The sweet, tangy flavor of dried apricots perks up these not-too-sweet scones. Or, you can use dried pears, figs, cherries, and cranberries, alone or in combination, in place of the apricots. The pistachios are optional, but they add wonderful color and texture and their own distinctive flavor. The scones are even delicious made without any dried fruit or nuts. Serve them with butter and homemade preserves.
- 3 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
- 1/3 CUP PLUS 2 TABLESPOONS GRANULATED SUGAR
- 2 1/2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER
- 3/4 TEASPOON SALT
- 1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
- 6 OUNCES COLD UNSALTED BUTTER, CUT INTO 1/4-INCH SLICES
- 1/2 CUP PLUS 2 TABLESPOONS MOIST DRIED APRICOTS (11 TO 12 LARGE), FINELY DICED TO YIELD 3/4 CUP
- 1/2 CUP UNSALTED, SHELLED PISTACHIO NUTS, COARSELY CHOPPED (OPTIONAL)
- 2 TEASPOONS FINELY GRATED ORANGE ZEST
- 1 CUP COLD WELL-SHAKEN BUTTERMILK
- 2 TABLESPOONS WELL-SHAKEN BUTTERMILK
- 3 TABLESPOONS TURBINADO OR OTHER RAW SUGAR
Before baking: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees f. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
To make the scones: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and whisk to blend. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter just until the majority of the butter chunks range in size from peas to coarse crumbs. Stir in the apricots and nuts, if using. Stir the orange zest into the buttermilk, and drizzle half of the buttermilk evenly over the surface of the flour mixture. Toss lightly with a fork. Then add the remaining buttermilk and toss until the mixture comes together in a shaggy mass. If any areas remain dry, gradually add more buttermilk, 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time, tossing lightly to distribute the buttermilk. With lightly floured hands, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, shape it into a rough, semicohesive mass, and knead gently about three times.
On the lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 by 5-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter: working from a short end, lift the bottom one-third of the rectangle up over the center and then fold the top third down to cover. This folding creates layers of dough and fat, so the scones will puff up slightly as they bake and will have a flaky texture. Roll out the dough again into a 14 by 5 1/2 by 3/4-inch rectangle. Transfer it to a baking sheet, place a piece of plastic wrap on top, and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, to rest and to partially chill the dough.
Carefully transfer the chilled dough to a cutting board. Cut 13 small wedges with a sharp knife. Place the wedges, about 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press the 2 end pieces from the rectangle together to form a wedge, and add it to the others on the baking sheet.
To glaze the scones: Brush the tops of the scones with the buttermilk and sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake the scones until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature the same day they are baked.
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