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I took deep breaths

Heavens to Betsy! The carnage was unprecedented! I made strawberry scones!

A couple of months back, I went strawberry picking in Carnation with Kate, her sister Margot, and Margot’s boyfriend Todd. A mere hour or so of backbreaking labor yielded 16 gorgeous pounds of loot and made me almost dizzy with glee—until, that is, I realized that each and every berry had to be washed and dried. To make a long, messy, juice-stained story short, I cooked up three batches of jam from a recipe given to Margot in Italy, and I now have a freezer full of red-to-the-core strawberries. And I can’t stand seeing them just sit there unused, unattended, unloved. These sorts of dilemmas keep me up at night. If you know me, this is no joke. I need my sleep.

But as luck would have it, this past Saturday I chanced upon my sister Lisa’s recipe for Scottish scones. Lisa makes at least a half-dozen varieties of these scones—from plain to lemon, currant, dried apricot, candied ginger, raspberry, and strawberry—each year before Christmas, stashes them safely in the freezer, and then totes them to wherever it is that we’ve all gathered for the holidays. Lisa’s scones are neat and pretty, with a fine crumb and just a hint of sugar and butter. She has the touch, evidently, and on previous attempts with lemon zest and currants, I’ve come close.

But my strawberry scones are something else entirely. They are lumpy. Floppy. Disheveled. They resisted my efforts to knead them neatly, even forcing me to sling a sticky blob of dough onto a nearby wine bottle. Once in the oven, they oozed pools of strawberry juice and then stubbornly braised themselves in it. I’ve never seen a Silpat so dirty. I took deep breaths and fought the urge to reach for the trash can.

But! They taste absolutely divine. Hideously ugly but wonderfully delicate, they barely hold themselves intact around pockets of soft, jammy strawberry. Those berries! That light, tender, almost biscuit-like crumb! It must have been that minimal kneading I was forced into.

Scottish Scones

This recipe was given to my sister by a good friend of hers who, appropriately, is Scottish. I pass it on to you only on the condition that you try making it first with something neat and non-wet, such as raisins, currants, dried apricots, citrus zest, or candied ginger. Wetter things, such as frozen berries, will send you into murky territory, and it’s best to learn the lay of the land first.

½ c milk (I’ve used skim with no adverse effects, although it might be best to use one with more fat and body)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbs sugar (I often choose the finely milled raw cane sugar—hippie sugar, as I call it)
Flavorful additions of your choice, to taste (see above for ideas; if you use berries, make sure they are frozen)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat together the milk and the egg and then set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar and whatever additions you choose, and stir or toss to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries, reserving just a tad of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it no more than 12 times. [Apparently, twelve is the magic number here; surpass it at your own risk.] Pat dough into a round approximately ½-inch thick, and cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat, if you have one. Using a pastry brush, glaze wedges.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack.


Blogger Fredrika said...

Made these this very morning...delicious (if I may say so myself) and so simple! I chose to use craisins...yum.

3:01 PM, May 15, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Parry, I'm so glad to hear that you tried these! I imagine that Craisins would be pretty delicious. Yum. I think I'll try them with blueberries this weekend, myself. Mmm, scones of the season...

12:50 PM, May 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiya -- Inspired by your recent post about finding the gumption to branch out from this tried-and-true recipe, I decided I could do it too. I've got a yogurt scone recipe that is easy and delicious, to which I'm very committed. But I tried these today, and yum! I added frozen raspberries, chocolate chips, and a bit of cocoa to the mix. Even with the frozen fruit, the dough looked a soppy mess. I soldiered on though, buoyed up by your results with the strawberries, and they're excellent. Mmm. peace -- Lisa

12:00 PM, February 01, 2007  
Anonymous shelly said...

I made these scones this morning. They came out tasty, but the dough was very, *very* sticky. I was barely able to knead it. I aerated and sifted the flour before using it. The scones came out pretty good, but very flat, like a thick focaccia. Did I miss something? Is the dough supposed to be that sticky?

5:09 PM, February 17, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Lisa, so glad they worked for you. And with raspberries, chocolate chips, and some cocoa - genius!

And shelly, I'm very sorry to hear of your trouble. I know well what you mean - with frozen fruit, this dough can be VERY, very sticky. I had to add a bit of extra flour on the board when I kneaded them, but still, they were sticky. Mine didn't fall flat, though, upon baking, so I'm really not sure what to tell you there. My apologies.

All told, this recipe is easiest and most predictable when you use a non-wet add-in, such as currants, nuts, or other dried fruits. I did like it quite a bit with frozen strawberries, but it was messy, and these days, I tend to stick with dried fruits instead.

11:50 AM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous shelly said...

Thanks for your comments, Molly. I actually used dried, candied citrus peel, not frozen fruit. So I'm not sure why the dough was so sticky. Unless the 2 cups of flour were supposed to have been 2 packed cups of unsifted flour.

12:09 PM, February 18, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Hmm, shelly, I'm just miffed. That's so strange! I haven't had trouble with this dough being unusually sticky when I've used dried fruits. So strange.

As for sifting, I have not tended to do that here, but I can't imagine that it would make a tremendous difference. I usually measure my flour by spooning it into a measuring scoop and leveling with the back of knife, so my cups aren't terribly packed. I also usually aerate my flour a bit before scooping and measuring it.

I'll be making this recipe again in the next week or so, so I'll pay close attention...

Thanks for your comments!

4:51 PM, February 18, 2007  
Blogger amisha said...

i just made scones for the first time yesterday and i am in love... and these sound delicious! and in your photos i think they look beautiful... luscious red strawberries all over, yum!

7:26 AM, February 19, 2007  
Blogger Tiana said...

i just made these in my dorm room (we have a tiny kitchen) and they came out beautifully. molly, my roommates and i thank you!!

5:19 PM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm still not exactly sure how this post popped up in my bloglines, but I made these last night and I'm glad it did! I had the same problem with ridiculously sticky dough (maybe it's a humidity thing?), but that didn't make them disappear any less quickly when I took them to work.

5:38 PM, February 20, 2007  
Blogger owlhouse said...

Just the sort of recipe we need for tomorrow's post-egg-hunt festivities.

I think we'll add berries and a touch of nutmeg.

10:31 PM, April 07, 2007  
Blogger Kristen said...

With regards to Shelly's issue, my suspicion (which Cook's Illustrated kindly confirmed here) is that she didn't knead and bake quickly enough. Leaving out baking powder-dependent recipes like this for even a few minutes too long turns out pastries precisely like thick focaccia--I have unfortunate first-hand experience with coffee cake :)

9:49 PM, May 02, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

That's so interesting, Kristen! Thank you for sharing that article. A huge, huge help.

10:10 AM, May 10, 2007  
Anonymous melissa f. said...

we had a taste off yesterday using this recipe and one of ms. stewart's. the strawberry ones were CLEARLY the winner. thank you very much.

1:43 PM, July 04, 2007  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Several years ago I devised a similar recipe (mine has a bit of sweetner and flavoring). I make them with dried cherries and almonds (with almond extract) and fresh and frozen cranberries with vanilla and ground cloves, for a couple of favorites.

What I really wanted to contribute is my way of dealing with the sticky dough. I use rice flour when shaping the scones. Any type will do but the coarser grind makes for a crunchy surface while a finer grind is almost un-noticeable.

5:08 PM, July 06, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

Melissa, you made my week! I can't believe I beat out Ms. Martha. Wowie. Thank you, m'dear.

And Bonnie, thanks so much for the tip on rice flour! I would have never thought of that. I can't wait to try it...

5:49 PM, July 07, 2007  
Blogger jill said...

I whipped up a batch this morning and added a banana to the mix. They came out smelling delicious and tasted even better! Thanks for the recipe! Will be trying out strawberries and apples in the future.

6:11 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger selena said...

another success with dried cranberries! i think i'll try dried candied ginger next. thank you!

8:15 PM, November 17, 2007  
Anonymous kat said...

kat said...
Made these this very morning...delicious (if I may say so myself) and so simple! I chose to use craisins...yum.

8:14 AM, December 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made them right now. Am eating one while typing. Have to let you know that they were perfect. I followed the recipe exactly. The dough was not sticky at all. Worked it quickly and have beautiful looking and delicious tasting scones.

Thanks for sharing your recipe.

2:05 PM, December 08, 2007  
Blogger Christine the Strawberry Girl said...

Was very excited to find this recipe. Made this morning w/ Craisins & they are delicious! Cannot wait until I try them w/ raspberries. Thank you to you & your sister!

9:12 AM, January 06, 2008  
Blogger Devalicious said...

OK, I was a little iffy at first... did not think that I wanted to go through all that trouble of being messy/ sticky etc.... but it is sooooooooo worth it!!! I LUV them! I added a little bit more sugar... and barely kneaded it... but used a lot more flour that I thought I would to keep it from sticking to me... I added frozen strawberries! YUMM! PLEASE do not hesitate to make these! Thanks for posting this recipe!

8:47 AM, February 08, 2008  
Blogger Lane said...

I made these last night with blackberries, vanilla and lemon zest. Delicious!

8:25 AM, February 11, 2008  
Blogger Lulu said...

This might be a real no-no but... has anyone tried making these with whole wheat flour? If so, how have they turned out?

12:18 PM, February 13, 2008  
Anonymous Tania said...

I too made them with craisins. They were fabulous! Thanks for the great easy recipe!

7:29 PM, August 10, 2008  
OpenID simply-fly-away said...

My (Scottish) boyfriend has been searching for scones like his grandma used to make for years, I found this recipe through a friend of a friend and, as I had time this afternoon, I thought I'd give it a go.

Oh my goodness, best scones I have ever had. And I also now have one extremely happy boyfriend who literally did a dance of glee when I presented him with them this evening. He's already nagging me to make more. Thank you so much!!

2:06 PM, August 15, 2008  
Blogger Dee said...

Wow! Delicious looking scones. My mouth is watering, yum!

8:10 AM, November 17, 2008  
Anonymous scotproof said...

You can see my attempt over on flickr.

They were really good, but my favourite is plain scones (using the same recipe) halved and spread with butter and bramble jam.

A wee tip from a Scottish person: after removing from oven, transfer the scones to a wire rack and wrap in a tea towel to keep warm.

And those with sticky dough, just sprinkle more flour on the dough when you're at the kneading/patting stage. It won't do any harm.

7:02 AM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger sshoys said...

I love these scones and was thrilled that I had all of the ingredients on hand. I ended up using an unsweetened vanilla almond milk, raisins, and a dash of cinnamon in the batter and they turned out flaky and lovely. I also sprinkled the tops with a bit of raw (turbinado) sugar before baking.

Next time I'll try using real dairy milk-- maybe 1% to get a bit more richness.

9:45 AM, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Ryan said...

Hi Molly, new reader from wisconsin by way of Seattle...this recipe is nearly the same as joy of cooking, although they call for tblsp. b. powder, which has always worked fine for me. I almost always use farm fresh cream now that we've found a local farm but buttermilk works well too, especially with currants and orange zest.
Excited to read your book.

2:16 PM, April 20, 2009  
Anonymous Shirley said...

Hi Molly,
Thank you so much for this!
Made them this morning (with raisins), and they turned out delicious... This is my new favorite weekend breakfast!

8:39 AM, May 02, 2009  
Blogger Jen said...

I made the original Lemon Ginger scones a few weeks ago and am in love and so easy, but definitely worth the sticky fingers ! Made them with frozen wild blueberries for my future mother-in-law and although they looked like purple polka-dotted triangles the flavor was delish!

7:30 PM, May 13, 2009  
Blogger Maura said...

These are so great! Thanks for the recipe. I used fresh strawberries because I had some on hand - just sliced them - and there was no problem. Didn't ooze while baking or anything. So no need to stick with only frozen fruit!

7:26 AM, June 20, 2009  
Blogger Cass Daubenspeck said...

Beautiful Molly. Thank you. I made these yesterday and took photos just to prove how wonderful these are. The strawberries made the dough wet and pink, and it was fine to work with. I also used whole wheat flour instead. Here's my experience: http://littlekitchn.blogspot.com/2009/06/eating-toast-does-not-make-me-better.html

1:10 PM, June 21, 2009  
OpenID nightowlchef said...

After finding this recipe in your book (which I am devouring - kudos!) I made a batch of lemon-ginger-dried cranberry ones this afternoon. Loved them! I used cake flour (adding 1 Tbsp per cup of all-purpose) because that's all I had in my pantry (just HAD to bake a batch today!!), and they came out fluffy but almost spongy. But the flavor was fresh and terrific; I'll leave out the cranberries - they were superfluous, really - next time and use all-purpose flour. Great alternative to my usual buttermilk scones!

7:30 PM, September 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read A Homemade Life over the weekend and had to try the scone recipe right away. (I've also recommended the book to about 12 friends.) I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all the white flour and used orange zest, nutmeg and dried blueberries instead of lemon zest and ginger. They were heavenly, and I can't wait to try some of the other variations here! Thanks, Molly!

12:34 PM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Lesley said...


I read your book until the wee hours of this morning. Your writing has such grace, humor, and authenticity. I grew up in a cooking and eating family. My mother has a substantial vegetable garden, which has nurtured my love for all things green. I am now a novice cook, and cannot wait to make these scones! I am so tempted to go with strawberries on the first round... Thank you for your delicious words and food.

12:47 PM, November 06, 2010  
Blogger Meredith said...

I made these last night to have for quick breakfasts and they turned out wonderfully! All I added were chocolate ships. I weigh my flour instead of measuring, as I've found that organic all purpose tends to pack heavily. Also duck eggs have been available locally recently so I used one of those. Anyway, LOVE the recipe and can't wait to try some other flavor additions. Thank you for posting this!

6:06 AM, November 19, 2010  
Blogger Lacy said...

I just made these scones with frozen peach slices, as my frozen strawberries were a terrible solid mass of melty-ness. They are good but strangely remind me of a baked pancake. I'm partial to the ginger scone recipe from A Homemade Life. I made those several times and only got 1 as my proud husband passed them out to all of our friends. Love the idea of frozen fruit, but I'll stick to dry ingredients... not sure if it's worth the sticky mess.

11:09 AM, March 29, 2011  
Blogger peggio said...

I just finished reading your book and loved every minute of it.

I knew I had to try these first and they were fantastic! I had prepared myself for a mess since I didn't heed your advice & used some strawberries from the freezer on my first attempt but it was a manageable mess, lol! I used a silicone mat to knead and pat out the dough which I think helped. I was counting out my "kneads" and twelve was perfect!

The "winning hearts and minds cake" will be next for my chocolate addicted boyfriend. ;)

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and recipes with all of us, I appreciate you!

5:42 AM, October 30, 2012  
Anonymous Liz M. said...

Just have to let you know that I discovered this recipe in your book, and have been in love with it ever since. We make them frequently, most often with frozen berries, and they are quite decadent.
I am in the midst of making several batches for an upcoming work meeting, and will be trying some of the new flavor combos I discovered in these comments here.
This has been a fail-proof recipe for me, and I can't thank you enough for sharing it!

8:30 AM, April 14, 2013  
Blogger bridgmanpottery said...

extremely late to the game, I've just made a batch of these, with frozen strawberries (very jammy!), for a hostess gift for this evening. Thank you- they are delicious!

11:40 AM, February 15, 2014  

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