RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SCONES FOR THE ROYAL WEDDING!

Ohhh, I love strawberries... and these scrumptious little scones are perfect for strawberries in so many ways.... Serve them piping hot and fresh from the oven with butter, cream, and jam or sliced for strawberry shortcake. Either way, these scones are simple to make and you can substitute the strawberries for all kinds of savory and sweet options. Read the directions carefully because the fresh strawberries make the dough a little tricky. Not hard, just easy to mess up if you are not careful when mixing in the strawberries. The batter can get too wet if you mix for more than a couple of seconds. That said, the fresh strawberries make these scones so perfect for spring and summer entertaining. Enjoy!

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FRESH STRAWBERRY SCONES

1 cup fresh strawberries, diced (use very fresh strawberries, not really juicy ones)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar plus more for sprinkling, if desired

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 ½ sticks very cold unsalted butter, diced

2 eggs, beaten (make sure eggs are cold so you don’t melt the butter)

½ cup less 1 teaspoon heavy cream (make sure it is cold)

1 teaspoon imitation strawberry extract (optional but it really pumps up the flavor)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Egg Wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk or water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Spread the fresh strawberries out on a paper towel after you dice them and allow them to dry out a bit. This way, some of the juice is absorbed before you put them into the batter. If the berries are too juicy, the batter becomes too wet. Allow the berries to “dry” for at least an hour first before adding to the batter. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

In the large bowl of your mixer, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, and baking powder, salt, and lemon zest on the lowest speed of your mixer; add the cold butter until the butter is the size of peas. Crack the eggs into a bowl, one at a time; add the cold cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and strawberry extract. Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork to combine and slowly pour into the flour mixture. The batter will quickly combine. As soon as it comes together, stop the mixer. Don’t over beat. Now, quickly toss the strawberries with the remaining flour and add to the mixture. Turn on the mixer for approximately 10 seconds to incorporate the berries. Be very careful; if you mix it too much, the strawberries will make the batter too wet. If you have strawberries left in the bottom of the mixer, just dump them out with the batter and work them in when you roll out the dough.

Dump the dough out onto a well floured surface. Before you touch it, I find it helps to rinse your hands with cold water so the heat from your hands does not melt the butter. Flour your hands, the rolling pin, and the biscuit cutter. Working quickly, roll the dough out to about ¾ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into circles. Place the dough onto the baking pan lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until the tops are browned. If the scones are large, you may need to increase the baking time.

These scones are best eaten hot from the oven. And you can add a classic Confectioners’ sugar glaze if you like but they are wonderful without. 

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RECIPE: DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS (Fluffy french dessert)

Clafoutis (pronounced kla fou TEE) is a rustic dessert, traditionally made with black cherries, eggs, milk, sugar, and flour. Clafoutis is French, but don't be intimidated. It's simple and rustic, but can be very elegant. I've made it for a dinner party and also when camping! The batter puffs up around the fruit and the edges get browned and a little crusty; it's delicious. It rises and puffs up as it bakes; much like a Dutch Baby, if you are familiar with that. The taste is a bit like a custard but it isn't as creamy. Clafoutis, served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of heavy cream is one of my very favorite desserts... and once you taste it, you'll add it into your regular dessert rotation. Serve it in the skillet for an impressive presentation. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can also bake this dessert in a buttered baking dish but youneed to watch it carefully if you do because the timing may be different.

You can also make Clafoutis with different fruit. I like it with pears or apples, too.

Dark Cherry Clafoutis recipe

DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

6 eggs

6 tablespoons sugar

1 ¼ cup milk

Pinch salt

¾ cups of all-purpose flour

3 cups pitted cherries (don't get the canned cherries in heavy syrup. Use the 24.7 ozbottle of Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup, if you can find them. Drain them well. Or you can use fresh*)

Confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a large cast iron skillet or baking dish.

Combine vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend for a few seconds until combined and then add the flour and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (if you don't have a blender, you can just whisk until well combined, the sugar is dissolved, and batter is smooth. Whip it really well.)

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Cover the top evenly with the well-drained cherries. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Don't be tempted to open the oven during baking or the Clafoutis may fall. Serve warm. Dust the top with powdered sugar or serve with a drizzle of heavy cream.

NOTE: When using fresh fruit, put the butter in the skillet and let it melt. Once it has, add about a pound of  fresh, pitted Bing cherries to the butter and let them cook to soften for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and stir until the juice thickens into a syrup. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake as directed above.

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RECIPE: MINI STRAWBERRY TARTS

Anything in a homemade, buttery pastry crust is always a welcome treat but the crust is perhaps even more delicious (if that is possible) with the addition of ripe and juicy locally grown fruit. Late spring in middle Alabama is strawberry season... and we've been blessed with a huge, beautiful crop of perfect strawberries this year. Here's one of the best ways I know to enjoy summer's berries and fruit. FYI-The crust can be stuffed with just about anything. Leave off the sugar for chicken pot pie or other savory dishes.

I recently made these tarts for a benefit for the No Kid Hungry/Chefs Cycle event. Everyone asked for the recipe.... so here you go!

 

MINI STRAWBERRY TARTS

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

1 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for flouring work surfaces

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very cold and cubed

3-4 tablespoons ice water

1 beaten egg (optional, for egg wash)

For the filling:

1/2 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar (taste the strawberries to see how sweet they are and use just enough sugar to sweeten slightly)

pinch of kosher salt

pinch of black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon juice if you prefer)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you may need a bit more for extremely juicy berries)

DIRECTIONS

FOR THE PASTRY:

Use a food processor. If you don't have one, you can cut the butter into the flour by using a pastry blender or two butter knives as I did when I used to cook with my mom as a child.

Lay down a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the flour over the surface.

Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of the food processor. Turn it on run for a moment to incorporate. Begin to add the butter, 2-3 cubes at a time and pulse 10 times before adding the next. Once the butter has been incorporated, turn the food processor to "on" and add the ice water quickly, but add it one tablespoon at a time. As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, turn it off immediately.

Turn the dough out onto the prepared plastic wrap. Working quickly, shape it into a disc and cover with the plastic. Move it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour before using.

FOR THE FILLING:

Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the softened butter. Set aside.

Place the strawberries, sugar, salt, pepper, and lime juice in a glass bowl and mix together well. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the berries. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

ASSEMBLY:

Preheat your oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a heavy sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper. Sit out a wire cooling rack.

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Dust flour lightly over the work surface and also flour a rolling pin. Cut the pastry disc into 4 equal pieces. Working quickly, roll each into a ball and then press it down so you may roll each into a circle shape approximately 6" in diameter. Place each on the baking sheet.

Place a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl. Pour the strawberries into the strainer to remove any excess juice. Add a heaping 1/4 cup of the strawberries to the center of each tart. Fold the crust over the berries, leaving the center open.

Using a pastry brush, brush the crust with the egg wash. I also sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on the crust. Add a pinch of the vanilla butter to the top of each tart.

Place the assembled tarts into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill before baking so the tarts do not spread.

Bake for 12 minutes. Turn the tarts and bake for 4 more minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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