These scones are long overdue but are also now currently appropriate because strawberries are in season.
When this idea first came into my mind, strawberries were far from being in their prime. I was at work and strawberries were due to be on the ad cover as they quite frequently are—just wait for April 20th. It was one of those rare moments where the words just flowed so I jotted this down:
"I wouldn't say that focusing is my strong suit. Or perhaps I’m just an excellent multitasker. Take the idea of these scones, for example. Here I am at work, editing some photos which doesn’t use all that much brainpower. Every 10 minutes, a number one in a red circle pops up in the upper right corner of Mac Mail. My OCD tendency to read every message as soon as possible means that I am summoned back to a conversation in my inbox about a weekly ad in mid-January that will be featuring strawberries on the cover. We’re 10 emails deep but we still haven’t decided how to highlight strawberries in a new and exciting way. For me, I can’t get Strawberry Swing by Coldplay out of my head. I also can’t figure out why strawberries are on sale now when they’re really not in season until the end of March/early April. Among the psychedelic tones of Strawberry Swing in my mind, I can taste the perfect sweet juiciness of fresh, in season strawberries. The kind that you get at the farmer’s market or a roadside produce stand—that are shiny and taut and erupt with juice on the inside. The kind that are so overpoweringly fragrant that they can stink up your car in an almost overly nauseating way. The kind that we’re not going to find now in mid-January but they make me crave them nonetheless."
The actual making of the scones was delayed more weeks until a Sunday morning in early March. Kristen and our friend Jackie were studying hard for finals, speaking science-y words that sounded like gibberish to me and laughing over Crash Course with Hank Green. And despite strawberries still being of an apple-like taste and consistency, I went ahead and finally made these scones.
I wasn't even sure I wanted to post about these scones as they are rather unattractive things with their scraggly edges and bits of baked strawberries and cream cheese poking out. But, they were so, so good—light, not dry, not too sweet, buttery and with surprise strawberry and cream cheese bits that are reminiscent of cheesecake. Whenever Kristen tells me something I make is "Better than_____", I feel that is an enormous success because it's always been a family joke that Kristen has the tastebuds of a food critic. This time, it was "Better than Diamond Head Bakery's". They have some pretty darn good scones so I consider that a big success.
That day was actually doubly successful as these Cranberry Hot Cross Buns also turned out how I wanted them to. Some days are just like that and others are an utter disaster that needs to be set aside until it's properly fixed.
Scones are a quite temperamental baked good. When I go back to Hawaii, I often make scones for my mom since they are not her forte. It's always a frenzy because I'm often running back and forth to the fridge, the freezer and the counter to make sure everything is cold in the humidity and heat that seems to seep into everything.
For these ones, it's helpful to freeze the cream cheese after cutting it. You could even slightly freeze the strawberries after cutting them if you find they are extra ripe and squishy.
Another important point is to knead the dough no more than 15 times or until it just comes together. Don't accidentally knead for 15 minutes like I did with this.
I originally didn't intend to brush with a glaze after baking but in the end, I'm glad that I did.
These scones turn out rather huge so share with a loved one or a friend, cut into smaller triangles or eat one just for yourself.
I won't tell. ;)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Scones
Yields: 8 large scones
4 oz. cream cheese cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup strawberries cut into ½-inch cubes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
Zest of one lemon
¼ cups of granulated sugar
¾ cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Extra buttermilk for brushing the scones
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice
Place cut cream cheese and strawberries on a plate lined with wax paper in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This helps cream cheese and strawberries from getting too squishy.
Preheat oven to 400º F. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt together. With a pastry cutter, food processor or a fork, cut cold butter into flour until approximately pea-sized pieces remain.
In a medium bowl, massage lemon zest in sugar to release the oils. Add in buttermilk and egg and whisk thoroughly to combine.
Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and then fold in strawberries and cream cheese until just combined. On a floured work space, knead the dough no more than 10 times or until it just comes together. This will be messy so be patient and don't overwork the dough. Pat into a circle of 1-inch thickness and cut into 8 triangles. Place on a lined baking sheet and brush with buttermilk.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops and bottoms are golden brown. Set to cool on a cooling rack.
To make glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Brush on top of the freshly baked scones.
These scones freeze rather well. Best when reheated in an oven for 5-10 minute or until toasty again.