Today the rain started lightly, tapping at the window to wake me up early. It's coming down in sheets now. Every time a car passes outside on the dark street, it sounds mysterious and hushed, swooshing through the wet puddles. I'm finishing a glass of wine and sampling a slice of babka, which I made today using a recipe I'm playing around with (more on that soon).
The city can't decide whether it wants to let spring in. Some days still chill me to my bones, as the weather clings to winter. It's windy on alternating days, and piles of dirty snow still line the sidewalks. Then we'll get a burst of sun -- I can wear a t-shirt and cafe owners rush to put out their outdoor tables. I can almost feel the coldness of a sip of iced coffee.
In between the two seasons is a tricky place to be, cooking-wise and, okay let's face it. emotionally (OR IS THIS JUST ME, please say no). Rather than stick with apples and hefty, rich winter desserts or swing wildly and enthusiastically into the whole ice cream/strawberries/frozen grape territory, let's play it safe and hang out somewhere in the middle. Scones. Scones are such amiable baked goods: humble and versatile and just as happy being sweet or savory. They're nice in the morning, split and toasted with a bit of butter, or for dessert, warmed up a bit and doused in a glug of cream.
I use the master scone recipe from King Arthur, which is my absolute favorite. I tweak it a bit to suit the ingredients or flavors I'm using -- this week I was in the mood for fruit and citrus and something light and bright already! You can use fresh or frozen berries here: Fresh will bleed less into your batter, so if you care about it looking less messy and streaky, stick with fresh. But if it isn't quite summer yet (ahem, New York in March), frozen are more ideal as the fresh blueberries in my market are rather wan, flavorless behemoths.
Lemon Blueberry Scones
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 3/8 cups flour (210 grams if using a scale)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Cut in the butter using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly and the butter is in small pieces the size of peas or smaller.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and half-and-half. Stir the berries into the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and mix with a fork until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface (I usually just turn it out onto my parchment-lined baked sheet), and fold it over on itself a few times, pressing it into a disc as you go. The disc should be about 2 inches thick.
Place the disc on your parchment-lined baking sheet, and slide the entire sheet into the freezer. Freeze for at least 10 minutes or up to 30. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the disc into 8 wedges and separate them slightly so they have room to expand as they bake. Brush with a little milk, and sprinkle with raw sugar or sparkling sugar if you like.
Bake the scones for about 20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before diving in!