Strawberry Scones with Basil

I’ve moved on to spring.  And in that spirit I made these fruit-filled scones.  It’s too early for local strawberries here, but I had a craving, so I came up with a pretty fine substitute.  Fresh strawberries can be difficult to incorporate into baked goods.  Sometimes they just disappear into a pink mush, adding too much moisture to the finished product.  I once baked a strawberry loaf that sounded so good in the recipe, only to have it turn out heavy and wet, and partially glued to the sides and bottom of the pan.  But I did a little research and found an acceptable swap for fresh strawberries that delivers good flavor without the extra moisture:  freeze-dried strawberries.  Don’t confuse these with regular dried strawberries; these are freeze-dried, with no additives.  I used a basic scone recipe, my re-hydrated strawberries, and fresh chopped basil.  The result is a tasty scone, with bright little bursts of strawberry flavor and the slightly savory contrast of basil.  Serve them warm from the oven with butter and strawberry jam for breakfast or a tea-time snack.

Strawberry Scones with Basil
(makes 8 scones)
A generous 1/2 cup of freeze-dried strawberries ( I use this brand)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (about 4-5 medium-size leaves)
Place the freeze-dried strawberries in a small bowl and cover them with warm water.  Leave to soften for about 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.  Chop coarsely and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment (or grease lightly).  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Quickly rub in  the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and cream.  Add the cream mixture, chopped strawberries, and basil to the flour mixture.  Stir together lightly to make a sticky dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead gently about 6 times, just until it holds together.  Add a little flour if necessary.  Pat the dough into a 6 to 7 inch round, about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut with a sharp knife into 8 even-sized wedges.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until set and golden brown.  Serve warm, with butter and strawberry jam.
(adapted from a recipe for cream scones in “The Art of Quick Breads” by Beth Hensperger)


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