Scones are great for brunch or an afternoon tea. But the secret to them is to serve them as fresh out of the oven as possible; otherwise they go stale quickly. One great thing about this recipe, from John Barriecelli’s “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, $35), is that you can make the dough in advance, cut out the scones and let them set in the refrigerator. Then just pop the tray into the oven 30 minutes before you need them.
Another great thing is the combination of dried cherries and chocolate, which boosts the flavor into the stratosphere.
If you have leftovers, freeze them until you need them.
Sour Cherry-Chocolate Scones
5 cups flour, plus more for cutting
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
3/4 dried sour cherries
3/4 cup chopped (1/2-inch) semisweet chocolate
2 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled, plus 1/4 cup for brushing, divided use
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar, for finishing
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mat; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and zest. Stir in sour cherries and chocolate chunks.
Add 2 1/4 cups of the cream and fold with a rubber scraper or your hands until the cream has been completely absorbed. Then continue adding cream by the tablespoon just until the dough comes together and there are no dry patches.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, gently press and pat out the dough into a 1-inch thick round. using a 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible, dipping the cutter into flour after each cut. Reroll the scraps and continue to cut out the dough. Place the cut scones about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate the scones until firm, about 1 hour.
Set the oven rack in the middle position. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly brush the top of the scones with remaining 1/4 cup cream and sprinkle generously with the sanding sugar. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 12 to 18 scones.
From “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” by John Barricelli