There is a season: A good reason these blackberry scones won’t keep

  • Fresh scones with blackberries and basil are tough to resist. MOLLY PARR

For the Gazette
Published: 8/2/2021 1:18:44 PM

The biggest blackberries I ever saw were at the Hare Krishna temple in Boston, more than 25 years ago. My sister and I loved going when we were teenagers. The service, with its chanting and the swaying robes, was fascinating to watch, and there was always a huge free vegetarian feast that followed the prayers.

The blackberries were the size of a toddler’s fist. I believe they were served in a sweet rice pudding. They were so enormous that my sister and I, to this day, use the term “Krishna berries” when discussing blackberries.

The blackberries in my backyard have been ripening all week long, although none grow quite as big as the Krishna berries. Still, they are very delicious, especially given their proximity and bounty. I can spot the bushes from my kitchen window, so when I’m doing the dishes it’s easy to see when the berries are ready to be plucked.

I’ve gone out three days in a row after doing my lunch dishes to pick ripe berries. I had been wavering between a sweet or savory destiny for them, and ended up making these blackberry and fresh basil scones. The recipe from start to finish takes 20 minutes, which means it’s time to start preheating your oven right now.

These scones are originally from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook; the blog Smitten Kitchen shared the recipe more than a dozen years ago. I think the original recipe called for currants, but I’ve added everything from dried cherries to candied ginger to mine. The dough comes together in seconds in a food processor, although I’ve included directions sans machine as well.

My version of this recipe calls for a half-cup of blackberries as well as a half-cup of basil that’s been rolled and sliced into a chiffonade. I was wavering between mint and basil as the herb here, but I had fresh basil growing in my garden.

I finished these with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar on top. Delicious, but not necessary, so please don’t worry if you don’t have any available. Lemon zest would also be nice, but I promise you they are fantastic as is.

Cream scones with blackberries and basil

Ingredients

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

3 Tablespoons sugar

One half teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into quarter inch cubes

One half-cup blackberries

One-half cup basil, prepared as a chiffonade

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl or work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in blackberries and basil. If using a food processor, remove the cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse for a second 12 times. Add blackberries and basil and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds.

Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion); or b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a three-quarter-inch-thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece, and cutting until dough has been used up.

Place rounds or wedges on an ungreased baking sheet, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

These will keep in a covered container for at least two days, because that’s how long they last in my house before they are all eaten.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to molly.parr@gmail.com.




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