Royal strawberry scones
I love scones and I adamantly believe they are fitting for nearly every occasion. Breakfast, snack, post-dinner. Scones are versatile, though best consumed shortly after preparation, which may limit their use slightly. And often, they’re so good they don’t last very long anyhow.
As a tribute to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding Friday (I actually couldn’t care less) I decided to make a batch of strawberry scones. In the past I’ve made blueberry scones with great success, but strawberries were on sale at my local Dominick’s, and they looked too juicy to pass up. $2.50 for a pound of strawberries in April in metropolitan Chicago is not a bad deal. I am eagerly awaiting the summer months, when berries are plentiful and inexpensive.
Still, I was somewhat tentative when it came to working with strawberries. After all, blueberries have a tendency of exploding with flavor when heated, whilst strawberries are prone to drying out. The trick was going to be keeping them juicy and keeping them small enough so as not to cause structural difficulties with the scone.
Mindful of their lasting power and my own kitchen limitations, here’s a recipe that will yield eight to ten scones, depending on your own preference for size.
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar, dark or light
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, chilled (do not allow to soften or handle excessively!)
1/3 to 1/2 pound fresh strawberries, to your liking, well-diced
3/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
granulated white sugar, to top scones with and for strawberries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional, for tartness)
1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease baking sheet with butter. Typically, most scone recipes don’t call for this, but I like it. I think it the juices of the strawberry could cause sticking problems, and I like the crispness on bottom that butter offers.
2) Blend flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar. With a fork, take 1/4 cup of butter and break into chunks. Then, cut butter into flour mixture. This will be long and arduous. Break and mix butter in, with wrist-motion, using the fork, until fully blended. After dicing strawberries, mix with a sprinkling of sugar and carefully add to flour mixture.
3) In a smaller bowl, whisk together cream and egg. Add vanilla. Add lemon juice, if desired.
4) Add liquid mixture to dry, and mix with rubber spatula, taking care to not over-handle the dough.
5) On a well-floured cutting board, take dough and break into two or three rounds. The idea is not necessarily to have them perfectly shaped. The dough should be sticky, soft, but still pliable and easily molded. But sticky. It will be sticky. With a sharp, serrated knife, take rounds and score into quarters. Then, cut. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Something I’ve considered is the inclusion of grated lemon atop the scones–I will have to experiment with this in the future. Remove scones one at a time (some peeling might be required) and place on baking sheet. They won’t expand as cookies do, so they may be placed relatively close together.
Scones in progress.
6) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned on the edges and at the top, just slightly. Remove from oven, allow to cool on baking sheet. No need for cooling rack, just transfer to a plate. Wrap with tin foil to keep longer.
7) My preference is to slice these scones length-wise and apply a bit of butter. Very good, indeed.