Monday, June 18, 2012

Thyme Scones with Syrupy Strawberries & Cream

I hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day. It's a bittersweet day for me, especially this year. It's been a year since my grand-daddy passed, and he was absolutely my daddy in every way that mattered. He was at my graduations and piano recitals and choir concerts.

He had a huge sweet tooth. As in, you should expect the cake we're going to eat to already have a slice taken out. Y'know...for testing. Most of the desserts I make have him in mind. But I'm not sure if this is dessert that I had for breakfast or breakfast that I had for dessert. I think it can go either way. The scones are sweet but herby, and the strawberry sauce has a tang that keeps this from being decidedly one or the other.

You'll need: All-purpose flour, sugar, thyme, sour cream, butter, baking powder, salt, and cream.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and chopped thyme (Oh btw, chop your thyme) in a large bowl. Give it a whisk to distribute everything.

Add your very cold butter and cut it in with your fingers or a pastry cutter. I love that little thing.

I feel like when people say your butter should be the size of peas they should qualify that it's more like an English pea as opposed to an early pea. An English pea is bigger. An early pea is like a can of Le Sueur peas, which Will and his parents refer to as peas l'jour. It's a long story, but now I've adopted the name when I'm talking to him.

Add the sour cream and heavy cream to finish it off.

It should come together in a suitably moist dough. You might knead it a couple of times just to get all the flour incorporated. That's cool, just don't overdo it.

Pat the dough into a 1"-thick round on a floured surface.

You could just cut the circle into 6 triangles and be done with it. Or maybe your mom finds a Christmas present she forgot to give you. And maybe it's a set of biscuit cutters with a smooth end and a fancy scalloped end. And you decide to make pretty scalloped scones. It's cool.

If you go the biscuit cutter route you'll get about 6 legit scones cut out and maybe a couple of janky looking (but just as delicious!) scones you don't photograph but bake on the same pan and eat because you haven't had breakfast and THEY'RE JUST AS DELICIOUS. Or something like that.

I just think the scalloped edge is purty.

You can totally brush the tops with a little heavy cream too, if you're feeling naughty. It makes a nice sheen.

Scones are baked! Let them cool a bit on a wire rack.

You can make the syrupy strawberries while the scones bake, but it's easier for me to show you everything if it's in sections. You'll need: Frozen strawberries (defrosted and in their juices), salt (balsamic salt if you're feeling fancy), olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. I know that seems like the most random assortment of ingredients. I promise it all works out for the best.

I froze these strawberries a while ago and decided I needed to do something with them. I had to thaw them because I was in a rush and didn't hull them before I froze them. I don't know what I was thinking. But I didn't want to try to hack through frozen strawberries, so I thawed them out and decided to make a syrup. Anyway, toss the strawberries with the maple syrup, salt, and olive oil.

Throw it in a little saucepan and turn the heat to medium. See, the olive oil doesn't make it taste odd. It just adds a bit of a different fruity note and gives it a pretty sheen.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it go for about 20 minutes.

You want the juice to coat the back of a spoon, and when you run a finger down it the line stays. It'll thicken a little more as it stands.

Add your balsamic to tang it up a bit.

You just made syrupy strawberries! Right on, man!

It's cream time. Dude, I love vanilla bean paste. It's easier to handle than a vanilla bean and you still get the pretty flecks. It's slightly sweetened, so I didn't bother adding any sugar to my cream. You can add 1/2 tsp if you're using vanilla extract. Or you could leave it totally unsweetened. It's all good.

It starts out with just a streak of vanilla.

A few minutes with a hand mixer make soft peaks and velvety whipped cream.


Add a little strawberry syrup.

And finish with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream. Seriously, I don't know how you can ever eat the stuff out of a can when it's so easy to make.

Breakfast for dessert or dessert for breakfast? The world may never know.

I'm ready to call it both. I mean, a muffin is really just a cupcake without a fluffy frosting hat. Bacon goes with everything. A frittata is like a quiche without the crust. Creamy thyme scones with syruped strawberries and lightly whipped cream can be either if they want. Let's call it bressert. Bressert is totally a thing now. P.S. I totally made up the word "syruped".

So some things are harder than others. Deciding when if a dish is for the daytime or the nighttime. Celebrating a day for somebody you don't have anymore. But you find the sweet spot in it all.

Thyme Scones with Syrupy Strawberries & Cream (makes 6 pretty scones)
Strawberries adapted from Heidi Swanson via Joy the Baker

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c sour cream
1 tbs cream, for brushing (optional)
1 c frozen strawberries, thawed and juices reserved
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract may be substituted)
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, thyme, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry blender or your fingers. Add the cream and sour cream and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Knead once or twice to incorporate all the flour. Heat oven to 375º and chill dough while oven is heating. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat it into a disc about 1-inch in thickness. Cut into 6 triangle or use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut scones out. Re-pat dough if using this method and cut more scones out. The remaining dough can be baked off for a lovely snack but probably should not be served. Brush the scones with cream if using. Bake 15-17 minutes. Cool scones on a wire rack.
  • While scones bake, prepare strawberries. Toss thawed strawberries and juice with the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil and drop heat down to a simmer. Continue cooking strawberries for about 20 minutes or until the juice coats the back of a spoon. Transfer back to the bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Let cool slightly.
  • For whipped cream, combine the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste in a medium bowl. Beat with a hand mixer using medium-high speed until the cream forms soft peaks. Serve scones topped with the strawberry mixture and a puff of whipped cream on top.

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