Buying any kind of berry off-season means shelling out serious cash for a tiny container of precious cargo that has traveled from another hemisphere to appear in the produce department. Unless I am having an uncontrollable craving, I hold out until the summer when my consumption skyrockets, so those berry-free months are a distant memory. I can easily polish off a pint of blackberries or strawberries in one sitting if I am not careful. Berries are a pricier item at Chicago farmers markets, but their juicy, special flavor is impossible to resist. When buying in bulk, it is worth venturing beyond city limits to purchase berries on their home turf.
I am fortunate to have a friend who weekends in Michigan and is kind enough to pick up a 5-pound box of blueberries for me when he is doing his shopping. At half the cost of city prices, I end up with a stash of blueberries in the freezer before season’s end. I throw handfuls into walnut-topped, honey-spiked Greek yogurt, and the rest end up in baked goods. Last weekend I made blueberry lemon scones that were just at the right level of sweetness for a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. Using fresh fruit rather than dried required gentle finesse when kneading the dough, but the luscious blueberries hiding in the scones were worth the extra care.
Makes 12-14 scones
3 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
6 ounces (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
3/4 cup milk plus more for brushing scones
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Sanding sugar, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, granulated sugar, salt and baking powder. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until the butter resembles pea-sized clumps distributed through the flour.
Combine the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Stir into the dry ingredients along with the lemon zest to create a shaggy dough. Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon flour and add to the dough. Gently knead the dough together.
On a lightly floured worksurface, pat the dough until it is about 1 inch thick. Using a 2-inch diameter round cutter, cut out the scones and transfer to the sheet pan placing the scones 2 inches apart. Gather the scraps, pat together again and cut out the remaining scones.
Brush the tops of the scones with milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using. Bake 20-25 minutes until the scones are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Scones are best eaten the day they are baked. Store in an airtight container and refresh in a 300 degree F oven for 5 minutes.