I couldn’t decide what I wanted my first actual recipe post to be. Should I go with an all-American dessert, like classic cookies or a traditional layer cake? A fancier pastry? Something seasonal, like sorbet, ice cream, or a summery fruit pie or cobbler? Hmm… or what about something chocolate, always a winner? I finally settled on starting at the beginning.
Starting at the beginning of the day, that is, with breakfast. In particular, these mixed berry scones. Scones are one of my favorite things to make. For starters, they’re breakfast goodies, which already makes them a favorite in my book. Also, at a groggy, semiconscious state in the morning, sometimes I just can’t be sure I’ll remember to take out butter to soften in advance for breakfast. Scones, unlike cakes which require forethought with room-temperature butter, are best when baked upon a whim with the butter being cold and straight from the fridge. Finally, the dough comes together quickly, and the shorter baking time than some things (like quick bread or coffee cake) ensures that they are about as close to instant gratification as you can get.
These raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry scones are adapted from a great sour lemon scone recipe from the Baked cookbook. The lemon scones are perfectly good by themselves, but I wanted to incorporate a summery twist. Enter a trio of jewel-colored berries. I excavated these berries from the freezer, but fresh would be even better. A glazing of buttermilk and a scattering of raw sugar creates a crisp top which contrasts with a buttery, tender interior studded with sweet-tart mixed berries. I added vanilla for a floral sweetness but kept some of the lemon zest for a subtle brightness. Even with the changes, I thoroughly enjoyed these—perhaps even more than the original recipe.
Mixed Berry Scones
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
The original recipe for sour lemon scones calls for 1 1/2 cups of butter (that’s a whopping 3 sticks). I’m sure that would be ridiculously good, but not wanting to be quite so decadent for breakfast, I cut out 6 tablespoons. You can probably reduce the butter even further to 1 cup. Or, use the full amount.
Makes about 12 large scones
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (18 tablespoons/2 1/4 sticks), cubed and chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk plus 1/4 cup (for brushing the tops)
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries)
raw sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl or on a cutting board, rub the sugar with the lemon zest until the zest has released its oils and the mixture is fragrant.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, lemon sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, and toss gently to coat the butter. Use your fingertips or a pastry blender to rub the butter into the flour until incorporated. Don’t overwork the dough; some pea-sized chunks of butter should still remain.
In a small bowl (or in the measuring cup with the buttermilk), whisk together 3/4 cup of buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently toss the dough together with a wooden spoon or spatula until it just begins to hold together. Add the berries, and gently stir them into the dough. Dump the rough dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead it with your hands to incorporate any unmixed bits of flour. Shape the dough into 1 large disc about 1-1 1/2 inches high. Keep in mind that the taller your scones, the fewer you’ll get (though they’ll be larger).
Cut the disc into circles using a cookie cutter. Gently push together any scraps to cut out as many scones as possible. Place scones onto the baking sheet. Brush the tops with the 1/4 cup of buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Feel free to adjust the oven temperature to 400°F for more browning, if needed.
Transfer the scones to a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Scones are always best the first day; however, they aren’t bad when kept in an airtight container for up to two days and then toasted and buttered.