Monday, July 16, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Scones and Why I Love to Bake

I bake something at least once a week.
Often I bake 2 or 3 things a week.
I love baking.
I love recipes so familiar that I know the measurements by heart.
I love letting my butter soften in the sun on the kitchen windowsill.
I love the way flour feels in my hand when I sprinkle it on the board, before I roll out my dough.
I love the smell that fills my house when things are baking in the oven, and the way the kids come into the kitchen to sniff and say, "it smells sooooo good in here."
I love giving warm baked goods to a friend or neighbor, to someone having a bad day, or just to say, " I love you."
I have always wished I could draw or paint.
To be able to draw a picture for someone seems to me to be one of the most amazing talents to possess.
I can't draw you a picture, but I can bake you a pretty mean loaf of banana bread.
Baking is one of the ways I create.
Baking fills my soul, not just my belly.
Several weeks ago James and I made scones for his book club.
We made one batch with dried strawberries, and then I decided to mix things up a bit.
Inspired by the fresh strawberries sitting on the counter, I chopped some up and added them to the dough.
If you've never tried scones with fresh fruit, I cannot urge you strongly enough to try them.
All too often scones are boring at best, dry and tasteless at worst.
Not so the fresh strawberry scones.
They were so very, very good.
The recipe I used was for cream scones, and the addition of the strawberries made the dough quite wet.
But I rolled it out anyway, cut out the scones, and they baked up beautifully.
They were moist and far superior to the scones with the dried strawberries.
They even met approval from the 8 year olds in the book club.
And you know the younger set can sometimes be hard to please if the treat offered them is not covered in neon frosting or tons of sprinkles.
James said to me when we first tasted them, "Mom, I love you scones."
And I love you, James.  You just scored a million good son points.
But, as good as they turned out, I still wanted to play around with the recipe a bit.
I thought these scones could benefit from some whole wheat flour.
Sometimes I find all white flour to be a little boring, and I like the complexity of taste that comes from the whole wheat flour.

Last week the temperature went up around here and it was not baking weather.
I didn't feel like turning on the oven.
But one morning I got up early, and it was still cool.
Aaron went for a run and the boys rode along on their bikes.
The house was quiet and I thought, "I'm going to make scones."
Scones and coffee sounded like a perfect breakfast.
Tucking a warm scone in my husband's lunchbox sounded pretty great, too.
Remember, baking is one of the ways I say "I love you."
(and I do love you, honey.)
I used the whole wheat flour this time.
I also cut the strawberries in a smaller dice, and used less of them.
As a result, the dough was a lot less wet.
There were a lot of loose, dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl.
But I was able to incorporate them into the dough when I patted it together with my hands on a floured cutting board.
For cutting out the scones, I used the top from a canning jar.
And I patted together the leftover scraps to use up every last bit of the dough.
Using whole wheat flour made the scones much darker.
Here are the all white flour scones.
And the whole wheat ones.
Before baking, I brush the tops with a bit of cream and then sprinkle with a bit of sanding sugar.
The scones came out of the oven tender, and moist, and with that nutty undertone that I love.
However, no surprise,  I still want to play around with the recipe.
I might try out some different flours--maybe oat flour or almond flour.
I decided I like the strawberries in a bigger dice, and also like using more of them.
I am going to keep working on this recipe until I get it perfect.
As much as I like baking with the kids and making them a part of the process, mixing up a batch of scones in the quiet, cool morning was such a perfect way to start my day.
Baking goes much faster when I do it by myself.
It's also very relaxing, and not nearly as messy.
I won't give up on baking with the kiddos, but I think this early morning baking might start happening more often.
Fresh scones with my coffee for breakfast is quite a treat.
I'll let you know how adding the other flours turn out, and also if I try them with another kind of fruit.
I think a stone fruit like peaches or nectarines would be really delicious.
Until then, here's the recipe as I've used it thus far.
Love from,

Fresh Strawberry Scones (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen's Cream Scone recipe.)
1 and a 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup of heavy cream
1 and a 1/2 cups fresh strawberries cut in a medium dice

Heat oven to 425
Put all dry ingredients into large bowl or food processor
Whisk or pulse ingredients to mix, 6 times
Scatter butter over dry ingredients in food processor, and pulse about 12 times until flour mixture resembles large, coarse crumbs
If using pastry cutter, cut the butter in about 12 times until flour mixture resembles coarse, large crumbs
Transfer flour mixture from food processor to a large bowl
Add berries
Add heavy cream
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently mix the dough for 30 seconds until dough comes together slightly
Turn out onto floured counter top or cutting board.
Gently pat/knead the dough together, being sure to incorporate all the loose, dry crumbs from the bottom of the bowl
Cut scones out in circles that are about 3/4 inch thick and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar
Bake for 12-15 minutes
Cool on a wire rack

And if you want to read about the Kids' Book Club where we first ate these scones, go to Lilly and The Brothers.
They are especially good to eat with clotted cream and jam.


hennymats said...

oh I have to try these! They sound amazing. And the absolute perfect way to start your day. Maybe I am going to take advantage of the baking weather (a.k.a no summer at all) over here and try these, after all, it's still strawberry season.. Yum! Thank you as always for the inspiration.

erin said...

Yum! And apparently a now urgent pregnancy craving:). I love hearing about your process too!

Jemma Smith said...

What a lovely summer recipe -just need some sun and an oilcloth tablecloth and its picnic time! Yum!

cathie3914 said...

will be trying this --- thanks for sharing!!