It’s not quite summer yet, and the market is still overflowing with spring produce: asparagus as far as the eye can see, spring onions, greens, and herbs are the most abundant right now. Both markets were selling strawberries from North Carolina, and there was but one vendor at each market selling rhubarb . I had to get the rhubarb because it’s going to be out of season soon and I wanted to make a pie with it. So of course I got strawberries to go with the rhubarb – they’re a classic pair in pies (although I prefer peach with rhubarb, but it’s not peach season yet, so strawberries it was).
(In other news, I am totally irritated that none of the vendors at either of the Baltimore markets sell ramps. I asked a guy who was selling all kinds of chives and scallions at the JFX market about this and he said that the closest place to get them is at the Dupont Circle market in DC. I love ramps, but they are not worth an almost 2-hour round trip drive. Are people in Baltimore just not into ramps? How come no one sells them here????)
Anyhow, with strawberries and rhubarb in hand, I ventured into the kitchen, intent on making a classic strawberry rhubarb pie. But then I realized that that was kind of boring (albeit very tasty), and I wasn’t in the mood to be boring. Because I have the attention span of a fruit fly (or what would probably be called ADD these days), I took a few steps over into my living room (my apartment is tiny) and began to clean up the mess of magazines on my coffee table. I ran across an old copy of Cook’s Illustrated and remembered that it contained the recipe for the best scones in the universe, and that’s how I decided to make these scones.
The CI recipe calls for a few novel techniques in scone making: 1) grating frozen butter to create small pieces, and 2) rolling out the dough, folding it up, rolling it out again, sprinkling it with fruit, and then rolling it up and flattening it out before cutting. When I made the scones last summer, I thought the butter thing was kind of annoying, but their method for the handling of the dough was brilliant – the scones came out really light and soft and the fruit wasn’t crushed. So, with the CI method in mind and in hand, I set out to make these sweet-tart late-spring scones.
Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Scones
Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Scones
Scant 1 cup chopped rhubarb (½” pieces, from 3-4 medium-sized stalks)
2/3 cup strawberries (½” pieces, from about 6 medium-sized strawberries)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold
½ cup whole milk
½ cup lowfat yogurt
¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
Spread the chopped strawberries into a single layer on a plate. Place the plate in the freezer.
Using a sharp knife, cut the stick of butter into very small pieces.* Separate the pieces of butter and put them into a bowl; put the bowl in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Whisk together the milk, yogurt, and ginger in a small bowl and set it aside. Add the flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the frozen butter to the bowl and use a large spoon to toss the butter in the flour. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour to break up any large pieces – this should take no longer than 15 seconds. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl and mix with a large spoon until all of the flour is just incorporated – you don’t want to overwork the dough.
Generously flour a large clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead it a few times until the dough loses its stickiness. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 12” square. Fold the dough into thirds by folding the top third down and then folding the bottom third up (like a letter) to form a rectangle. Fold the left third into the center and then right third into the center to form a 4” square. Transfer the dough to a plate and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. (If at any point the dough sticks when you lift it, put it down and then loosen it by scraping under the dough with an offset spatula or a butter knife.)
Lightly flour the work surface and transfer the dough from the freezer to the work surface. Roll it out into a 12” square. Evenly distribute the rhubarb over the dough. Remove the chopped strawberries from the freezer and evenly distribute it over the rhubarb. Press down on the fruit to slightly embed it in the dough. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar over the fruit. Roll the dough into a log (like rolling a jelly roll), rolling it over if necessary so that the seam is at the bottom. Press the dough into a rectangle that is 12” long x 4” wide. Cut the dough into 4 squares, and then cut each square diagonally to form two triangles.
At this point, you can either bake the scones or save them to be baked later.
To bake immediately: place the scones onto a plate and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Transfer the scones to the parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each one with either cream or melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the scones. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
To bake later: you can
1) Refrigerate the scones overnight (to bake the next morning) – place the scones on a plate and cover well with plastic wrap. Bake the scones as directed above; or
2) Freeze them to bake at some later time – place the scones on a plate and freeze for 20 minutes. Wrap each scone in plastic wrap and then put them into an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. Bake the scones as directed above, adding 5-7 minutes to the baking time.
*Here’s how I did it: cut the stick of butter lengthwise into 4 long slices. Keeping the stick of butter intact, roll the stick 90 degrees so that the side facing up is uncut. Cut the stick of butter again into 4 long slices so that you have 16 thin sticks of butter, making sure to keep the stick of butter intact. Now cut the stick into small slices so that each slice is made up of 16 small pieces. Alternatively, you can use the method described in the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.