Nate and I had a lovely morning coffee date on the St. Croix River with these delicious Cranberry Orange scones, hot coffee (thanks to our thermoses!), and a pontoon from Stillwater Boat Club & Rentals. Big thank you to them for partnering with us on this recipe for all of you!
Let me give you a little glimpse into my little town of Stillwater MN, from the river perspective. First I need to tell you that I got to drive a Pontoon. On a river. Without supervision. It was the BEST time!
Scones and coffee while on a river early in the morning truly should be on everyone's bucket list!
Have you ever made a point of heading to the river/lake right away in the morning? There are few others on the river at that time of day, the air is still cool, and everything smells fresh. After this, I'm srsly considering a boat club membership so I can do it often!
Do you know what this is? This is an old swing bridge that is still in use! The bridge swings open to let boats pass and then swings back across to turn into a proper bridge. There is even a man inside the little building that operates it. I thought this was a beautiful sight!
Look closely and you'll see turtles sunning themselves!
Have you heard of the St. Croix Boom Site? Minnesota became a state right here in Stillwater, MN, one of the oldest cities in the state. And, in its day, one of the richest. Stillwater had a HUGE lumber industry during the mid to late 1800's. In fact, we celebrate Lumberjack Days every summer with log rolling and axe throwing and all SORTS of lumber-y things (you MUST check it out. So fun!) They sorted and stored giant logs and lumber before sending them downstream (the St. Croix meets up with the Mississippi).
Now you can stop and visit the site of where a majority of this log sorting took place and check out a small cave not far from the site.
In the same time as the great lumber years, about 25 steamboats made stops along the ST. Croix River before train tracks and roads and all of that. There are 5 steamboats (obs they don't use steam anymore ;)) that you can cruise on. Or take pictures of from your own boat. <---my preference.
This view is courtesy of 252 miles of federally protected riverways known as the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. It is pristine, gorgeous, and I'm SO HERE for this view being in my backyard!
This is the old historic lift bridge that was used until a few years ago when it was replaced with a GIANT and gorgeous new bridge (pics below). The bridge underwent a multi-year long renovation and just reopened to only foot & bike traffic and is part of a 5 mile loop. Pretty dang awesome.
Notice the gondola. I mean...gorgeous!
Fun fact: I live about 5 blocks south of that steeple in an 1880 home. Truly, though, ALL the homes here are old, big, and fantastic. Those lumbermen had cash!
Another fun fact: the Gondola Nationals were held here in Stillwater MN a few years back. 1st: did you know there WAS a Gondola National? 2nd: it might possibly be one of the BEST events to watch. 3rd: always ask where the Gondola Nationals are going to eat and drink after...go there. Those guys are FUN!
Oh hey, look right next to my feet...the new bridge! I might have fallen asleep on the Pontoon, in the sunshine, with my belly full of coffee and scones. So peaceful!
When we left the dock it was filled with boats and pontoons waiting to head out on the water for the day. When we returned a couple hours later...
ALL of them were gone!
Although, this picture of the dock and building is charming as heck and I couldn't be mad about the chance to grab it.
The point, however...if you are at all interested in renting a boat from Stillwater Boat club and Rentals be sure to get online and get your reservation on. Everything is online, no-contact, and frankly...crazy easy!
Local to my area? Go give the Stillwater Boat Club and Rentals a look. The owners are lovely people and I know you'll enjoy it...alot!
In fact, Nate and I have had taken a boat out a few times years and years ago. His parents have one. But getting the boat loaded, in the water, parking the truck and trailer, loading it back up, and keeping it gassed, insured, and maintained is a PAIN...and expensive!
5 minutes. That's all it took and we were out on the river. When we were done they grabbed the boat and said bye. Srsly. THE. WAY. TO. GO. I mean, our coffee was still hot!
Okay, let's talk about the scones I brought out with us on the river. These are a fave recipe that I've been making for years. They are that good.
I use dried cranberries because they are much easier to keep on hand then fresh. However, I recommend using fresh oranges and rosemary if you can.
Soak your dried cranberries in water or vodka for an hour and drain well before using.
When the butter melts in your dough while baking in the oven it creates little pockets where steam expands and helps the dough rise. If you have butter that is melty before you get to the dough to the oven, you lose those pockets of gas expanding, leaving you with a denser, less fluffy scone.
Using cold butter when making scones (and then freezing the dough) ensures you have as little melting BEFORE the dough hits the oven...resulting in a buttery and flaky pastry!
Don't get crazy with forming and rolling your scone dough. The less you handle it, the better. Simply pat it into a circle about 9 inches in diameter, as evenly thick as you can get it, and slice it into eight pie wedges. Freeze it for 30 minutes, then bake.
Tip: Freeze your scone dough for an hour or so before baking to get the ultimate in light and flaky scones!
Have you played the Super Mario board that has the little ghosts that will attack you if you turn your back to them for too long? As long as you are looking at them they stay where they are but the minute you turn your back... BAM! My family is little ghosts when I'm baking in the kitchen. DON'T TURN YOUR BACK or they will eat your goodies.
You think that I'm crazy with the vodka addition to the glaze, don't you? Try it sometime and you'll be a believer. Vodka adds a wonderful kick to the glaze that cuts a bit of the sweetness from the scones out, in the best possible way.
Truth? I usually skip the glaze on these scones. I find them to be sweet enough, as is and I'm trying to eliminate unneeded sugar from our diet. However, my neighbor gave these an 8.4 without the glaze and another a 9 with the glaze. So...
Cranberry Orange Scones
- 3 cups flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup chilled butter cut into pieces
- 2 lg eggs
- ½-2/3 cup cold buttermilk for a quick substitution, see below--start with ½ cup and add more as needed if the dough feels too dry. During the summer, you won't need as much. In the winter, you'll need more.
- 1 tbsp tab vanilla
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tab grated orange peel
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped for dried, use ⅓ teaspoon.
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 2 tab vodka optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange peel, and rosemary into large bowl.
- Add butter and mix into flour mixture...gotta use your fingers! You want it to look like crumbs.
- Mix in cranberries.
- In a separate bowl mix buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs together.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the hold together (often I have to use floured fingers for the final mixing--don't use your hands too much because the warmth will cause the butter to melt!)
- Put the dough onto a floured counter and knead a few times so it sticks together. About 4-6 times.
- Form the dough into a circle about 9 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges. (if you have time pop the wedges into the freezer for about an hour)
- Put the wedges onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
- If you are skipping the glaze, brush the scones with milk and sprinkle with sugar. If using the glaze skip this step.
- Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes.
- Mix all ingredients together.
- If necessary, to achieve needed thickness add more powdered sugar.
- Drizzle the glaze on top of the cooled scones.