In my head, which frequently makes up its own rules, Memorial Day weekend is the beginning of summer. No one really waits to declare the change of season until June 21st, do they?
Regardless of calendars and convention, it is summer in my mind, which means that patio picnics, pleasure reading, big glasses of lemonade, and neon-painted toes are not only appropriate, but mandatory.
While this also marks the beginning of endless events and teeming social calendars, basking in the warmth, alone with thoughts and dreams is the Siren Song I am fighting hard to resist.
So while commitments must be kept, when the agenda allows, I am indulging in some pleasure baking. Pleasure baking is the term I like to use when I am creating something that requires little brain power and produces baked goods which serve no purpose except, as the name would imply, pleasure. It is not a birthday cake or a last course for company, just a bake which will sit on the counter waiting for me and me only to indulge.
Scones are a pleasure bake. I will not be taking them to a baby shower or a church potluck, but they will brighten my breakfasts and afternoon interludes in a way that few things can.
I wanted these scones to be properly summer-fied, which meant sweet berries and a bright, unexpected basil butter.
We are essentially putting flip-flops and SPF on a biscuit, but it’s all edible and there’s no threat of sunburn.
Scones are often served with clotted cream and or jam, but I wanted to put more of my fresh-grown herbs to use and make a super fresh basil butter.
Now all we need is a a good book and a glass of lemonade or, if it isn’t too stifling, a cup of tea.
You could call a friend, or you could just cuddle with your puppy.
This “pleasure bake” checks all the boxes of simplicity and mild hedonism.
Can we also take a moment to appreciate the color of this basil butter?! OBSESSED.
You could serve these scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream, but I love the combination of the berries and basil.
Here’s to easing into the bustle of summer living.
FRESH STRAWBERRY SCONES with BASIL BUTTER
makes eight scones
FOR THE SCONES
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water)
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Toss the cubed butter into the flour mixture and use the tips of your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is in pea-sized pieces.
Cook’s Note: It is important that the butter does not become warm at all, so avoid over-handling the butter while working it into the dough. If you notice that the butter is becoming soft or greasy, transfer the bowl of ingredients to the freezer to chill for 10 minutes before continuing.
Toss the diced strawberries into the flour mixture. Then, slowly stream in the cream, using a spatula to stir so that the mixture comes together to form a rough dough.
Turn the rough dough out onto a clean, dry surface and knead several times, mixing in any dry bits of flour, and forming a thick circle of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Cook’s Note: Try to avoid crushing or smashing any of the diced berries while kneading your dough.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the chilled dough out onto a clean, dry surface and pat into a circle about 1 1/2-inches in thickness. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out eight equal scones.
Cook’s Note: It is very important that the scones are cold when placed in the oven, so try to avoid excess handling and do not allow them to sit out at room temperature for any extended period of time.
Transfer the scones to your prepared baking sheet and brush each with a layer of the prepared egg wash.
Bake the scones for 25-30 minutes; until puffed and golden. Allow the scones to cool fully before serving.
While the scones cool, prepare the basil butter.
Cook’s Note: Scones are best if served within 24 hours of baking.
FOR THE BASIL BUTTER
2 large handfuls fresh basil (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until the basil is in fine pieces and the mixture is well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.
Cook’s Note: If refrigerated, the basil butter will keep for several days.
Serve at room temperature alongside fresh scones.