Like a fledgling flying the nest, I am once again moving house. Not to Manchester for once, or back to London. No, this time my destination is New Zealand.
Yes, it’s quite far. About as far as you can go in fact.
I’ve never lived overseas before. I’ve never even relocated beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Luckily for me, New Zealand has similarities with the UK; similar weather for one, shared phrases, and we all drive on the left-hand side so it’s a good start. That’s not to say I won’t miss a great deal about home – the warmth of a cosy pub, a gut-busting English breakfast, the ramshackle country cottages, and the sheer amount of lush green trees everywhere. Let’s be honest, New Zealand have one or two jaw-dropping landscapes – apparently wherever you are, you’re roughly fifteen minutes away from somewhere breathtakingly beautiful – but, that aside, sometimes I am bowled over by the charm of this little island.
As a tribute to my home country, I have baked something quintessentially English – the scone. For someone who loves baking, and eating said baked items, I’m perplexed why I haven’t published a recipe for scones before now. I mean, I eat them often enough. They are my favourite afternoon treat, the best accompaniment to a cup of tea, heck I even themed my other baking to resemble a cream tea, all that strawberry jam and clotted cream driving me to distraction.
These scones have a twist. We Brits usually like them unadulterated, some people even disavow the innocent sultana-studded scone for its frivolousness, so these aren’t what you’d call traditional. Fresh fruit scones are common-place in American baking yet are relatively unknown across the pond. We love a savoury scone, chive-speckled and golden with cheese, but that’s about as far as our experimentation goes. I suppose when you can have the ultimate indulgence of a scone thickly spread with jam and cream then why bother with any additional fripperies? I’ll tell you why.
Even though we all love that familiar dense chew of a scone, who doesn’t appreciate that sudden juicy bite of a sultana, glacé cherry or even a dried apricot? It elevates the pressure on our jaws and, like the jam and cream, helps the scone slide down that bit easier. With that in mind, pockets of sweet, oozy fresh fruit amongst the crumbly scone is that one step better. The strawberries and raspberries create crannies of moisture and sweetness, almost like pools of jam, lightening the scone’s dense structure. Your respective fruit choices can complement or contrast the sugary jam spread on top; I roughly chopped some sweet-scented strawberries and raspberries to tumble in with the scone mix, staining my hands and the buttery clumps of flour pink, and lending some fresh tartness to the mixture.
As a result, and this may sound like blasphemy to the devout cream tea-lover, the need for clotted cream becomes almost redundant as a mere lick of butter (plus a blob of jam) is enough, without masking the flavours of the baked berries. Of course, that’s not ruling out clotted cream! You can never have too much of a good thing… or so the saying should go. These pink-mottled scones were packed into a plastic tub then bundled along with picnic rugs, quiche and green salad into the car, and we drove to a local garden, roses climbing up outside the greenhouses and apple trees bowed under the weight of red fruit. We picnicked there, serving scones with jam and cream for dessert, chewing in surprised silence at their utter lightness and dolloping them with extra jam. It was a leaving feast after all.
Strawberry and raspberry scones
Adapted from Leiths How To Cook
Makes 6 scones
225g self-raising flour
60g cold unsalted butter
30g caster sugar
150g hulled and chopped strawberries and raspberries
Flaked almonds to sprinkle
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F and sprinkle a little flour over a baking tray.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the cubed butter. Rub the butter and flour together to create rough breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar.
- Throw in the chopped fruit and toss to coat in the buttery flour. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the milk, mixing as you go to form a dough. It won’t require all the milk as the fruit omit a lot of extra moisture so take it slowly. Once you have a soft dough that you can gather together tip it out onto a floured surface.
- Pat to around 3cm thickness. Using a circular cutter or drinking glass cut out scones, re-forming the dough until you have used it all.
- Sprinkle with some flaked almonds and slide into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the scones are golden and well risen. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
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