A few years ago, I decided to use some fresh blueberries I had in the freezer in place of the dried cranberries in my regular Cranberry Orange Scone recipe. I was skeptical from the beginning, but hoped that if I was very, very careful in my kneading, I could prevent the blueberries from bursting.
Nope. I ended up with a sticky, weirdly purple dough that baked into floury (I had to add more flour because the blueberry juice made the dough impossible to work with), weirdly purple scones.
Then, maybe two summers ago, Cook's Illustrated magazine printed a recipe that was designed to prevent this very problem. Instead of kneading the berries into the dough, they simply rolled the dough out, put the berries on top, rolled the whole thing up (like you are making cinnamon rolls), shaped it into a rectangular log and cut it into triangles. It was genius! Not only do the berries stay intact, but they are perfectly distributed throughout each and every scone. With the addition of grated frozen butter, each scone is light, airy, and bursting with fresh berry flavor.
This strawberry version of the recipe was actually posted on an old blog I used to write, after I'd found some particularly tasty strawberries at Chicago's Daley Plaza farmer's market. I wrote at the time: "They just came out of the oven, and they are wonderful. They may even be better than the blueberry version." So make some. You'll have scones each morning for the entire weekend, and a few to take to work at the start of the week.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
+ 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Strawberries, Cut Into Small Pieces
+ 10 Tablespoons Frozen Butter
+ 1/2 Cup Skim Milk
+ 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
+ 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
+ 1/2 Cup Sugar
+ 2 Tsps. Baking Powder
+ 1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
+ 1/2 Tsp. Table Salt
+ 1/2 Tbsp. Grated Lime Zest
+ Juice of Half a Lime
First, make sure you have room in your freezer. You'll be putting a lot of things in there.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the berries in the freezer (see?). Using the large-hole side of a box grater, grate 8 tablespoons of the frozen butter into a bowl (keep the bottom of the butter's wrapper on until the end, to have something to hold. If you are worried about your fingers, chop the last bit of butter with a knife.) Put the butter into the freezer. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and set aside.
Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a small bowl and also place in freezer. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lime zest. Add the frozen grated butter and lime juice and mix together until well coated.
Add the milk and sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until combined. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Move the dough onto a very liberally floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and knead a few times, until it forms a ball, adding flour as needed.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Fold the dough just like a business letter: into thirds, the top folded down, the bottom folded up over that. Flip the dough 90 degrees, so the thin end is facing you. Fold the dough like a business letter again, ultimately forming a small square. Keep adding flour, if needed, and use a bench scraper or metal spatula to release any dough that sticks. Put the dough onto a plate and place into the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Take this time to clean up your area, take out an ungreased cookie sheet, and prepare the board for the final steps.
Take the dough and strawberries out of the freezer. Move the dough onto the floured work surface again, and re-roll into a 12-inch square. Spread the strawberries over the dough, making sure to get berries right up to the top, right, and left edges. You can leave about an inch or so at the bottom edge, closest to you, as some berries will move into that space as you roll. Press the berries lightly into the dough. Now, using your bench scraper or spatula, loosen the edge furthest from you from the board and start rolling the dough towards yourself. Keep loosening and rolling all of the dough into a tight log. Turn the dough so the seam faces down, and press the whole thing into a tight rectangle.
Cut the dough in half, then cut each section in half again, forming four squares. Cut each of these sections diagonally, to form eight rectangles. For smaller scones, cut each of these triangles in half again, from the center point to the middle of the long edge. Place the scones onto the large, ungreased cookie sheet and brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of sugar and place them into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they look golden around the edges and tops. Let them sit on a wire rack or large wooden cutting board to cool. Serve with fresh whipped cream and coffee, juice, or milk.
makes 8 Large or 16 Small Scones