Winter has fully settled on New York and frankly it’s been a shock to my system. I’d love to go into hibernation mode and stay under the covers emerging only for BBC crime dramas on Netflix (we finished The Fall with Gillian Anderson and now I’ve moved on to Broadchurch. Slow build as we discover that many people in the small Dorset town have secrets!) and carb-based meals. Or Chipotle.
The next warmest option is to turn on the oven – a welcome blast of heat for my cold fingers – and bake something simple, comforting, and citrus based. For me that’s a batch of scones. They take enough effort so feel like I’m accomplishing something, but are so unfussy and rustic in presentation that they’re on the table in less than an hour.
I originally planned to re-create a wonderful lemon-ginger biscuit I had at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco from Biscuit Bender (amazing with blueberry jam), but got side tracked thinking about other citrus + ginger combinations. I also realized I had a container of whole-milk ricotta in the fridge left over from another recipe and once I remembered the vanilla salt I made last month the wheels totally fell off that biscuit train.
Not to worry though, because these Orange Ricotta Scones totally deliver and because the biscuit train is never off the rails long around here.
Orange Ricotta Scones with Vanilla Salt (Yield: 12-16 Scones)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta, bought or homemade
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons orange zest, divided about 2 large oranges
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom honey
4-5 teaspoons orange juice
Vanilla Sea Salt (recipe here)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Chill the baking sheets and ingredients in between steps.
In a large bowl combine the all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Lightly toss the diced butter in the flour mixture to coat then using a pastry cutter, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator.
In a large liquid measuring cup, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of the orange zest with the egg, ricotta, and whole milk. Make a well in center of the flour mixture and add the ricotta mixture all at once, fork the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. The dough will be a little shaggy at this point.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough 8 to 10 times until dough pulls together. Pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick and cut into squares or triangles.
Place the scones 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake about 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Slide the parchment and scones onto a cooling rack.
While the scones are cooling, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, honey, reserved orange zest and orange juice with a pinch of salt until smooth. Drizzle the icing over the cooled scones, sprinkle with a little vanilla sea salt, and serve!
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, totally. I used a large mixing bowl, pastry cutter, 2 cup-size liquid measuring cup, dry measuring cups and spoons, a microplane grater, paring knife, and a dinner fork. I also needed a small bowl, small spoon, two rimmed baking sheets, a bench scraper, and parchment paper.
These are definitively scones, not biscuits thanks to the ricotta and sugar, but are also just very lightly sweet when un-iced. During my experiments I tasted them plain, with a bit of honey, iced only, and iced + vanilla salt – all were delicious in their own way, so choose what you like best. The ricotta keep the dough tender and its very mild flavor allows the sweet orange come through as the elegant star of the whole affair. Pair with a cup of tea and an Agatha Christie novel.