Do you know what I love about scones?
1. One bowl, one spoon, your hands. Yep, I love anything that requires less than three utensils. What can I say, I'm a wuss when it comes to washing the dishes!
2. Anyone can do it. Scones were probably my first ever baking project (that turned out successfully - we won't talk about what came before that, it ain't pretty). Maybe that's why I have a soft spot for them.
3. Quick and freezable. Can I tell you, it takes me about 3 minutes to put scones together, and I can make a big batch and freeze half for unexpected company. Now that's what I call a totally awesome recipe!
4. Hello, delicious! Strawberry, blueberry, raisin, buttermilk, cheddar, herb, and just plain, they are all winners to me. My name is Irene and I'm a scone-aholic.
Because you guys are really important to me, I suffered on your behalf and tried out about six different scone recipes. There were cream scones from Dorie Greenspan's Baking and buttermilk currant scones from Tartine. There were non-traditional scones with eggs and scones so dry I had to practically drown them in Devonshire cream and lemon curd (it was terrible, I'm still scarred). However, one emerged victorious, and it was, strangely, not from a cookbook or an award-winning chef, but one that was hidden in a dark corner of my recipe binder, given to me years ago by a friend. The paper, bent into quarters from being tucked into the pocket of my jeans, just said: "Strawberry scones," followed by a few lines of instruction. I was intrigued. I was curious. And after I made them, I was sold. This is hands down the best scone I have ever tasted, anywhere.
Tender, moist (even on the second day!) and delicately sweet, studded with ruby red strawberries and sparkling with a simple topping of vanilla sugar, oh, these made me so happy! I used buttermilk, which gave them a nice tang to contrast with the sweetness of the strawberries, but I would love a re-match with blueberries and cream or cherries with a sprinkling of cornmeal. There are six left in the freezer now. Do you think I can count myself as "unexpected company"?
(makes 6 large scones or 12 minis)
1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside. Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough. They'll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.
Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter (you may want to use your fingers to be sure butter is evenly mixed into flour). Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.
Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them (this took another 15-20 minutes in my oven, but keep a careful watch and check every 5 minutes - you do not want dry scones!). (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.)