Addictions and the Scone

February 9, 2010

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about this. Why do we do things that we know are not good for us? Why, for instance, do I waste time I don’t have, on TV I shouldn’t be watching, and money I didn’t earn, on things I don’t need? Why, instead of studying for my family medicine exam, did I make these delicious cranberry-orange scones? Ahh, the powers of addiction. I, for one, am addicted to procrastination. Also, coffee (new addition). I will find any, any, any excuse to put something off until the LAST possible minute. “Oh my gosh, Modern Marvels: The Potato is on. There is NO way I can miss this.”

I really didn’t get just how strong the pull can be for some people, until this year. During my internal medicine rotation, our team was seeing patients in the critical care step-down unit. These are the people who have just come out of the ICU. We smelled cigarette smoke, so another student and I went to find out which room it was coming from. I assumed it was a visitor trying to smoke in the room, and I was almost speechless when I found a patient with a tracheostomy, trying to smoke by holding the cigarette up to the tube. She had just been taken off the ventilator, and could barely breath on her own yet. She looked at me and mouthed “I’m sorry.” I was, too.

Today I saw a woman who had her gallbladder removed a week or so ago. She had developed an abscess, and was doubled over in pain. We told her she would need to stay to get IV antibiotics, and possibly an incision and drainage of the abscess. She told me there was no possible way she could stay, because she had way too much to do. I tried to explain that she could actually die from this, if it was left untreated. She said, “Look, I’m a smoker. I haven’t had a cigarette in 2 hours, and I am dying here. I can’t stay in this hospital unless I can smoke.” We promised her as many nicotine patches as she could stand, and let her go outside in the snow and smoke before rolling her back in, in a wheelchair. It felt ridiculous.

It’s interesting to know that no matter what the addiction is– cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, yummy baked goods–the brain chemistry driving it is the same. Our friend, the ventral tegmentum.  I remind myself of this whenever I feel myself getting frustrated with people who refuse to help themselves.

In honor of the ol’ VT, let’s make some scones, shall we?

I started out by zesting two oranges. I love zesting, it’s so satisfying. That’s also because I have a microplane grater… love that thing.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in 4 cups of flour. I used 2 cups of all-purpose flour, and 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (this completely cancels out all the butter and sugar!).  Then, add in 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 T baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 T of orange zest. Mix on low speed to combine.

Dice up 3 sticks of butter (cringe). The butter should be really cold! Here’s roughly how small I chopped up mine:

Add this into the bowl of the stand mixer, and mix on low to combine. In the original recipe, they said to mix until the butter pieces were the size of peas. My butter pieces stayed exactly the same size, so.. whatevs.

Next, you need 4 eggs and 1 cup of half and half.

Lightly beat them together, and slowly add it to the flour mixture, with the mixer on low. The mixture gets thick and sticky, pretty fast.  I had to stop the mixer several times, and use a spatula to scrape it off the paddle. It immediately clumped back up into one big glob.  Grool.

Mix 1 cup of dried cranberries with 1/4 cup of flour, and mix it into the glob. Not an easy feat.

Now comes the messy part. It was so messy, I couldn’t even take pictures. You have to scrape the dough out of the bowl, onto a very well floured surface. My dough was so sticky, I basically plopped handfuls of flour down,  and then sprinkled everything in my kitchen with flour. Use the flour liberally, is where I’m goin’ with this.

Knead the dough into a ball. Or, if you are me, push at it a few times with your fingertips until it is in a roundish shape. Coat your rolling pin with… flour! And roll out the dough until it is 3/4 of an inch thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. I don’t own a 3 inch biscuit cutter, so I used a some-inch drinking glass. Works the same! Put the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t be afraid of the bits of butter still visible in the dough. They are a sign of the deliciosity to come.

Now you can give these bad boys an egg wash. Just whisk together 1 egg with 2 tablespoons of either water or milk, and brush a little onto each scone. Then sprinkle them with sugar. Unspecified amount. So.. until it looks nice and healthy.

Time for baking. 400 degrees for about 18 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top. This is always the trickiest part of baking for me. How do you really know when it’s done?? I feel like those kids at fireworks. Dad, is this the finale? No.  Oh….is THIS the finale??

Almost the finale:

The last step is to make an icing to drizzle on top. Just whisk together 4 teaspoons of freshly squeezed orange juice with 1/2 cup of powdered confectioner’s sugar. I made a double batch, because I am generally gluttonous like that. Drizzle away.

The finale. Mmm. I could really use some coffee right about now.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa

Cranberry Orange Scones


  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold Half and Half
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/3 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and half and half and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.



  1. Sometimes I wish I missed ol’ ventral tengenetum, but he won’t stop coming around. Good thing there’s an unending supply of coffee, chocolate, and poor choices to keep him happy.

    Also, please send us some of these scones, they look fantastic and just buttery enough to help us keep up our fat stores in this snowstorm I really wish I had one with my coffee this morning, all we have is white bread toast (but thanks for making it MOM, if you read this!).

  2. I cooked these scones for my family and they gave us faster runs than the bulls at Pamplona! I couldn’t even get though mine and gave the rest to the dog. I fed these to my mom and she had to be hospitalized for an acute case of disappointment. She had to be given 500cc’s of delicious caek just to balance out the general fail. I think I speak for all Americans when I say that we don’t need your pinko recipes in MY AMERICA. Get back to Moscow, Vladimir.

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