Since the end of May, I am officially a licensed driver, theoretically free to venture the roads independent of parental presence. Theoretically free, because I’m still chained to the “I made it” aka “YES, I’m alive!” text that I’m supposed to send every time I arrive safely. However, to my parents’ annoyance, after deploying my self-chauffeuring skills to morning swim practice, I tend to forget. (Because no news is good news, right?)
Quite nerdy and predictably, upon the realization that with my license I’d have the powers of spontaneous baking whims fulfilled, I was all too excited and gave a mental evil cackle (mwahahahaha). Now I can randomly decide to bake something and, having first snagged the old credit card, go get any ingredients myself, completely bypassing any refusals, cries of a lack of advanced warning, and (rightful) grumbles of parents. How revolutionary and liberating!
Although I have not yet exercised this great freedom of the grocery (it would also require not being lazy…), the urge will come. Until then, however, I can simply make things like these scones, which are essentially the express checkout lane of baking. 10 or fewer
groceries ingredients? Check. Quick prep? Check. Quick baking time? Check. Quick time to devour? Check.
Speaking of spontaneity, the idea for these scones randomly popped into my head ages ago, and I jotted down “pistachio honey orange scones” onto my list of baking ideas. Between the time of writing that and making these this week, apricots joined the party. I reluctantly nixed the pistachios, as I didn’t know if it would be too much action for a scone. (Plus, that was the only ingredient I didn’t have. Laziness.)
The overall flavor is light but with definitive, balanced notes of floral honey and orange. Cream scones are always tender and flaky, and here sweet bits of chewy apricots stud the buttery layers. With a quick brush of cream and sprinkle of raw sugar, the tops became even more bronzed and crisped. I might have been thinking in terms of color (orange, of course), but these delivered in terms of flavor.
Apricot Honey Orange Scones
I decided to nix my early idea of pistachios, but I think either chopped pistachios or almonds would be a nice addition, both in texture and flavor. Other dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, or currants, would be good substitutions for the apricots. Play around with it!
Makes 8 scones
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons orange zest
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup diced dried apricots (into the size of currants or dried cranberries)
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup chilled heavy cream, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing the tops (optional)
raw or sanding sugar, for sprinkling the tops (optional)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Add the butter cubes and toss gently to coat the cubes in flour. Using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry blender, quickly rub and cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is a coarse meal with some larger flakes and bits of butter. Don’t try to make it an even mixture! Stir in the apricots.
In the measuring cup, mix together honey and heavy cream. Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture, and pour in the heavy cream-honey mixture. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently stir together just until a dough forms.
Dump out dough and any escaped bits at the bottom of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead to bring any unmixed bits into the dough. Using floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch think circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges using a knife or bench scraper.
Place wedges onto the baking sheet. If you want, brush the tops of the scones with the remaining tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until scones are bronzed, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Storing: Scones are always best the first day, preferably warm, though I’m sure no one will complain if you serve them homemade day-old scones. However, if you want to make them ahead, you can freeze them unbaked and simply add a few minutes to the baking time (no need to defrost) or freeze them already baked and completely cooled, then defrost as needed.