February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Simply the Best

Homemade scones are worth the calories in the morning

Other nuts and dried berries can be used in these scones. (Kate Lawson / The Detroit News)

Some of my favorite pantry staples are dried fruit and nuts. I stock up on dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries, along with almond, walnuts, pecans and pistachios from Costco so that when the baking spirit strikes — or I simply want some scattered on my oatmeal — I will never be without.

I have pretty much given up eating pastries for breakfast — it makes me hungrier before lunch, and I’d rather spend the calories on a decadent dessert. That said, when I do indulge, scones are without a doubt my favorite morning baked good, and I love them even later in the day with a cup of tea.

I see the monster-sized scones in coffee shops and bakeries, and once in awhile I give in and am never satisfied. So I decided to find my own recipe, one that I could swap the fruits and nuts when the mood struck and use orange zest in place of the lemon. The result was perfect the first time I tried it (I adapted a recipe from “Homemade With Love” by Jennifer Perillo) and the size of the scones was manageable so I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. I’ve loved every version of this recipe, using almonds and blueberries, walnuts and dried cranberries and the cherry and pistachio one here. They will keep for a couple days in an airtight container or can be frozen and reheated before serving.

You can keep your doughnuts, bagels and croissants; I’m stuck on scones.

Cherry Pistachio Scones

½ cup buttermilk plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached flour plus more for dusting board
¼ cup raw or natural sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly grated zest of one lemon (or orange)
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into 12 pieces
½ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
½ cup dried cherries (can substitute dried cranberries)
1 teaspoon coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly beat ½ cup buttermilk and egg together with a fork in small bowl, set aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Add butter pieces and combine with pastry blender, fork or your fingertip until it resembles pebble-sized pieces. Add pistachios and cherries, mix thoroughly. Add buttermilk-egg mixture, stir with a fork until it forms a crumbly dough.

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, knead once or twice so it becomes smoother. Divide dough in half and shape into two circles. Cut each circle into six wedges using a sharp knife. Place scones on ungreased baking sheet, brush with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake 12 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned and tops golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Makes 12.

Per serving: 211 calories; 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 43 percent calories from fat); 27 g carbohydrates; 34 mg cholesterol; 227 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Cherry Pistachio Scones

½ cup buttermilk plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached flour plus more for dusting board
¼ cup raw or natural sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly grated zest of one lemon
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into 12 pieces
½ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
½ cup dried cherries (can substitute dried cranberries)
1 teaspoon coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly beat ½ cup buttermilk and egg together with a fork in small bowl, set aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Add butter pieces and combine with pastry blender, fork or your fingertip until it resembles pebble-sized pieces. Add pistachios and cherries, mix thoroughly. Add buttermilk-egg mixture, stir with a fork until it forms a crumbly dough.

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, knead once or twice so it becomes smoother. Divide dough in half and shape into two circle. Cut each circle into six wedges using a sharp knife. Place scones on ungreased baking sheet, brush with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake 12 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned and tops golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Makes 12.

Per serving: 211 calories; 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 43 percent calories from fat); 27 g carbohydrates; 34 mg cholesterol; 227 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.

klawson@detroitnews.com