Panettone Scones for the Holidays

These scones are so buttery, flaky and fluffy, plus redolent of candied citrus and layers of almond paste.
These scones are so buttery, flaky and fluffy, plus redolent of candied citrus and layers of almond paste.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to the aroma of buttery, almond-scented, candied citrus-studded scones turning lusciously golden in the oven.

“Panettone Scones” were made for leisurely enjoyment alongside a cup of coffee or tea on a lazy, holiday morning with loved ones gathered around.

This festive recipe is from “Baking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive Season”‘ (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

The new book is by Sarah Kieffer, creator of The Vanilla Bean Blog, and originator of the the pan-banging method for baking cookies that’s detailed in her previous cookbook, “100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More” (Chronicle Books, 2020).

As the name implies, her newest book features more than 50 baked treats perfect for celebrations, including “Nutella Star Bread,” “Coffee-Cardamom Monkey Bread,” “Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Irish Cream,” and “Coconut-Cardamom Cupcakes.”

The “Panettone Scones” are indeed reminiscent in taste of that classic Italian sweet bread, but far easier to make. I used a sample of Paradise Candied Orange Peel, conveniently already diced, in the dough. It’s available at many grocery stores, as well as through Amazon for about $3.90 for 8 ounces.

Candied orange peel, already diced for easy use.
Candied orange peel, already diced for easy use.

Whether you make the scones with that, or other dried fruit, don’t worry — you will not end up with anything resembling fruitcake in the slightest.

The dough with candied orange peel bits.
The dough with candied orange peel bits.
A thin layer of almond paste goes over the dough.
A thin layer of almond paste goes over the dough.

These scones get their tenderness from creme fraiche (or sour cream) and heavy cream. They get their height from the technique used to roll out the dough, first into a square, which is then folded onto itself like a business letter to create layers. And they get their distinctiveness from almond paste, which is rolled out thinly to the same size and shape as the dough, placed on top, then folded business letter-like once again. That ensures that every layer — and every bite — is shot through and through with fragrant, sweet almond paste.

Panettone scones are the perfect holiday morning indulgence.
Panettone scones are the perfect holiday morning indulgence.

The scones bake up crunchy on the outside, and fluffy and moist within. They are perfumed with chewy bits of candied orange peel, fresh orange zest, and sugary almond goodness.

Best yet, you can make and shape the scones ahead of time, then freeze them. Then, all you have to do on Christmas morning is brush them with heavy cream, sprinkle on some sugar, and bake them to savor fresh and warm.

My husband declared these the best scones I’ve ever baked. Coming from him, who’s not always a big scone fan, that’s just about the ultimate endorsement.

See all the lovely layers?
See all the lovely layers?

Panettone Scones

(Makes 8 scones)

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries, apricots, candied orange peels, candied ginger, cranberries, or pineapple are all good options)

8 ounces almond paste

Adjust an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stack two sheet pans on top of each other (to help the bottom of the scones from browning too quickly), and line the top sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the sugar and orange zest, rubbing the orange into the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the creme fraiche, heavy cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until the flour-coated pieces are the size of peas. Add the wet ingredients, and fold with a spatula until just combined. Add the dried fruit, gently folding it into the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead four to six times, until it comes together, adding flour as necessary, as the dough will be sticky. Pat the dough gently into a square and roll it into a 12-inch square (again, dusting with flour as necessary). Fold the dough in thirds, similar to a business letter. Fold the short ends of the dough in thirds again, making a square. Transfer it to a floured sheet pan or plate and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, roll the almond paste into a square, roughly 12 inches.

Return the dough to the floured surface, roll it into a 12-inch square, and place the rolled almond paste on top. Fold the dough in thirds. Place the dough seam-side down and gently roll the dough int a 12-inch-by-4-inch rectangle.

With a sharp knife, cut it crosswise into four equal rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally into two triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared sheet pan.

Brush the tops of the triangles with a little heavy cream, making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides, and sprinkle the tops generously with sugar. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are light golden brown. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the scones cool for 10 minutes before serving. Scones are best eaten the same day they are made.

To freeze scones: Once the unbaked scones are cut into triangles, freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan. When the scones are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag. They will keep in the freezer for 2 weeks. Bake as directed, adding a few minutes to the bake time.

From “Baking for the Holidays” by Sarah Kieffer

Another Sarah Kieffer Recipe to Enjoy: Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

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