because I knew I wouldn't get to it immediately, and when popped right into the oven from frozen the scones were the fluffiest and softest ones I'd ever made. Glazed with their tangy powdered sugar icing, they looked and (from what I hear) tasted better than their predecessors, and I've had requests for more!

Shannon's Lemon-Cranberry Scones
Makes 12
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup Truvia Baking Blend
1 tbsp soy lecithin granules (optional, helps maintain texture if freezing!)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening, chilled and diced
½ tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup chilled half and half
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup lemon juice (more or less depending on consistency)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, Truvia, lecithin, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.
  2. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. Add lemon extract, lemon juice and cream, stirring just until mixed. Gently mix in cranberries.
  4. Knead gently 6-8 times, just until it comes together.
  5. Cover and chill 1 hour.
  6. On a parchment lined baking sheet, pat dough into two circles about ½” thick.
  7. Using a sharp knife, score each circle into 6 wedges, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  8. Freeze 1 hour if baking the same day. For later baking, place the tray in the freezer until solid, then wrap scone discs and store in a zip-top bag.
  9. Position rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  11. Cool completely before glazing.

Glaze:
  1. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon extract.
  2. Add just enough lemon juice until you reach a thick “icing/glaze” consistency.
  3. Drizzle over cooled scones and allow to harden.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 307.5
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 14.4 mg
Sodium: 32.0 mg
Total Carbs: 44.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 3.4 g