Summer marks the beginning of berry season in the Northwest. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, black caps, and of course our huckleberries will all begin to show up as the season progresses.
A few days ago, on a camping trip in Idaho, we stumbled upon a patch of wild strawberries. In size, they were the smaller than a pea, yet surprisingly, bursted with so much strawberry flavor, it was hard to believe the flavor was real and not manufactured. It was as if all the strawberry flavor of a regular sized strawberry was packed into their tiny little bodies, they were so intense and delicious.
If you live in the Spokane area, fresh ripe strawberries are ready to be picked at Knapps Farm in Green Bluff which I hope to do in the next few days. As with all produce, the longer they are left to ripen on the vine, the more flavor they will pack. So if you can pick something yourself, do it!
The next best option is to go to your local farmers market. Here produce is picked right before it is sold, given time to ripen on the vine. Much of the produce that finds it way to our grocery stores have been picked early for travel, ripening off the vine, producing a fruit or vegetable that often lacks in flavor and vibrancy.
In the Inland Northwest, berries can also be found in the wild. Most of us are familiar with huckleberries, but another berry that gets overlooked are wild black caps. They look deceivingly like blackberries, but are actually a wild black raspberry. In flavor, they differ from both raspberries and blackberries. Gourmet Foragables should have some in the next couple weeks at local markets if you are interested in trying them.
This scone recipe came about when I ended up with extra blackberries after a catering event, and wanted to use up some extra sourdough starter in the fridge. Let me say right away, you don’t need sourdough starter for this recipe -yogurt or sour cream can easily replace it – but if you have starter on hand, and want to use it for something else besides bread, it gives the scones a good robust flavor. This recipe would also work well with wild black caps, strawberries, raspberries or huckleberries.
So depending on where you live and what is available, feel free to use what you can get your hands on.
A little tip.
When making berry scones, an easy way to make them so you can actually see the berries after they are baked is to line a cake pan with saran wrap. Place a layer of fresh berries on the bottom of the pan. (There are also berries in the scone dough as well).
Then gently press in your scone dough over the berries. Freeze for a few hours. Invert, then cut into wedges. This way, the berries are on the top of the scone. Cutting them into wedges when frozen makes it easy to get uniform pieces. If the dough is too hard to get the knife through, just let thaw for 15-20 minutes on the counter.
A baking tip.
Whenever you follow a recipe calling for flour, make sure to mix the container of flour before measuring, fluffing it up. If flour sits for too long in the bag or canister, it will settle and get heavy and dense. Giving a quick mix with a wooden spoon will add air to it and will ensure that you don’t end up with too much flour in the recipe.
The basic recipe is easy, just read it over once over before starting.
Make sure to use cold butter, and don’t leave out the lemon zest.
Don’t overwork the dough, which will release the gluten in the flour and cause the scones to be chewy.
Feel free to add seeds, nuts, or even cooked quinoa for some added protein.
Place wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 16-20 minutes.
2 1/2 cups flour ( see tip above)
2 C Fresh or frozen Blackberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter- sliced into 8 pieces
1 cup sourdough starter or sour cream or plain greek yogurt ( or soy yogurt)
1/3 C milk or cream (plus more if necessary)
lemon zest of one lemon
1 beaten egg, for brushing, optional
1/4 C Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Cup powdered Sugar
1 T butter (optional)
Line a 8 inch cake pan with plastic wrap and fill with 2 Cups blackberries. If your berries are very tender, freeze before hand, this way they will hold their shape a little better.
In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar and lemon zest. Pulse in cold butter until mix resembles course sand. In a small bowl mix milk and sourdough starter ( or sour cream or yogurt) together. Add starter mixture to the food processor and pulse until it just forms a ball ( just a few times) adding a little more milk only if necessary. Dough should be heavy and thick. Don’t over work.
Spread the dough over the blackberries and press down gently, into all the corners. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer over night, or for 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F. Remove from freezer, remove saran, invert on cutting board. Let sit 15-20 minutes or longer until thawed enough to cut. Cut into 8 equal size pie shape wedges. Brush with beaten egg (optional). Place on parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.
While baking, make glaze. Stir sugar into lemon juice in a small pot on the stove until dissolved. Whisk in butter (optional). Set aside. Drizzle over warm scones.
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 4 hours freeze time
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 4 hour 40 mins