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ORANGE CRANBERRY SCONES
Think of this recipe as a springboard for your imagination; feel free to change things up by substituting ingredients, adding more dried fruits of your choice, and adding fresh flavors such as a squeeze of fresh citrus.

You can also use sour cream, flavored or plain yogurt, kefir or cream instead of buttermilk, but the buttermilk adds tang and extra lightness to the final result.

Sprinkle oats, cracked wheat cereal, muesli or granola, seeds and nuts over the top or mix them into the batter. It's your canvas! Be sure to share your rendition in the comments section below.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
grated zest of an orange
1/2 cup Craisins or golden raisins
1 stick (8 tbsp.) cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk (plus extra for brushing)
coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar for 30 seconds.

Cut the cold butter into small cubes 1/4-1/2 inch. On low speed mix until butter is just coated with flour, leaving large chunks. Stir in the Craisins or Raisins and the zest. (Cooks Note: Dried fruits will be improved by a brief soaking in hot water, rum, wine or fruit juice; drain and toss in sugar before adding).

Stir in 2/3 cup buttermilk and mix for about 30 seconds, or just until the liquid is absorbed. (The batter will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl). Using a spatula, scrape the dough down and form it into a rough ball. To prevent tough scones, don't over mix and use a very light touch.

Pat the dough together into a flattened circle 3/4-inch thick. Place the circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a silicone baking sheet or a buttered sheet of wax paper. Divide the circle into eight wedges and separate the wedges out leaving a 1/2-inch space between them.

Brush the tops with remaining buttermilk or an egg wash.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar (sanding sugar or turbinado is best for a crisp crust).

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve warm with butter and jam or honey or fruits in syrup. The tops of the scones may be lightly dusted with confectioners sugar if you did not use sugar before baking, if desired.

This same recipe may be used to make round scones; just pat out the mixture, as above, and use a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or glass dusted with flour to cut out circles and adjust baking time.

Submitted by: CM
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