Adding fresh, tart cranberries to these scones makes them a true fall treat. Like traditional British tea cakes these are only lightly sweetened; they’re perfect slathered with butter or fruit preserves.
Scones are best served the day that they are baked. Even if you store them in an airtight container, they’ll soften and lose their crisp exterior. Bake these the day you plan to eat them or freeze them for up to 1 month, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
If you want to bake the scones the same day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you mix the dough. Then, after you cut the dough into wedges, arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan, brush their tops with cream, sprinkle them with coarse sanding sugar, and bake them 15-18 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Then add the butter, mixing just until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces. Add the orange zest and mix just enough to combine.
Turn the mixer off, remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir the cranberries into the dry mix by hand.
Put the egg into a 2-cup measuring cup and add enough heavy cream so that you have just under 1 cup of liquid (you will need approximately ¾ cup heavy cream). Whisk the egg and heavy cream together and then pour it into the flour mixture.
Mix the dough a few times with a rubber spatula and then dump it out onto a clean counter. The dough will still be very dry and crumbly and it will not be fully mixed. Using your hands, press the dough together gently a few times until it just comes together.
Shape the dough into a round (about 8 inches in diameter) and, using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Arrange the wedges on a parchment-lined sheet pan, wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
The next morning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the oven reaches the desired temperature, remove the scones from the freezer, brush their tops with some heavy cream, and sprinkle them with coarse sanding sugar before baking approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown.