Monday, May 5, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Scones

I can’t believe I got up early on both Saturday and Sunday to go to the Waverly and Baltimore Farmers Markets, respectively. Saturday’s trip was exclusively for dairy, and Sunday was the opening of the larger Baltimore Farmers Market (the one under the JFX). I really love going to the JFX market – waking up early, perusing the market, and walking home with bags full of produce makes me feel productive, and, for some reason, walking to the market and then walking home with heavy bags of produce reminds me of being in NYC – probably because one of the aspects of living in NYC is that you have to lug all of your purchases home because you don’t have a car.

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
(makes 8)

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.


Amanda said...

This looks like way better than strawberry-rhubarb pie!

Vanessa said...

OMG!!! I love the way these scones look...crisp, buttery on the outside and tender and delicious inside...I'm such a geek about scones and this is a new technique for me...I can't wait to give this a try.

malini said...

Yeah, you could make this for me when you come home. It looks delicious.

xiao zhu said...

can you believe i've never had rhubarb?! i have no idea what it tastes like. but i think this scone recipe would be a good starting place! looks great!

Fearless Kitchen said...

I like the idea of rolling out the dough and then adding the fruit. I wouldn't have thought of it, but it does help the fruit stay intact.

strawberriesinparis said...

the rolling process sounds confusing! But I definitely need to use this recipe next time I have houseguests!

Pigtown-Design said...

Roopa.. these look wonderful! We used to have stewed rhubarb with sliced bananas when we were children. With an oat biscuit on the side, it was perfect.

John said...

I went to the JFX Farmer's Market for the very first time on Sunday. I got there very late but there were still enough interesting things there for me to get a bag of shallots ($2), a basket of smallish apples (also $2), a horseradish pickle on a stick ($1) and two grilled chive dumplings ($3). What else did I buy? I totally forget. I think I only went with $10 anyway.

Chef Erik said...

Get out of here with this! Looks super duper delish. I've never used rhubarb, didn't even know how to spell it. This seriously looks yum, great recipe.

Aaron K said...


M^2 said...

These were absolutely delicious. The rhubarb is quite tart before baking, but it compliments the sweetness of the strawberries and dough perfectly.

malini said...

Roopa made these scones for Sunday brunch when she came home for mother's day. They were absolutely delicious along with asparagus frittata and citrus fruit punch. I haven't eaten rhubarb before and I didn't know they taste so good in scones along with strawberries.

lissi said...

I just made these and they are super delicious! Thank you!

One thing I added was a little sprinkling of coarse salt on top with the brown sugar before putting it in the it a sweet/salty coating on top. I also didn't have milk so I used just yogurt.

shaun said...

I love this recipe- I've made 3 batches so far and everyone loves them! I substituted a full cup of milk but added some raspberry vinegar to make my own "buttermilk" - They were tender and flavorful! Great Recipe! Thanks!

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