Lemon Curd Ricotta Scones

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.




Cranberry Pecan Scones

IN HONOR of D’s return to Philadelphia, I whipped up a batch of cranberry pecan scones.  I figured she’d be snacky after her flight and wanted to make sure there was something fresh and tasty for her to nibble on as we talked late into the night about her adventures (both culinary and travel-wise).

A few weeks ago as I stumbled through Trader Joe’s, I picked up a few bags of chopped nuts and a flat pack of Super Cranberry and Pomegranate Blend.  So, as I contemplated D’s imminent return, I needed a recipe that would let me use up some of those nuts while sampling the berry blend, and also be functional as a snack or breakfast.  And while I had dinner cooking on the stovetop, I figured a quick scone-baking venture in the oven was the perfect way to go.

They turned out even better than I had anticipated: moist, lovely, and just the slightest bit tart.  As D and I sat up over her photographs of Nepal, Argentina, and the El Camino trail in Spain, the scones lent our conversation a small bit of down-home flair.  As we spoke of dreams and personal symbols and signs, the scones gave us a grounding in the here-and-now that allowed our flights of fancy to take wing.  These are not just scones, as no baked good is ever just a bit of flour and baking soda: these are moments of living, and they can transform a single “Hello, I’ve missed you” into a much denser, larger, and lovelier conversation.

Have I ever said that I truly do believe in the power of food to unite people?  It’s the closest we come to magic .  And that’s the kind of fantasy world I can truly get behind.

Cranberry Pecan Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Cut in the butter.  Stir in the cranberries and pecans.

In a separate bowl, mix the orange juice and beaten egg.  Mix with dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.*

On the baking sheet, form the dough into a 6-1/2″ circle.  Because the dough will be sticky, moisten your hands with water to shape the circle.  Cut into 6 wedges but do not separate the wedges.  Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.

Cool, separate those wedges, and serve!  With the flavors in this, I like to serve them with butter and not overload the cranberries and pecans with jam.  Perfect for breakfast, tea, or an anytime snack.


*Note: If you mess up and add the orange juice and egg mixture before you add the butter, cranberries, and pecans, don’t fret!   The mixing will be harder, sure, but no harm done: the scones will be just as delightful.  Also, if your geometry is as topsy-turvy as my own, you might be lucky enough to end up with 7 scones instead of merely 6!


Simple, Succulent Scones

BLUEBERRIES are, to me, the West’s most exotic fruit. After a childhood filled with papayas, jackfruit, starfruit and durian but not blueberries, I refuse to believe that they are anything short of miraculous. While others may wax poetic over the properties of lychees, mangoes, persimmons and kumquats, I find myself in absolute raptures over the prospect of blueberries.

I’ve had a small container of blueberries sitting in my new fridge now for about a week. I bought them, not because I had specific plans for the little buggers, but because I like the implicit promise that they carry. Simply knowing they were waiting in the fridge meant that one day they would be used–that I would pluck them out of the fresh produce drawer and batter them up and serve them as dessert, or breakfast, or both. Tempting and chipper, they reminded me of the possibilities of my newly-minted oven, just aching to be put to the test.


Last night, trolling through a growing archive of music and movie blogs, I stumbled across a review of the new Wong Kar Wai film, My Blueberry Nights. Sure, the film is notable for its director and its stars (who include Norah Jones, Jude Law, and smaller roles by Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, and Cat Power). But it also has “blueberry” in the title, and I have to confess–galling as it is–that that’s what really caught my attention.

So when Emily and I started planning breakfast this morning (we needed a filling meal before heading out to Manayunk for the afternoon), all I could think of was that little plastic basket of blueberries sitting in the fridge, whispering sweet nothings to my appetite. We needed a meal to set us on the right path as we considered Emily’s potential move to the Philadelphia area (yay!), contingent on her finding a neighborhood she likes and a reasonably-priced apartment. (Hence, the daytrip to Manayunk.)


At Emily’s suggestion, we decided to make scones. Blueberry yoghurt scones. Trolling through the google archives, we found a fabulous recipe that called strictly for organic vanilla yoghurt and seemed pretty fool-proof. Armed with a grocery list (which included, among other things, more blueberries), we set out to build our dream breakfast.

What began as a simple trip to the grocery store for milk and eggs turned into an epic quest for parchment paper. Trying to find alternates for the paper, Emily called her chef uncle, only to spend a good 20 minutes learning more than she ever wanted to know about scabies before finally finding out that wax paper is not, in fact, an acceptable substitute. Aluminum foil can be used, but be wary: the foil heats up very quickly in the oven, and the bottoms of your scones will therefore be burnt. Parchment paper is the best option, if you can find it. (Hint: Rite Aid and CVS don’t carry it.)

We finally gave up and returned to the grocery store we had just left, and bought a single roll of parchment paper. My hope is that I will be making many more of these scones (and possibly even cookies!), and so will make good use of that elusive paper!

Blueberry Yoghurt Scones

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yoghurt
  • handful blueberries

Scones!Preheat oven to 400F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add in the diced butter and blend with a fork until there are no lumps of butter. Add in the yoghurt, vanilla extract and milk; mix until the batter begins to ball up. Stop when the dough begins to form a ball! (If you keep mixing, the scones won’t rise as much.) Fold in the berries.

Divide the dough into 8 balls. Brush with milk and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar; place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with butter, honey, or fruit preserve. (I ate mine with both raspberry preserve and fig preserve…Either is delicious, though the scones are also marvelous alone!)

The great thing about this recipe is that it is incredibly simple, and you can substitute a variety of fruits for the blueberries. Strawberries, cranberries, orange zest, apricots… Take a free hand with it and see what you can come up with. I’ll look forward to hearing about your creations!