cherry-fennel scones

Reblogged from More Than One More Day, Wednesday January 19, 2011: The Fennel and Golden Raisin Scones looked so pretty in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook that I decided to try them. My plan was to use up all the ingredients in my pantry before leaving for the States, but  I didn’t have raisins on hand. I did have dried cherries and cranberry raisins. I didn’t know how the combination would work but I went ahead anyway. Halfway through preparations, this recipe has to be frozen so it must be started the night before if you want them for breakfast. Or get up really early! Since Andy will be baking a few at a time for one person, I decided to brush the tops before freezing. To make these scones from start to finish takes at least 3 hours to 13 hours at most.
Ingredients
3 tablespoons fennel seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups dried cherries and cranberry raisins combined, coarsely chopped
4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg lightly beatenPrepare the ingredients. In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds coarsely. Set aside. Coarsely chop the cherries and cranberries and set aside. It’s important to chop up the fruit otherwise large pieces get stuck in the biscuit/cookie cutter.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Add the dried fruit, cream, and 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir until the dough just comes together.

Make scones for freezing. Prepare a baking tray lined with waxed or parchment paper. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board. Dust your hands lightly with flour. Pat the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds out of the dough. (My cookie cutter is 2 1/4 inches in diameter.) Place on the prepared baking tray about 1/2 inch apart. Gently pat the scraps together and continue cutting out rounds. I got 18  rounds out of this amount of dough.  Firm up the scones by freezing them for at least 2 hours or overnight. At the point, the scones can be put up in plastic bags for baking later. They can be stored for up to 3 weeks frozen.

Bake the scones. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine the beaten egg with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and brush lightly on top of the rounds. Using your thumb and forefingers, sprinkle the top of each round lightly with fennel seeds. Place the scones 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the scones are golden and the tops are flecked with brown spots. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool. Scones are at their best on the day they are baked.

The Cake Baker’s Notes: I discovered that the scones were underdone even after 25 minutes. Perhaps the egg wash made them soggy. In any case, I recommend baking an additional 5 minutes or more, in 5 minute increments, up to a total of 10 additional minutes. The flavor was a cross between a savory and a sweet scone. The fennel gave it a light licorice flavor and the cranberries were tangy-sweet. The cherries were negligible, probably because they were unsweetened. I’d make this again using the flavored dried cherries since they have a stronger flavor to complement the fennel.
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