Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Strawberry Heart Scones

Though there are signs of incipient growth in the garden and my nursery order is expected to arrive any day with its blueberry bare-root plants and asparagus crowns among other goodies, winter's breath in still in the air.  And there remains in the freezer a lot of strawberries from the summer's harvest.  Also there seems to be a holiday, not a particularly holy one, though it does bear the name of a saint, but it's more holely, in the sense that celebrating it traditionally could put holes in your wallet via expensive purchases of red roses and chocolates.  All this has inspired me to warm up the house and cheer up the bread basket with strawberry scones, some of them in the shape of hearts.




I have adapted Smitten Kitchen's recipe.  Deb Perelman's focus is on using juicy, over-ripe, fresh berries which ooze their liquid innards and erupt from the scones while baking, giving forth to sticky, luscious goodness.  I had figured if I did not completely defrost my garden strawberries, perhaps my scones would spurt red lava also.

Alas, I got involved in something else and the berries completely defrosted while waiting for me.  I drained their juice which I then promptly drank, yum, which meant that the berries were way less juicy than fresh.  But still, these scones were lovely and some of the strawberry bits dried out enough to add a nice crunchy texture plus giving an intense burst of flavour resembling a mix of strawberry/dried red currant/raisin here and there.

Ingredients
(If dough is cut about 3/4 inch thick, recipe makes about eighteen 2 1/2 rounds)

  • Flour, all-purpose, 2 1/4 cups*/280 grams
  • Baking powder, 1 T/15 grams
  • Sugar, 1/4 cup*/50 grams
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Butter, sweet, cold, 6 T/85 grams, cut small
  • Sugar, confectioner's, as needed for dusting
  • Strawberries, fresh or slightly thawed, hulled, washed, and chopped, 1 cup*/130 grams 
  • Cream, heavy, 1 cup*/237 ml
*American measure, that is, 8 oz

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/230 degrees C.  Mix well the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a suitably sized bowl.


Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the mixture.


The goal is for the mixture to resemble coarse sand with some bits the size of peas.  It should take no more a minute.


Chop the strawberries.


Stir in the strawberries, making sure they are all well coated with the mixture.


Add the cream.


Mix/fold lightly and gently with a wooden spoon or a flexible spatula.  The less mixing and handling, the better the baked texture will be.


Dump contents onto a work surface.


Knead lightly a few times or just cup/pat into shape.  This should take about thirty seconds.


Flour the board, hands, and rolling pin well, especially if you are using fresh berries and roll out lightly and quickly or pat into shape about 3/4 inch thick.  Using a  floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out using a straight down motion (gives a nice layered edge effect when baked) and place them well apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  I used half the dough to make rounds, and the other half to make three hearts--large, medium, and small.


Paper templates can be used to form heart-shaped scones of various sizes--just fold paper in half and then draw one half of a heart, cut along the outline, and then unfold.  Or if you pat the dough into square shapes, you can snip off bits with a pizza cutter or knife and mould by hand into the right shape.  Gather all scraps to make additional scones.


Bake the rounds for about 15 minutes until edges are well browned and they are wonderfully crusty. Larger shapes will take longer.  Cool on a wire rack.  They taste great warm for sure, but they are pretty good cold too.



To make powdered sugar hearts, fold paper in half, draw one half of a heart, and cut that half out and unfold.  Place the template where you want the confectioner's sugar heart to be and dust with the powdered sugar, pressing it through a small wire mesh.


The large heart developed a fissure, though superficial, right down the centre because it was cut quite thick and acted more like a bread loaf in the oven.  There will be no broken hearts, thank you very much, so I resorted to camouflage.


As for gardening, the major action is happening in my potting room.  I am sterilising pots and trays for preparation for sowing indoors, but also getting ready beds outside before my plant nursery order arrives if the almost constant rain lets me.  As for Dayo, he is mostly keeping indoors as he prefers to be dry.

Sentinel Kitchen Duty:  making sure no sweet butter will get by without testing it is safe for consumption.

Far, faraway, in Duvet Land...

If only the fireplace was lit then everything would be purrfect!

À la prochaine!

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