Sour Cream Cherry Scones and House Finches

IMG_2979It’s still cold enough that baking up some scones and nibbling them with a cup of tea sounds appealing, though Spring keeps promising to arrive. I had run across a tasty-sounding recipe for Sour Cream Cherry Scones and decided to give them a whirl. As it turned out, they were delicious–buttery and toasty with tart spangles of dried cherries*. The plate in the above picture is fun–it’s a tin copy of a piece of Sevres porcelain. It’s pretty, but if I drop it, no big problem! And it cost a quarter at a garage sale. It’s my version of the good life!

Here is the recipe:

Sour Cream Cherry Scones

I used this "natural" sugar, which is a beautiful creamy brown, but I can't say it made any different in the scone flavor.
I used this “natural” sugar, which is a beautiful creamy brown, but I can’t say it made any different in the scone flavor.

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cups sour cream
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cups dried cherries*

Topping:
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine topping ingredients and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Mix in butter with fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Combine sour cream, egg and almond extract and stir into flour mixture just until moistened. The mixture will be rough and shaggy. Stir in cherries.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times until smooth. Divide dough in half. Pat each into a 7-inch circle. Place two inches apart on baking sheet. Cut each circle into 8 wedges, and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until scones are golden. Cool 15 minutes before separating scones.

Truth in baking notes: *I actually used cherry-flavored dried cranberries here, as the difference in price was considerable, and the flavor of the cranberries is good. Also, the recipe says to mix the butter into the flour with a fork, but I used my impeccably clean hands for this. I pick up a handful of butter and flour, and smear the butter into the flour with my other hand. I cut the softened butter into chunks before doing this (see photo below). I repeat this process until the flour and butter are combined. How you would actually do with a fork, I’m not sure.

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Here is the mixture after the butter is rubbed in. It looks a bit like sand.

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Here is the dough after kneading, and cut into two halves. Don’t knead it more than necessary, but don’t be afraid to knead it enough to pull it together smoothly.

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I used a ruler to roughly measure the 7″, though you don’t have to be too persnickety. A wise chef once told me that if people want food that looks like it was made by a machine, they can go to the frozen food aisle and buy Sarah Lee. There’s a wisdom in this.

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Here are the two circles of dough ready to go into the oven.

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Out of the oven. Oh, yum.

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On its faux Sevre porcelain plate.

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The house finches are back, looking good.

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And my little Dutch irises are up, looking like jewels. Love ’em! Peace to you. Fran

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