Crowdsourced Cherry Saffron Scones

On a recent trip to HomeGoods, where I bought every attractive thing in my home at bargain prices, I picked up a teeny-tiny jar of saffron threads. I’ve never eaten anything with saffron in it, but for $3, I figured I should try it at least once.

In the most recent Food Network magazine (I get it on my Kindle, on the cheap), there was a series of recipes for goodies with saffron, including one for saffron cream scones. I will cut a mug for a scone, so it seemed like a good place to play with my purchase. Halfway into whipping it up, I realized I was lacking two key ingredients, golden raisins and cooking sherry, so I went to the lovely people and friends of P-Mag at groupthink asking for substitution advice.

I combined bits and pieces of several answers, and ended up replacing the raisins and sherry with oven-dried frozen cherries soaked in balsamic vinegar and vanilla. Sweet mother of scones, readers, did these turn out fantastic. Behold.

Two saffron cherry scones on a plate with whipped cream and dried cherries.
Tart, golden wedges of awesomeness.

Even without relying on my refresh key to get the full scoop on how to proceed, these are a little time-consuming. The extra steps are more than worth it, however, because they’re as delicious as they are pretty.


  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • ¼ t. saffron threads, smooshed lightly
  • 1 t. + 2 T. vanilla extract
  • ½ C. dried tart cherries
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 C. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2¼ t. baking powder
  • ¼ t. Kosher salt
  • 5 T. very cold butter, cut into tiny pieces.


  1. If you’re starting with frozen cherries, like I was, thaw them in a colander in the sink, dab with a paper towel to wick off excess liquid, then slice in half. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper, and bake at 250° F for 45-60 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Turn the oven up to 400°.
  2. Place cream and saffron in a saucepan and heat to a soft simmer (the surface just starts to move a little, but isn’t actively boiling.) Stir frequently. Remove from heat, add 1 t. vanilla,  and set aside. Stir it frequently, so a skin doesn’t form on the top. After twenty minutes, pop it in the fridge for another ten minutes, continuing to stir as needed to prevent buttery cream skin.
  3. By now, your cherries should be cool enough to touch. Drop them in a small bowl with the remaining vanilla and the balsamic vinegar. Add just a pinch of salt, to bring all the flavors together. Let them steep while you prepare the rest of the batter.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add the butter pieces, and smoosh it all together with your hands until most of the butter is mixed in. The mix will be crumbly, like a graham cracker crust.
  6. Add the cherries and the liquid they’re soaking in and work in with a wooden spoon.
  7. Add the cream, holding back about 2 T. worth to brush on top of the scones before baking, and mix until you’ve got a slightly sticky dough that holds its shape.
  8. Form the dough into a ball-like shape, then plop it on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Press it into a round with your hands, then cut it into eight wedges. Pull the wedges apart, then brush the tops with leftover saffron cream. Sprinkle with a little granulated, coarse, or sparkle sugar.
  9. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.
  10. Serve warm.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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