orange-rhubarb buttermilk scones


When you find yourself sifting and re-sifting, sifting and re-measuring scone-flour because you can’t remember how many cups you’ve already put in the bowl, it’s time to take a step back and take a breath.

A big, deep one.

In fact, take two. The kind intended for belting instrumentation:



Some mornings are like this. Some mornings, our regular due diligence isn’t enough… and other mornings, we’re right on target, but we’d rather doubt ourselves. My morning had started much like this, when I woke up and decided I had to have scones. The kind with big and plump tart chunks of the reddest rhubarb, with just a few breaths in-between.


There are days (like this scone one), when the last of three cups of flour is dumped into the bowl with my own two hands so swiftly it becomes unconscious and I suddenly can’t remember if I’ve put it in the bowl yet or if I need to measure out another cup.

I find these days– days of flowering uncertainty– that begin with morning baking, are often the hardest. They’re difficult not because we didn’t dump the flour into the bowl in the first place (turns out it was there all along), but because we’re even more prone to doubting ourselves. Did I or didn’t I? Don’t worry, you did. You are. You will.


At least for me, it’s the same feeling of uncertainty as when I arrive at the front door and I’m standing just outside it and I can’t remember if I’ve got the keys.

I only scan my purse briefly with doubtful eyes; I couldn’t have packed them. It’s more likely that they’re lost somewhere in the apartment, I think, and so I re-enter my apartment looking everywhere with such scrutiny, only to hear them finally jingle in my pocket when I bend down to peer under the couch. Don’t worry, you did. You are. You will.


And so, these babies, (maybe because of all of that sifting and re-sifting, turning the flour so light and fine): turned out delicately crumbed, like Valentine doilies, punctuated with a blush of pink here and there, across those craggy tops. We’re back on.



Adapted from this cranberry-orange scone recipe in Bon Appetit (November 1998) via

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, chilled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/3cup granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 2-3 stalks rhubarb, diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 egg for wash (optional)
  • turbinado or other course sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, toss diced rhubarb with 3 tablespoons of sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and orange zest. Sprinkle butter chunks across flour mixture, and rub butter into mixture using a pastry blender. Mixture should be course and dry, resembling small peas. Slowly pour in buttermilk and using a fork, stir gently, until mixture begins to clump together. Gently fold in rhubarb. Turn dough onto a clean, floured surface, folding and turning it a couple times, being careful not to overwork.

Form dough into a 1″ thick disk, and cut in halves, and then quarters, until you have cut eight slices. Whisk an egg in a small bowl and then using a pastry brush, gently brush egg over scones and then sprinkle with course turbinado sugar.

Bake scones for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Scone-dough keeps well and can be frozen and baked at a later date if desired, if frozen be sure to allow an additional five minutes or so to bake. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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