TEATIME is a magical time, as far as I’m concerned. When I was a child, I’d race home from school at 3pm and my mother would be there, with something small to eat and a game to play; later, in high school, the tradition changed to a cup of tea, a chat — something beyond the milk and cookies of elementary and middle school, and something that felt like it was approaching Adulthood. Now, I suppose firmly entrenched in adulthood, I enjoy taking my tea as a time to recoup. A time to gather myself together. To sift through flavors and memories, to-do lists and small errands, planned projects and expected adventures. Teatime is the chance to dream; and what are to-do lists but the preparation for larger endeavors? Get the errands out of the way, and then — ah, then, explore.
And sometimes the to-do list is the adventure, especially when it reads “write 1000 words today, and 1000 words tomorrow, and learn to bake a flaky, satisfying pie crust sometime in between.”
I’ve been seeking magic in small moments lately. In the cloudburst sunset over the neighbor’s house; the smell of mint crushed into my fingertips after plucking a few leaves from the garden; the butterflies that trail by the kitchen window in the early afternoon. As the father in Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know says, “I am prepared for amazing things to happen. I can handle it.”
I’ve signed up for a writing bootcamp, to start July 1st and last for 10 days. I may get very little from it but a greater perspective on the discipline it takes to sit and write for hours — and maybe I’ll surprise myself and have something I’m actually proud of at the end of the 10 days. We shall see.
In the meantime, I’ve been populating my teatimes with scones. I stumbled across Smitten Kitchen’s raspberry ricotta scone recipe, which is an absolutely wonderful and earthy scone that finally (finally!) introduced me to a pastry blender and Changed. My. Life. (Don’t believe me? Seriously; try one out after years of the old two-knives-and-a-fork method of cutting butter). Pastry blenders are things of major, major magical properties. This is not exaggeration.
But I ran out of raspberries, and my mother had this lovely bottle of lemon curd from World Market just sitting there in her pantry, begging for use. So I used it. And I know: it’s sort of a cheat, not to have made my own lemon curd. But these scones, I don’t think they mind the affront. These aren’t snooty scones, not be a long shot. These are earth mother scones, and they’re just happy to have your hands all over them. They’ve a magic all their own, quiet and unassuming as it is. And beyond that, this is a really great scone base for any modifications you may want to make — blueberry lemon scones, peach scones, blackberry scones … Go ahead, take that pastry blender and scone your heart out!
Lemon Curd Ricotta Scones
- 1 c whole wheat flour
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter (cold)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3/4 c lemon curd
- 3/4 c ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- flour for dusting
Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scones are remarkably fickle and will burn if their bottoms get too hot. Lining your baking sheet with foil will overheat them, and not lining the sheet will also be detrimental, which leaves you with parchment paper as your best friend where scones are concerned.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. With a pastry blender (or with a combination of knives and forks, whichever works best for you), cut the butter into the flour until the biggest chunks of butter are about the size of peas.
Add in the lemon zest and lemon curd, as well as the ricotta and heavy cream. Mix with a flexible spatula until a dough forms. Then, using your hands — and you may want to flour them, just a bit — knead the dough in the bottom of the bowl itself. It’ll be a wet dough, which seems a bit odd for scones, but it’s what you want.
Gently transfer the dough from the bowl to a well-floured surface (a large cutting board will do, or a clean countertop). Dust with flour and pat the dough into a roughly 7-inch square, about 1-inch in height. With a knife, cut the dough into 9 even pieces (or 12 uneven ones, if you’re like me and have problems evenly dividing things).
Move the scones to your baking sheet. Bake the scones at 425F for about 15 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool completely, and serve with a pat of butter. They’re more moist than traditional English scones, but they’re light and earthy and delightful.