If you had had several nearly sleepless nights in a row, had a dinner date that night, and made a deal with a friend to meet to study at 9am the next morning, would you then go home (post-dinner, remember) and proceed to bake scones? I’m guessing that’s a no… Clearly I don’t exactly have a hold on my priorities, because that’s exactly what I did. In fact, it ended up being a double-baking night, because I realised I had forgotten to make a dish to bring to a potluck event at The Kings Cross Hub tomorrow evening, and if I’m going to be on campus studying all day, it had to be ready to take with me tomorrow morning!
I bookmarked these scones as soon as they came into my inbox last week and had been harbouring secret thoughts to bake them on Thursday (tomorrow), since I don’t have class until 4. Alas, my study date made that an impossibility, so naturally I simply moved my baking date with myself up a few hours, making it a late night baking session. Turn on some Amy Winehouse and Michael Bublé (or the original Frank) and you have the perfect night, in my opinion.
Sara (of Spouted Kitchen ) posted this persimmon variation on the raspberry ricotta scones in the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. A winning combination if there ever was one, from two of my favourite food blogs. I didn’t have persimmons, but I did happen to have some fresh sharon fruit sitting on my counter that were perfectly ripe upon my return from a weekend away in Berlin (more on that later). After a quick google search that told me they’re more or less the same thing and a wee detour into Sainsburys on my home for ricotta, I was ready to bake!
When I was first venturing into the world of doughs, I was scone-averse, frightened away by the prospect of cutting butter into flour. Now, I consider them to be one of the easier recipes. I swear, it’s not so scary as it seems. Cutting butter into flour can be done with a pastry cutter, your fingers, or even a fork. The idea is to mix the two together so that you end up with the consistency of sand. The most important thing is to act quickly so that the butter doesn’t melt. Using butter straight out of the fridge can help.
I was tempted to substitute yoghurt for the ricotta, for the simple reason that I don’t usually use ricotta. However, after stumbling upon another variation of the recipe from Heidi Swanson over at 101Cookbooks (another favourite), I decided to stick with the “original” – mostly. I did substitute buttermilk for the heavy cream (I don’t like to cook with cream. Period.) and I used spelt flour, since I can’t do wheat. Other than that, I stayed true to the recipe. A rare occurrence for me, I must admit. The one thing I might change next time, is to sprinkle some raw sugar on top before putting them in the oven. I think the caramalisation of the sugar would add an extra depth to the flavour.
The scones came together super quickly and were in and out of the oven in a flash. I think that might be the best thing about scones, you really do get immediate satisfaction! You can taste your creation within the half hour! The ricotta gives them beautifully moist on the inside, which is perfectly paired with a proper flaky crust. Plus, there’s just enough sugar to compliment the sweet from the sharon fruit, but not enough to make you feel like you’re eating dessert. It really is a beautifully crafted scone. So, thanks Deb, for the original, and Sara for a delightful autumnal twist!
Whole Spelt Sharon Fruit Scones
Only slightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1 cup white spelt flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 Tbsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup finely chopped sharon fruit
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup buttermilk (or milk curdle with cidre vinegar)
Preheat the oven to 425F (218C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour through the spices. Add the butter with a pastry blender, and cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas (this can also be done with your fingers, just be quick to not warm the butter, or a knife). Toss in the fruit and break them up a bit with the pastry blender.
Using a flexible spatula, add the ricotta and heavy cream to the butter mixture and stir them in to form a dough. Working quickly, use your hands to knead the dough gently into an even mass.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface, flour the top of dough, and pat into a round, 1 inch high. With a large, sharp knife, divide the dough into eight normal-sized scones or twelve mini-scones. Transfer the scones to the two prepared baking sheets with the spatula. Bake the scones for about 15-18 minutes until they are lightly golden at the edges. Cool them on the pan for a minute then transfer to a cooling rack.
Do let them cool a bit, so you don’t burn your mouth, but these are best enjoyed while still slightly warm from the oven, so dig in!