Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tasty Treat: Rhubarb Scones

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I am obsessed with afternoon tea. I love the sandwiches, the tea, the scones and devonshire cream, which I could eat straight with a spoon! Afternoon tea is supposed to be a leisurely event intended for relaxing and recharging, kind of like a siesta, but with food. Most afternoons, tea time includes a warm mug of earl grey and a homemade scone if I'm lucky or even just toast with butter and jam. By myself, I stare off into space and meditate on my life while the steam gently massages my face. Other days, I sit down with a friend to chat and giggle because tea, when taken in the company of others, inevitably generates the giggles.

My grandmother first introduced me to afternoon tea when I was about three years old. I was the only girl, the third of four, just like she had been so we shared an even deeper kinship. Grandmommie would invite me and only me over for baby doll tea parties. She still has her childhood dolls and also her child-sized tea table, which she'd set with her fine china tea cups, linen napkins, a teapot and silverware. We'd seat the baby dolls around the table and pour them tea and then we'd sit together at the big dining room table and eat cucumber sandwiches and scones and drink tea with lots of milk and sugar. As I got older, we started going out for tea to hotels and various places. When baby girl gets just a wee bit older, she'll be christened with afternoon tea and hopefully she'll love it as much as I do.

The last few weeks rhubarb has been in season and I've been thinking up different meals and treats to include it in. Of course there was the Roasted Pork Butt with Rhubarb Compote, but what had really been getting me was my desire for the perfect Rhubarb Scone. I tried scone recipes from all over, but kept coming back to Karen DeMasco's Craft of Baking because her recipe seemed to have the moist texture of a cream scone rather than the crumbly texture we so often see in coffee shops. I toyed with her recipe, reducing some ingredients and increasing others until I came to what I believe to be a perfect scone: moist, fragile and a little crispy on the outside. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Scones
(While I include rhubarb in this recipe, really just about any fruit will work wonderfully. Just keep in mind that some are more watery than others so if you decide to use strawberries, add a dash less buttermilk.)

What You'll Need:
1 3/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
6 tbsp Sweet Butter cubed
1/2 cup Rhubarb chopped into small bits, about a quarter inch
3/4 cup Buttermilk
Demerera Sugar for dusting

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the bowl of your mixer. Whisk well to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the butter and fluff them about so they're coated with the flour mixture. Pop the bowl in your freezer for 5 minutes.

While the mixture is in the freezer, chop the rhubarb into quarter inch bits and measure out the buttermilk.

Remove the mixing bowl from the freezer and fix on your mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the flour and butter on low until it forms small pebbles, about 3 minutes. Add the Rhubarb. Add the buttermilk and mix just until it comes together.

Pour out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface. The dough should be lightly sticky, but not overly wet. The ingredients should just hold together. Pat the dough into an inch thick circle. Cut 8 pie pieces and place on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined cookie sheet. Pop the cookie sheet in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the scones from the fridge and brush very lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with demerera sugar. Cook until the scones are just golden and firm, about 15-20 minutes.

The scones are best the day of, but to regain their crispness, I pop them in the oven for 5 minutes at 250.

Approximate Cost:
Groceries: $6
Cost per Meal: Expect 8 servings

This Time Last Year: Garlic Scapes with Shrimp and Brown Rice

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  1. Hmm, I wonder when Rhubarb planting time. These sounds good enough to plant a patch!

  2. And Rhubarb freezes so well. Just chop it up and place little serving sizes in baggies and freeze!!

  3. What a great idea. I never thought of using rhubarb in scones!

  4. Since I started a B&B, I became obsessed with scones. Thanks for another great recipe! With all the rain today, our rhubarb must sent up some tender shoots ....

  5. I've come to love scones, too. When Hatch chiles are in season (late summer), they make a wonderful addition to scones.

  6. I'm obsessed with afternoon tea too. After eating scones with clotted cream in England it is so hard to not want scones all the time. Plus I love rhubarb. I'll have to make these sometime soon!!

  7. So glad to have more yummy rhubarb recipes. I'll have to try this. I have some vanilla-lavender sugar to sprinkle on top.

  8. I tend to prefer savory scones, sounds as though this would work with a bit of adjustment. we will have fun trying out in any case. Hatch chiles could be just the thing.

  9. What a nice childhood memory. I adore scones, and these sound really special. Of course, clotted cream really adds to the whole experience, don't you think?

  10. Icky. These turned out terrible. Too much baking powder.

  11. Very nice. And the rhubarb made me think of an old friend who loved rhubarb pie...I'm thinking she'd love this, too.

  12. Anonymous - so sorry you had a bad experience. This recipe is based on a winner from Karen DeMasco. I've tested it again and again with no problems. Perhaps you could elaborate beyond icky?

    Feel free to email me at Thanks!

  13. Ruth and Kerry - I've never had Hatch chiles! I wonder if I can find them in NYC. Would love to try it out.

  14. These sound fabulous! I love tea and love scones both. I'm wondering if there's maybe just enough new-ish rhubarb on my plant outside to make these this week . . .

  15. love scones. love afternoon tea. love rhubarb. when are you coming by to whip up these little lovelies?

  16. You folks and your gluten-y flours make it so hard to stay on the wagon! ;) Rhubarb is my favorite. Looks like I'll have to develop a recipe for rhubarb scones, sans-gluten.

  17. I love the sound of this and with rhubarb in season. I must try this combination. And I might just have to bring out my posh tea cup and enjoy the whole experience. I think I would liek some whipped cream with mine too.



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