Cherry, lemon and almond hot cross scones


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I love a good hot cross bun at Easter, but they can be quite time-consuming to make. These scones fulfil the same function as a hot cross bun – they are warm, not too sweet, and a satisfying treat for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea – but they are much quicker and easier to make. For me these little scones, with their juicy cherries, fresh lemon tang and marzipan hint of almonds, are perfect for the onset of spring, anticipating the bounty of summer to come. However, you could swap the cherries and lemon zest for candied peel, sultanas and currants for a true ‘hot cross’ flavour, if you like. You can whip these up in a few minutes for afternoon tea; they’re lovely and filling, but not too sweet, and also freeze well, so you could get organized and prep some now for Easter.

The lemon glaze for these comes together in a few seconds, and can be artfully drizzled rather than piped over the scones, making them even easier than buns. It adds a lovely bright sweetness to the delicate spiced crumb, which just begs to be pulled apart and slathered with butter and – if you’re feeling really decadent – jam and clotted cream. These would be amazing with some cherry or raspberry jam, I reckon, and a nice change to the usual hot cross buns that become so ubiquitous around springtime.




Hot cross scones

For the cross

Preheat the oven to 210°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the salt, caster sugar and mixed spice
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the cherries and lemon zest
In a small jug, whisk together the egg, milk and almond extract
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in almost all of the milk mixture, reserving 2 tsp for later. Mix with your hands until the dough just about comes together – don’t overmix
Place the dough on a floured work surface and flatten into a disc around 2.5cm in thickness
Use a scone cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 5cm apart. Repeat using any offcuts until any remaining dough is used up
Brush the remaining egg and milk mixture over the tops of the scones. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds
Bake for 10–15 minutes until risen and light golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack
For the glaze, mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to form a fairly stiff icing. Use a teaspoon to drizzle this, in a cross shape, over each scone. Enjoy the scones spread with butter, or jam and cream
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