Living in the land of the scone, I’ve learned two things:
- They are pronounced skon. Not skohn. And if you mean the Scottish castle, it is pronounced Skoon. So you can have a skon in skoon but never a skohn in skoon.
- They come in 3 flavours only: plain, fruit (which means dried raising/sultanas/currant/an apricot if really lucky), cheese (cheddar, sometimes fancy with chive).
They can of course be delicious, and the best scones I’ve ever had were in England (at the Watts Gallery Cafe to be precise). But for variety, I love the American version of these. The kind you get in your local cafe, cut in wedges and available in all kinds of flavours: blueberry, lemon, ginger, walnut, cinnamon, and in the Autumn, pumpkin of course! They are often made with buttermilk too, and usually eaten on the go with no butter/cream/jam. That probably sounds more like a drawback, but Americans usually reserve that indulgence for a treat when you go somewhere for proper ‘High Tea’ as the Anglophiles like to call it.
Today I was faced with some lockdown dilemmas though – no buttermilk, and also, would my lovely Scottish co-isolater be down with a triangular scone filled with strawberries, the seasonal (and actual) fruit we had to hand? Sometimes things do need to be done a certain way that my crass American background falls short of. Potatoes are never breakfast food, for example, unless made into a potato scone – and entirely different kind of scone that what is discussed here, of course. So I tentatively explained, but was pleased to find that he was intrigued.
And he was rewarded, because these were AMAZING. I’ve never made a strawberry scone (blueberry is my go-to), so I was unsure. But these have a crisp flaky surface while soft inside, with just the right amount of sweet-tart strawberry. And in a nod to our mixed heritage, we did slather just a bit of cream over them (though I did mine on top while he was slightly outraged I didn’t spread it on ‘the bum’). Because strawberries and cream. I mean…
Btw, I made these because we have the most GORGEOUS strawberries in Scotland, best I’ve ever tasted. But I wouldn’t make these if they were overly ripe, I think they would just turn to mush in baking. Do this with really firm, fresh ones. If you get the massive punnets we have around this time of year then you’ll have plenty anyway, this recipe only takes about 6 or 7 medium size ones.
Finally, here is the pro-tip which most will already know if you’ve googled scones (or American biscuits) even once: DO NOT OVERMIX. That’s the trick. As little mixing as possible just to bring the dough together. And they will be lovely. Also – freeze your butter ahead, no less that 30 minutes, and then grate it into your flour at the last possible minute. Even if your recipe says to ‘rub it in’, don’t – your fingers are too warm, and cold butter is they key to light flakiness. I do this all the time now, and even stick things back in the fridge in other recipes (like crusts) if needed to keep the butter cold.
Based on this Martha Stewart recipe for Blueberry-buttermilk scones. I also measured it out with the Imperial measurements, but on my scale and took notes to convert, so this is the right conversion for metric.
- 1 1/2 cups or 200g plain flour
- 1/2 cup or 70g strong white bread flour
- 3 tbs granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 oz (one stick) or 114g cold (from freezer) unsalted butter
- 1 cup strawberries (not too ripe!) cut into blueberry size bites (you could also use blueberries of course, or any other berry, but not too wet.
- 1/2 cup (110g) low-fat buttermilk; or 1/2 cup (110g) semi-skim milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Caster sugar and 1 tbs milk for glazing and sprinkling
- Freeze butter at least 30 minutes ahead, but preferably a few hours.
- Preheat oven to 375f / 190c. Line a sheet with baking paper.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, measure out your milk and add lemon to it, and set aside to curdle (about 5 minutes or so is needed). Add a few drops more juice if it doesn’t seem to be turning a little bit textured.
- Prep your strawberries if needed.
- Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg and the vanilla in a small bowl or measuring glass, set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Grate your butter directly into the flour. I set my bowl on a kitchen scale so I know when to stop. Stir this lightly with a fork, as gently as possible, until it looks like a crumble.
- Add strawberries and stir with fork to coat.
- Drizzle all of the liquid over the mixture, then again use fork to combine. Stir until it just seems to come together for the most part, with just a bit of crumbly flour in a bowl.
- Turn this out onto a clean surface, and using your (clean) hands, pat this all together, kneading gently once or twice (but no more!) to bring it together. Remember you want to mix as little as possible, and your hands are warm. Pat into a 1 inch high round, then cut into 8 wedges.
- Use a turner to pick up each wedge and put on baking tray. Brush each with a little milk (you can also use egg but I think its a waste of an egg since you won’t use it all – pandemic times!), and sprinkle with caster sugar.
- Bake 20 minutes or until just turning golden brown on top.
Eat warm! Serve with gorgeous tea, treat yo self! Delicious plain but you’ll be forgiven for slathering some extra thick or clotted cream on them if you have them. These keep wonderfully though for a couple days in a sealed container, if they last that long.