tea o’clock: strawberry-lemon scones
I make scones each morning at work, and absolutely love the process. For years, they’ve been one of my favourite things to bake: ridiculously minimal work for maximum tastiness! The part of me that’s half Brit latches on something fierce to a cup of tea and a scone. And the kids are just as crazy about them (particularly when I roll out the clotted cream, or whipped cream in a pinch.)
When it comes to scone-making, people dig their heels in about ingredients: those who add eggs and those who don’t; cream v. milk; raisins v. currants. But despite those preferences, one thing remains constant—the use of a light hand. Combining dry ingredients with wet should be done with as few strokes as possible, and always by hand. Mixers toughen the dough. I like to pat mine into a round and cut it into segments. This minimizes handling of the dough and helps to ensure tender scones.
In a mixing bowl, stir together your dry ingredients (measurements found below): flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add brown sugar and lemon zest and combine. Rub cold butter into dry ingredients by hand, until it forms pea-sized pieces. Pour in buttermilk and gently stir dry and wet ingredients until just combined. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and add fresh strawberries. (When using dried fruit, it can be added before buttermilk.) Gently knead 3-4 times. Pat into a round 1/2″ thick and cut into 6 triangles. Bake at 400 F for approximately 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
Let’s talk buttermilk:
When combined with baking powder and/or baking soda, buttermilk tenderizes and lightens a batter. Its effect is incomparable. But what to do if you don’t have any on hand? (Perhaps you don’t make a gazillion pancakes like I do!). Or, maybe you don’t want to buy an entire carton for a single recipe. You can make a perfectly reasonable substitute at home by using one of these methods:
- Add one Tablespoon lemon juice or unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup. Add milk until it measures one level cup. Stir and let stand 10 minutes. Milk will be slightly curdled.
- Combine 1/2 cup plain yogourt (not low-fat/no-fat) and 1/2 cup milk.
- Combine 1/2 sour cream and 1/2 cup milk.
Make yourself an enormous pot of tea, switch off the world … and enjoy!