“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”

~John Gunther
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Simply orange

I just had one of these for breakfast, hot from the oven, and it was heavenly.  For weeks the recipe was tumbling around in my mind, just waiting for a free day to be liberated.  Orange-cranberry is a common combination for scones, and I tried those first, but prefer the simply orange version best.  
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The orange-cranberry version
They were so good, I’m going to make more today and freeze them in the raw stage…ready to pop in the oven any morning the mood strikes.  When I made this recipe, I baked two immediately to give to a friend who was coming by, and I placed the remainder in the fridge, to be baked in the morning.  The scones that rested and chilled overnight actually rose higher and came out better.  And what could be easier than popping them in the oven when you wake up?  Start your coffee, walk the dog and twenty minutes later, viola!… hot orange pastry nirvana.  I started with the basic scone recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.
The first attempt was a tiny bit dry, so the second try I added a little more liquid and they came out perfect.  Environment and altitude can affect the composition of the dough, so use your judgement when adding the liquid.  It should just come together, without being wet.  I’ve included pictures so you can see what the dough should look like.
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Orange Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
the zest from two oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice, plus 1 tablespoon (or a little more, if your dough needs it)
4 tablespoons very cold butter, grated 
1/4 cup shortening

1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for brushing on top
Coarse or large grain sugar for topping

Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons of milk, plus a few drops more, if needed to produce a glaze that will pour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the zest.
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In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and orange juice.
This next step is important, because it will determine the texture of the scone.  You can use just cold butter, just shortening, or a mixture of both.  I tried it with just butter and the combination, and the combo came out better.  With the shortening, pinch small marble size pieces and drop them into the dry ingredients. It’s not as messy as it sounds, if you get some flour on your fingers, the shortening doesn’t stick.  Don’t be tempted to use a pastry blender for this recipe, it will produce a tough, mealy texture with this recipe.
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Grate the VERY COLD butter in after the shortening.  
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Working quickly (don’t want the butter to warm up) add the liquid, stir a few times to bring dough together, and then turn out onto a floured cutting board.  Be careful, too much mixing or kneading at this point will produce a tough, heavy scone.
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Gently fold and gather dough together until it’s cohesive.
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At this point you can pat the dough into a 10 inch circle and cut into wedges, or alternatively, pat into a square about an inch thick and use a bisquit cutter, cut out round scones.
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Brush the scones with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 7 minutes, then turn the oven off and without opening the oven door, let the scones remain in the oven for 8-10 minutes.  (It’s important to bake the scones on the middle oven rack.)  Remove the scones from the oven and cool minimally on a rack.

If desired, stir together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl, adding milk just until the glaze will run off a spoon.  Drizzle over warm scones. 
Serve the scones immediately or within a few hours, for best flavor.

This dough lends itself to being made ahead, shaped, and either frozen or refrigerated overnight before baking.  For frozen scones, add 2 minutes to the baking time before you turn the oven off.
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