Jun 012014
 

Strawberry cream scones

For the last week, through the wonder of u-pick farms, I have been awash in multiple gallons of fresh strawberries. This is in no way a terrible predicament, though I have been plagued by the question of what do I do with all of them??? I started simple by throwing them in a fruit salad and making strawberry-blueberry shortcake — pretty basic, but I figured that basic (and easy) was a good way to go when they were at peak freshness. Next came a pie (whose filling was delicious but whose crust we shall never speak of again, except to exclaim that, when given flour, butter, lard, salt, sugar, water, and vodka, I can make a kick-ass crust, but when I try to actually use a pre-made crust, utter ruin rules the day) and the decadent grown-up flavors of Jeni’s recipe for roasted strawberry buttermilk ice cream. And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t repeat my strawberry bourbon-barrel freezer jam.

But this morning I finally got to try my hand at baking with the berries. A friend of mine hooked me on scone-baking several months ago, and though I’ve been in remission recently, I decided to succumb to the bug once again. There were plenty of fancy and complicated recipes out there, but I was looking for something that was a marriage of the simple goodness of a basic cream scone with plenty of room for strawberries to shine. Once again, Smitten Kitchen came through and delivered this gem. So if you find yourself in a situation where you might need to swim Scrooge McDuck-style through a glut of strawberries and you would like to vary from the technique that my tot is demonstrating below, may I suggest that you give this marvelous scones a try?

Leah and her strawberry

Strawberry cream scones and biscuits
Only very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 8 scones or maybe 12-ish biscuits

Notes:

  • This really shines with fruit that is slightly over-ripe. The berries break down during baking and release their juices wonderfully that way. If you can, get your fruit from a farmers’ market, farm stand, or u-pick farm, because that fruit will age much better than supermarket strawberries.
  • To prep one day ahead: prepare all the way through step 4, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, then bake them the next day. To prep more than one day ahead: once the dough is one the parchment, freeze until solid, then place the dough pieces in a freezer zip-top bag. When it comes time to bake them, you don’t need to thaw them first; simply add 2-3 minutes to the baking time.

You will need:

  • 2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, plus a bit extra for sprinkling on the scones if you’d like
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (about 130 grams) chopped very ripe strawberries (I quarter small or medium ones and further chop larger ones)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus a bit extra for brushing the scones if you’d like

To prepare:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl that is wide enough for you to stick both hands in and work the dough within, combine and whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter in using your favorite method, be it a pastry blender, two knives, or grating frozen butter into the bowl until the butter is in tiny pea-size bits. (Or, like me, you could pulse everything together in the work-bowl of a food-processor if you don’t like cutting butter in. You’ll still have to transfer the mixture to the large bowl to work in the next two ingredients.)
  3. Add the strawberries to the bowl (if you were using the food-processor in the previous step, you should have jettisoned it by now) and stir into the flour to coat the fruit well. Stir in the cream and gently combine with a spatula until you’ve incorporated all the cream you can. When you reach that point, put your hands in the bowl and continue to gently combine until everything is mixed in, but do not over-mix: it is ok if the ingredients seem unevenly distributed.
  4. Flour your counter-top and transfer the dough. Add a bit of flour to the top of the dough, and then press or roll the dough into either a round or a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick.
    1. To make scones: use a knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer the dough pieces to the parchment, leaving space between each, and, if you like, brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
    2. To make biscuits: Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter or top edge of a drinking glass, pressing straight down and not twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the parchment, leaving a couple inches between each. Re-roll/pat the remaining dough and cut as before. The dough may be wetter than it was before because of the strawberry juice, but that’s ok.
  5. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until the edges are bronzed and the top is starting to color a bit. Cool in the pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Try to resist eating them until cool, but better people than I have failed at this task.

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