If you’re a tennis fan, then you’re probably well aware that Wimbledon begins today. I enjoy watching from time to time, but with only the loosest grasp of the rules and a sketchy knowledge of the players involved I can’t really consider myself especially invested in the sport. What I am invested in is a sporting tournament that has a long-standing traditional dish. That part is definitely in my wheelhouse, and according to the Wimbledon librarian, strawberries and cream have been associated with the event since 1877.
Trust the British to make a genteel sport even more refined, and frankly what better way to celebrate summer than with time spent outside in the fresh air accompanied by a summery treat? And, can you think of a purer distillation of English cooking than a scone studded with bright red strawberries?
So, in honor of lawn tennis played on grass courts, and as part of my continued efforts to bring you an enormous amount of butter and fruit based baked goods this summer, may I present: Strawberry Shortcake Scones.
The more I bake, the more I realize what a difference a little buttermilk, yogurt, or cream can make toward a tender, moist crumb. In this case, slightly sweet ricotta cheese fills that role and helps these scones tip their cap at the American strawberry shortcake, while maintaining their cream-tea bonafides.
Strawberry Shortcake Scones (yield: 12 scones)
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 1/2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta, bought or homemade
1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If it's a very hot day, chill the baking sheet and keep any ingredients in the refrigerator when they're not in use.
In a large bowl combine 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Lightly toss the diced butter in the flour mixture to coat, then using a pastry cutter, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator.
In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the egg, ricotta, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Make a well in center of the flour mixture and add egg mixture all at once, fork together until just combined. Some of the flour may not be fully incorporated. Chill the dough while you hull and dice the strawberries into 1/4" sized pieces.
In a small bowl, toss together strawberries and 1 tablespoon flour, then add to the chilled dough, again using a fork until the strawberries are evenly distributed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough 10 to 12 times, pressing it together until dough is nearly smooth. Pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick and cut into 12 rectangles.
Place the scones 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with the additional 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake about 15-16 minutes or until golden brown. Slide the parchment and scones onto a cooling rack. Best when served warm.
Slightly re-written from Better Homes and Garden’s Strawberry Shortcake Scones.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Actually, yes. I used a large mixing bowl, pastry cutter, 2 cup-size liquid measuring cup, dry measuring cups and spoons, a butter knife, and a dinner fork. I also needed a small bowl, small cutting board, paring knife, baking sheet, pastry brush and parchment paper.
The scone itself is tender and gently fluffy with a slight crunch from the coarse sugar, while the ripe strawberries add a bright sweetness that sings against the richness. To me, these scones are the epitome of summery ease – the intentionally casual shape and simplicity of the ingredients conjure a lazy morning on the porch. Definitely worthy of any Sunday brunch table or an international tennis event.