This past Christmas, my husband’s sister had the idea to surprise their parents with a trip to England. For as long as I’ve known my dear father-in-law, he’s wanted to travel there, so it took little effort to consider cashing in our points, and settling in to plan. It’s been several years since our first trip there, and it remains the only place where I’ve vacationed that I didn’t want to leave. Although we barely saw London that trip, we did manage to cover about 750 miles driving through Devonshire, Wales, and the Cotswolds. My husband’s white-knuckled grip never completely adjusted to the need to drive on the opposite side of the road, but we did find maneuvering the roundabouts hilarious after a time, rarely missing a turn off when one was called for. Although it was equally terrifying to be the navigator on the trip at times, I was more likely to enjoy endless views of rolling green hills and quaint villages, each more picturesque than the last.
As much as we think of scones being breakfast fare here, we only had them once on our trip, and not for breakfast. We happened into a small restaurant just before closing time in Harlech, Wales, after a day of sightseeing and castle exploration. We had some tiny scones and other treats with the cream tea the staff was kind enough to serve even though they’d clearly finished for the day. It was a perfect break considering we’d come from Conwy, in Northern Wales, early that morning, and were headed to Milebrook House near Knighton on the English border, about 100 km away. It’s funny to think about now, and I refer to it as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but it wasn’t humorous at the time.
Hopefully, the trip I’m planning this time won’t be as hectic. It should help to have a spry, natty octogenarian with us.
Blueberry Lemon Scones
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 lg. egg
3 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Measure the buttermilk, then add the egg and beat well.
- In a large bowl, pour the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Whisk to mix well.
- Add the cold butter pieces and using your hands, “pinch” the butter through the dry mixture thoroughly until it’s grainy-looking.
- Add the blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest using a fork to lightly mix before pouring in the buttermilk mixture. Toss lightly with the fork, working to dampen all of the dry ingredients without over mixing.
- Pour the dough onto a lightly floured counter and with your hands, gather it into a smooth mass. Make a large ball, flatten it a bit, then divide into 8 pieces.
- Gently press each piece into a ball and set on a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until richly brown.
- Brush with some butter and sprinkle each with sugar if desired. Allow to cool about 20 minutes before serving.
- This is a more solid dough for scones than what I’m used to working with. The idea of making a ball of dough is a bit odd, but it works quite well. I used fresh blueberries, and surprisingly, very few of them were smashed with the handling. Frozen blueberries would work just fine as well. Don’t thaw them out — just add them frozen.
- I used Meyer lemons for this — they’re sweeter than regular lemons and I was lucky enough to have a few I’d been given. It always helps to know someone with a lemon tree!
- As much as fresh scones hot from the oven sound, let these sit — even longer than the 20 minutes I did. They’re very light in texture and although very tasty, fairly delicate.
- We tried some with the melted butter and sugar, and some without. The added calories aren’t necessary at all. They’re flavorful enough without either.
- This recipe can be made with plain yogurt or powdered buttermilk as well if you don’t have fresh buttermilk.
- Adapted from Biscuits and Scones by Elizabeth Alston
- The blue plate is old. The stamp on the back reads: “Enoch Wood’s English Scenery, Woods Ware, Wood & Sons, England” and is circa 1917. It’s transferware — pretty if you’re like me and collect blue English dishes, but not especially valuable.