they were perfect

The hotel where we stayed after our Lost Coast hike didn’t serve the most amazing breakfasts I’ve ever had in my life. There weren’t 3-course breakfasts complete with pancakes, stratas, poached eggs, and sticky buns. There weren’t fancy cappuccinos and passion fruit. Shoot, we were lucky to get the breakfast we’d “ordered” given the fact that a new chick was training.

But they were memorable, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Each morning, we rolled outta bed and walked to the porch to admire the ocean, thinking about our big plans of either reading or wine-tasting later that day. We’d let out a good stretch and walk over to the door, open it, and find a tray of treats way better than what we have at home – fresh fruit, coffee, and warm scones. I could have stayed in my room for the rest of the day, honestly, but instead we wandered downstairs for the rest of breakfast – an omelet, yogurt with fruit, or tasty steel cut oatmeal.

Like I said, the breakfasts were nothing spectacular, nothing fancy, nothing I couldn’t have easily made on my own, but at the same time, they were perfect. The scones were the best part, though. Flaky and tender, warm, and eaten while sitting in bed, I figured it didn’t get much better than that.

The scones, or lack thereof once I got home, had me a little sad the following week.  I guess I was on a little bit of a scone kick, salivating when I saw them at Peets that following weekend, and then finally just deciding that I’d make some myself. I need an excuse to eat some lemon curd anyway. And so did you, seeing as how I left you last week with a jar of the stuff and nothing but a piece of bread or a spoon to eat it with, right?!

So here’s the other end of the promise – lavender scones. I tossed in some buckwheat flour to give them a little heartiness, but you could use all-purpose all the way, or even whole wheat, if you prefer. And of course, if you’re already out of the lemon curd, first I’m sorry, and second, these are just fine on their own, too.

Buckwheat Lavender Scones
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2012; makes 16

time commitment: <1 hour

note: scones can easily be frozen prior to baking. freeze individually on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes and then toss them in a bag. add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

printable version

2 c all-purpose flour plus more for surface
1 c buckwheat flour
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t dried lavender buds
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 c plus 2 T buttermilk
2 t finely grated lemon zest
1 t vanilla extract
lemon curd, store-bought or homemade

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flours and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter; rub in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, zest, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until shaggy dough forms.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until dough forms, about 5 turns. Pat into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide between baking sheets. Brush with remaining buttermilk.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

Daddy Doesn’t Always Know Best

strawberry scones
So many childhood details have slipped my mind over the years. Clearly, I’m not an old bag or anything, but it’s obviously hard to keep all these details inside one tiny little noggin’. I do however, remember a lot – some things are more relevant than others. I remember my sister (she is 12 years older than I) dressing me up in all of her’s or mom’s outfits. I felt like a supermodel wearing “fancy” clothes despite them dragging the floor and in all honesty, making a little 7 year old look rather frumpy. I also remember the swing set out back, amidst all the dog poo, that was adjacent to the Weeping Willow tree. We’d swing on that thing till the sun went down and the fireflies flittered about, or until the meatloaf was ready.

One of my favorite memories is about breakfast. My parents were in no way shape or form gourmet chefs – our suppers (Southern for dinner) were fairly consistent from week to week (meatloaf, fried chicken, etc) and our breakfasts were no exception. But I remember them, not because of what type of food was served or what cooking technique was used, but because of the memories those breakfasts evoked: memories of sleepovers and of waking up at noon to a friend at my side and fresh-cooked bacon wafting into the room, despite the blanket placed under the door to muffle the smell of smoke that we just swore our parents never noticed.

fresh strawberries

My dad methodically cooked our first meal of the day every Saturday & Sunday morning. Like me, he loved to sleep in on the weekends, and so breakfast was served around 10-11. Perfect for me and my friends, waking up closer to noon. Occasionally some scrambled eggs would pop up on the menu, but most days all we craved was the samich: plain white bread (no, none of the whole-grain or wheat breads we all eat today), a piece or two of American cheese (yes, the packaged Kraft slices), a pan-fried egg w/ extra pepper, and bacon. I can’t explain it. Those sandwiches – there was something about them that was so simple, but so good and so perfect at the same time.

My dad fussed at me once when he visited because I bought the wrong bread; he looked at me and said, “what’s this?”. I won’t tell you what he said when he saw that I’d also purchased turkey bacon.

chopped strawberries

My dad is really swell. He doesn’t make me breakfast every morning like he used to, but now he calls me every week. Every Sunday at 4:50 PM, which is right before 6 for him and prior to his supper-fixin’, my phone rings without fail. I try to keep my phone out, but I must admit I don’t get to it, or hear it, every week. I should be better about it – I know in a weird way it’s the highlight of his week. And I should be better. I will. He called once when I was smack dab in the middle of making these here scones. And I’d missed his call the week before and knew I just had to pick up, despite my urge to let it ring and save my butter from becoming less-than-chilled.

He said the usual: “Hey Hev, whatcha doin’?”. “Hey pop. I’m makin’ scones”. “What? Sconies? What’s that?!”. “No – scoooooones. They’re like biscuits, but less flaky and a tad bit sweeter”. “Never heard of em’. They don’t sound too good to me”.

fresh strawberry scones

I didn’t tell you my dad is the king of the Picky Eating Kingdom. He is a thoroughbred Southern man who hates collards and everything else that’s green. He even hates our green wall in our living room. He eats fried eggs & potatoes, BBQ’d and fried chicken, and rare steak with A1 and Heinz 57. He does not experiment with food. At all.

So don’t listen to him when he sasses the ‘sconies’. Especially these sconies. I’ve made scones a couple of times before and they truly are divine. The recipe below is pretty standard and works every time to produce that perfectly just-flaky, just-sweet, just-crumby vibe. [But on the real – they are nothing compared to biscuits.] I’m sorry for sharing these when strawberry season is on the out – I’m sure you can substitute some other in-season berries and if you insist, frozen strawberries. Shoot, you may have frozen some from early Summer anyway. Me? I made a whole batch of these here scones, took out two, and (I swear) froze the rest. I’ve been thinking about them every since, and I’m taking them out this weekend for the in-laws’ visit. I can’t wait.

Strawberry Scones
Adapted from Adventures in Shaw; makes ~12

printable recipe

1 cup strawberries, hulled and small diced
3 cups AP flour (oops. I only had 1, so I used that, 1 cup bread flour, and 1 cup cake flour)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, optional, for eggwash

Preheat to 400 F and line baking sheet w/ parchment paper.

Sift dry ingredients into mixing bowl (include sugar, even though it’s a “wet” ingredient). Add butter and work into dry (with hands, pastry blender, two knives, or food processor) until mixture is crumbly, but butter is pea-sized or a bit smaller. Dry off strawberries and fold into mixture, gently. Add buttermilk and stir gently until a dense dough is formed.

Transfer to floured surface and knead (a tiny bit) until dough is uniformed. Roll out dough, with hands, until it’s about an inch thick. Cut dough however you want (I like to cut like pizza but leave it together somewhat; you can cut with cookie cutter too in traditional circles). If dough is warm and butter appears to have melted, put the dough in the fridge or freezer to cool the dough & butter before baking, otherwise the butter will sorta melt out. You want it cold!! Before baking, beat egg in small dish and brush top with egg wash. You can also use milk for a less shiny coat. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.