Traditional scone and biscuit recipes often require rolling the dough into a cylinder and slicing off rounds, but those extra steps can make the pastry tough. You start out with a shaggy dough that only takes shape when you press it into the cookie cutter. The less you handle the dough the better, so we cut in the butter with a pastry cutter and mix in the buttermilk and fruit by hand. You can avoid another common problem—fruit that breaks up and stains your dough—by starting with fresh fruit but freezing it for a couple hours just before mixing.
As for flavor combinations, the possibilities depend on what’s in season. In the summer, we cut up nectarines, plums, peaches, and strawberries; in winter, we rely ondried fruit and candied ginger. Whatever fruits you pick, make sure to give your scones ample space on the cookie sheet, because they’ll spread until they’ve almost doubled in size.
- 1 cup fresh huckleberries or blueberries
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar
How to make scones (about 1 dozen)
About 2 hours before making the scones, scatter the berries on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer.
Put the cubed butter, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl, put the bowl in the freezer, and leave it there for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Using a pastry cutter, work the chilled ingredients together in the bowl until the butter cubes are the size of peas. Make a well in the center. Combine the vanilla and buttermilk in a separate bowl, and pour the mixture into the well. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy mass. Add the frozen berries and gently mix them in, trying not to crush them.
To shape the scones, place a 3-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter on one corner of the prepared baking sheet. Take a handful of the scone dough and press it into the cutter, patting it down so that the top of the scone is flat. Pull the cutter off the sheet, leaving the scone behind. Repeat this process across the sheet, keeping enough space between the scones for them to double in size, until you’ve used all the dough. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with the turbinado sugar and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown along the sides but still tender inside. Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and let them sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.