I’ve been a little AWOL around here lately. Over the last year, I’ve stuck to a tight timetable of one post per week – a recipe carefully trialled, baked and photographed, edited and put together with writing. As much as I wanted to continue that, the few weeks of push towards our final exams necessitated a little break. I was torn between blogging and studying, but with the work piling up and the realization of just how much material I needed to cover, university had to take priority. I decided I’d rather see my exam results later knowing I’d done everything I can, and not regret the hours and energy spent on a couple of extra recipes over here.
Studying was exhausting. The kitchen table was cluttered with pages and pages of my colourfully messily jotted down notes, books were stacked on most available surfaces and each day was a mountain of words and cramped fingers. My mid-morning flat white from the cafe down the road accompanied by a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (freezer cookies are lifesavers!) was the high point of the day. As much as I find what we do interesting (and I do, I really do – especially the practical part of actually working in a hospital), that urgent, stressful week of trying to understand and remember as much information as possible is the worst.
I’m writing this from the window-seat of our house back in Auckland with summer stretching ahead. Selling Christmas trees with that familiar pine needle smell (not so keen on the part where I have to sit outside all day), making cakes (any advice on a star wars or minecraft theme for 6 year old birthdays?!), spending more time working on this blog, swimming, sun soaking, beach walks and general laziness. My list of recipes to try is already stupidly long, and I’ve decided this will be the summer of pie. I’ve never made a proper pie (only tarts, like this roasted carrot, white chocolate and ginger one), and it’s a goal to master them. Lattice crusts are the scariest bit, along with the prospect of soggy pasty. Spring rhubarb and strawberry, summer stonefruit and berries, an out-of-season crack pie (still dreaming of that momofuku piece) and of course a salty honey pie – the slice I had in thee Four & Twenty Brooklyn shop was out of this world. The Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie bible is here – I just need to find a pie pan! Glass or metal, guys?
Also on the list: ricotta gnocchi, homemade pasta, sourdough, yeasted waffles, a dutch baby pancake, bagels with gravlax, chocolate halva babka and crumpets. Essentially everything that takes a little too much time and effort to tackle during the university year. Wish me luck!
Today I have something much simpler for you. These rhubarb, strawberry & ginger buttermilk scones are what morning-tea dreams are made of. Craggy, dimpled scones with golden, crunchy edges, stuffed with pockets of jammy, tart rhubarb and the citrusy spice of crystallised ginger. It’s my go-to scone recipe, adapted from Tartine Bakery and reinvented for spring. The flaky dough is made extra light by the buttermilk rather than traditional cream, and it’s all just in one bowl, with minimal washing up required. Don’t skip the final brush of melted butter and sprinkle of sugar – it lends an addictive crunchy crust to the finished scone. Serve them with tangy whipped vanilla mascarpone and extra berries, if you’re feeling decadent. If you’re in those parts of the world where rhubarb isn’t in season, try these blueberry scones with lemon curd instead.
- 1 cup rhubarb, thinly sliced
- ½ cup strawberries, quartered or in eighths
- ⅔ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 2⅜ cup (340g) plain flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- scant ½ teaspoon baking soda
- heaped ½ teaspoon salt
- 125g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- extra 3-4 strawberries for topping, sliced lengthways
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted to brunch
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
- 1 cup mascarpone
- ¾ cup cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, crystallised ginger and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.
- in another large bowl, combine the ¼ cup caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Cut in the cold butter or use your fingers to rub it in until it resembles textured breadcrumbs (there may be some larger bits of butter left - that is fine).
- Stir in the buttermilk until it just starts to come together
- Add the fruit mixture and gently stir into the dough - it can still be quite crumbly at this point. Turn onto the baking sheet, and with floured hands, gently bring the dough together into a disc about 3-4 cm thick. You may need to press some of the fruit back into the scone dough
- Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle the sugar on top
- Using a sharp knife, cut the disc into 6-8 even wedges and gently spread apart on the baking tray, leaving about 2 cm between each. Top with a strawberry slice.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
- Beat the cream to stiff peaks
- Add the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla.
- Beat to combine and bring back to a thick consistency (less than 1 minute)