As of this past week, there’s a different feeling in the air. It’s crisp in the morning, and even when the sun comes out, there’s a little bite to the day that’s distinctly fall-like. And fall-like weather means more baking. The idea to make these came to me when I was faced with a shit-ton of open jars of jam in my refrigerator. I knew I had to use them up, and soon, and using them as accompaniment to toast, yogurt or English muffins just wasn’t cutting it. Not to mention the bags of Trader Joe’s dried fruit I had. So I knew I had to do something. I had to do something that would use up some of this- quickly.
Before you start, don’t even lie to me. Don’t even lie to me & tell me you don’t do this. Don’t even try to sit there, looking my blog straight in the face, saying “Nope. I never, ever have an exorbitant amount of ______ in my pantry at any given time that needs to be used up.” Because if you do I’ll know you’re nothing more than a bald-faced liar.
EVERYONE has that problem. Everyone. Everyone in modern society has this conundrum. Unless you’re one of those people that live in those tiny houses and have one pair of shoes per family member and a bed that comes out of the wall. In that case, you most likely do not have the problem of too many boxes/containers/bags/bottles/jars of anything. If you’re one of those people, you most likely use all your open jars before opening another, and you don’t make/buy anything new unless the old stuff is used up. So if you are indeed one of those people, you probably don’t need to read this post, but please feel free to continue to do so because you might like the scones. Also, please write and tell me how all that is working out for you because I can’t fathom it. Seriously.
I can’t even imagine living without my extensive tea collection. My tea collection alone wouldn’t fit in those little houses. Forget about my shoes… or worse yet, my bags! Who am I kidding? My jadeite and appetizer plate collection wouldn’t fit in one of those houses.
For the rest of us, those who live in regular-sized (or over-sized) houses & apartments (particularly those batshit crazy “extreme couponers” who buy 600 jars of jam for $.50 each with coupons when it’s on sale or those among us who like to pickle & preserve), we need things like this. We need to come up with unique ways of using up those preserves we buy or make too much of before they’re bound for the garbage. Despite my “if it smells good, and it looks good, it’ll still taste good” theory… some things just do have an expiration date. And I hate to waste my time and money by throwing anything homemade out. I even toss leftover baked goods outside for the birds & squirrels to nosh on, that way at least something is eating it, and it doesn’t turn out to be a total loss. So when my pantry starts to get overloaded with open bags of dried Bing cherries or or my fridge starts to be overrun with open jars of jams & preserves, I start to brainstorm ways to use them up so that they don’t end up going in the trash. And that is also why you’ve been seeing a lot of jam-filled or jam-topped desserts lately. I have to use all this stuff up! I’ve got new jars from this season and I can’t be letting my designated “preserves & pickles” cupboard overflow into the other cabinets. Then I’d really never find anything. Other than baked goods that incorporate my delicious jams, I don’t know how else to solve the problem. I already make small-batches. And trust me, I give more than enough of this stuff away. Oh… the trials & tribulations of the modern day cook. I guess I’ll just have to keep baking!
And that, my friends, is how you end up with drunken cherry scones. Well that and a post from Joy the Baker about cherry jam cookies. That in turn, made me think of jam scones.
‘Cause see, people usually put jam ON their scones. So why not bake them with the preserves already on them?
This is my favorite scone recipe. It can be modified and redone in a million different ways- you can also halve it if you’re making single-layer scones. Last time I made it, I used chocolate chunks and despite being so simple, they’re everyone’s favorite scone. But you can do just about anything you want. It would be fantastic if you used a little lemon zest in the dough, omitted the cherries & sugar topping, then filled them with lemon curd. Bake ‘em, take ‘em out, let ‘em cool and top them with a light icing. Yum. The same thing could be done with an orange marmalade filling: just use a little orange zest in the dough, or use raspberry jam as filling and use chocolate chunks in the scones themselves. Or, you can just make plain scones & use a regular ol’ strawberry jam filling. You can also substitute raisins, dried cranberries or nuts for the dried cherries, and use any kind of jam, preserve or marmalade you want to fill them. They’re really that versatile. PERFECT for using up all those random edible thingies you have laying around. You can toss just about anything in them; chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit chunks, etc, etc, etc. Just like the muffins I made a few weeks ago, you can add or do just about anything with them! Go nuts. Use your imagination.
Or just stick with me & make drunken scones.
DRUNKEN CHERRY SCONES (DRIED BING CHERRY SCONES WITH VANILLA VODKA CHERRY PRESERVE FILLING)
Makes about 8 double layer scones
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
- 1 cup dried Bing cherries (or Montmorency, or whatever kind you want)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg white
- 1 jar vanilla vodka cherry preserves
- Turbinado sugar (for topping)
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400° degrees.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate frozen butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in cherries.
- In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.) Divide into four equal dough balls.
- Place two of the balls on a lightly floured surface and pat each into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Cover one circle with a few tablespoons of the cherry preserves. Gently lift the other circle and place it on top. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 4 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the other two dough balls. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
For whatever reason, mine came out incredibly rustic & rough around the edges. Not that I’m complaining.
And there you have it. Drunken cherry scones that pair perfectly with Bing Cherry with Almond tea from Davidson’s. It’s great to serve pastries drenched in alcohol at a tea party, dontcha think? Nobody ever expects it. It’s a pleasant surprise. I happen to think the very fact that the jam is already baked into the scones is a pleasant surprise too! And it also uses up some of that open jam in your fridge & those open bags of dried fruit in your cabinets that are rapidly expiring. And… if you’ve got an open container of heavy cream just sitting there in the fridge, why not make some whipped cream in a jar to serve with these? If not, then regular clotted cream works too. I myself would stick with some homemade whipped cream. I don’t like clotted cream (the name makes me think of blood clots; its clear I’m the daughter of a former FDNY-EMS Lieutenant and that I’ve watched way too many medical shows).
I find these are best served on/with vintage items, especially vintage jadeite, like this Jane Ray set that was my grandmother’s. I love vintage jadeite. Does anyone else have a jadeite (or Depression glass) obsession like I do?
Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I have so many other preserves in my fridge, it’ll take me at least another month to use them all up, even if I make two baked items a week with them. But it’s a step in the right direction. And for you: if you’ve got more dried fruit and/or nuts (heh, I said nuts) in your cupboards than you can handle, try your hand at making some of these dried fruit conserves. I’ve got a few different recipes and they’re all excellent with oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream and on pound cakes. And these muffins are amazing for incorporating not only jams or preserves, but also anything else you want to use up. So go get on it!
This recipe was featured on Redbook Magazine‘s online slideshow: “Boozy Breakfasts: How to Sneak Booze into your Brunch”, August 2013. See it here.