Christmas calls for something special in the scone realm, so here’s something with flavours that simply shout: “Happy Christmas” (in Scone language that is.) Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it’s a flexible recipe. In fact you might want to double up and make two batches; they’re a great edible gift.
Makes: 13 – 15 scones if using a 6cm/2½” cutter
Level: Reasonably easy; the decorating option might prove interesting, but it’s fairly straight-forward too.
Time: Prep the night before: 20 minutes. On the day hands on: 40 – 45 minutes. Baking: 12 – 14 minutes. Decorating option: 30 – 40 minutes. (So, not as quick as “normal” scones, but they’re worth it.)
Equipment: A hand mixer or stand mixer can be used, but it’s easy enough to just use a bowl and wooden spoon. If you decide to do the decorating option you’ll need a small star shaped cutter or a similar Christmassy shape.
Ingredients for the “boozy fruit”
- Approx. 150g/5.5oz mixed dried fruit and peel (Select from: cranberries, chopped apricots, sultanas, raisins, currants, quartered cherries, crystalised ginger etcetera.)
- Approx. 3 Tbsp alcohol (Select from: rum, brandy, cherry brandy, sherry etcetera)
Main scone ingredients
- 500g/18oz self-raising flour (could be Gluten free)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum powder (if using GF flour)
- 50g/1.75oz ground almonds
- 1 tsp ground ginger*
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon *
- 1 tsp ground cloves*
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg*
- 1 tsp mixed spice*
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 125g/4.5oz butter or margarine, cubed
- 150g/5.5oz boozy fruit (see above)
- 50g/1.75oz flaked almonds or mixed nuts
- 225ml/8 fl oz milk or buttermilk + another 25ml/1fl oz in reserve
- 1 egg in the mixture
- ½ egg to glaze
- 2 Tbsp demerara sugar or enough to lightly sprinkle on the scones
* If you don’t have all these spices, don’t worry about it, just put in as many as you have. Like I said, it’s a flexible recipe.
Ingredients for an optional decoration
- 50g/1.75oz marzipan (shop bought or make you own – see below for method)
- Red and green food colours
- Icing sugar to dust
- 1 – 2 Tbsp apricot jam (probably won’t be needed, but worth having available)
Pre: The day or evening before you intend baking, put all your chosen dried fruit in a shallow bowl and pour over your chosen alcohol. Warm in the microwave for about 20 – 30 seconds. Stir well, cover the bowl and leave overnight.
You don’t have to toast the flaked almonds, but toasting nuts or seeds does enhance their flavour. Put them on a small metal dish and give them a few minutes in a medium oven. Keep a close eye on them, giving the dish an occasional shake; nuts will burn very suddenly.
On the day: Turn the oven on to reach 200C° / Fan 180°C / 400°F / gas 6. Grease and/or line one or two baking sheets.
1. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum powder (if using), ground almonds, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mixed spice, baking powder and salt. (Use a large bowl & spoon or an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.)
2. Add in the cubed butter and rub in by hand or pulse in a mixer to create a breadcrumb consistency.
3. Stir or lightly pulse in the sugar, boozy fruit and flaked almonds.
4. Stir the beaten egg into the 225ml milk or buttermilk then pour this into the dry mixture.
5. Pulse or mix by hand, just until it begins to come together. Add in the reserved milk as needed.
6. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. Flatten or roll out the mixture to a height of about 4cm/1½” (or the height of your cutter.) Stamp out the required number of scones without twisting the cutter.
7. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg, making sure none dribbles down the side as this hampers the rise.
8. Sprinkle lightly with demerara sugar then bake for about 12 – 14 minutes. When baked, the scones will be turning golden brown and when tapped with knuckles they will have a hollow sound.
9. Leave on the trays for 5 – 10 minutes so they can firm up then move to a wire rack to cool fully.
10. For the decorating option take a piece of marzipan about the size of a golf ball and add a few drops of red food colouring. Knead the ball until you achieve a strong and uniform red colour.
11. You can roll out the red marzipan, but it’s easier to simply press it flat between two pieces of cling film or parchment. You can dust the surfaces lightly with icing sugar to help avoid it sticking. Aim for a thickness of about 5mm then stamp out the stars. (NB Occasionally dip the cutter into icing sugar as this helps to release the cut shape.
12. Repeat the above with green food dye then place the stars on the scones. They will probably stay on simply by pressing lightly, but if necessary you could “glue” them in place by brushing on a small dab of warmed apricot jam.
Ingredients for homemade marzipan*
- 45g/1.5oz caster sugar (white or golden)
- 70g/2.5oz icing sugar, sifted (US Confectioners’ sugar)
- 115g/4oz ground almonds
- ½ beaten egg
- A few drops of lemon juice
- A couple of drops of almond extract
*This will make more than you need.
1. Put the sugars and ground almonds in a bowl and mix. Make a well in the middle then tip in the egg, lemon juice and almond extract.
2. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a fork.
3. Dust the work surface with icing sugar then briefly knead the marzipan into a smooth dough. Don’t overdo it or it will get greasy. Add a bit more icing sugar if it’s very wet.
4. Shape into a flat disc, then wrap and keep in a cool place until ready to use.
FINALLY: Have a lovely Christmas. May God bless you now and in the year ahead. Happy baking, happy eating.