Scones and strawberry jam is such a classic pairing that, naturally, it’s rife with debate.
First, there’s the pronunciation of scone. Does it rhyme with “phone” (as in the United States, Ireland and some parts of England) or with “gone” (as said by many Britons, including Queen Elizabeth)?
Then, there’s the issue of jam placement. Do you smear it directly on the split pastry before dolloping it with clotted cream (called the Cornish method), or are you team cream-first, jam-second (the go-to in Devon)?
Having consumed the majority of scones in New York City, I draw out the “o” (as in “hello, I made scones”). And, in terms of strawberry jam, I’ve taken to mixing dried strawberries directly into the dough, which bake up into jammy pockets in the tender crumb. This evenly distributes the berries, giving you bits of intense fruit all the way through — and doesn’t preclude you from adding more jam after baking.
But perhaps the biggest way my scone recipe deviates from more traditional versions is that, instead of shaping the dough into individual wedges, I pat it into a round loaf, then score it, cutting halfway through.
This helps keep the interior particularly moist and fluffy, while the crust bakes up golden and craggy, with edges that crunch. And it’s fun to pull apart the warm pieces with your hands for serving. (For more elegant presentations, a serrated knife also works.)
One thing to note: Because dried strawberries can be hard to find, you might be tempted to use fresh or frozen berries here.
Resist this urge.
Fresh and frozen berries contain large amounts of moisture, which will steam during baking and can make the surrounding crumb soggy. It’s better to mix in other dried fruit. Dates, which have a similar sticky denseness, work especially well.
Like all scones, these are best served within a few hours of baking. But they also freeze well and can be reheated just before serving.
While testing this recipe, I stored leftovers of different versions in the freezer and was grateful every morning when I could just pop one in the toaster oven, then eat it hot, topped with softened butter. Of course, if you can get it, clotted cream would be an ideal accompaniment — with or without the strawberry jam.
Recipe: Strawberry Scone Loaf
Yield: 8 servings
Total time: 1 hour
1 cup/125 grams dried strawberries or pitted dates (see Tip)
2 cups boiling water
2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1/4 to 1/3 cup/50 to 66 grams sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup/113 grams very cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1 large egg, beaten
Butter and clotted cream, for serving
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the upper third. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place strawberries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until soft and pliable, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry and coarsely chop.
3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter into the bowl, then toss until mixture resembles oatmeal. Alternatively, pulse all the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Cube the butter, add to the processor, and pulse until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
4. Add strawberries and toss well.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until all the dry flour bits are incorporated, but the dough is still shaggy. Using your hands, knead and press the dough a few times while it’s still in the bowl until the dough just holds together.
6. Dump the dough out onto the prepared sheet pan. Pat the dough into a round loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, deeply score the loaf into 8 wedges (but don’t cut all the way through). Brush the loaf all over with buttermilk and sprinkle generously with sugar.
7. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly. Cut or break into wedges and serve warm with butter and clotted cream.
If you can’t find dried strawberries, pitted dates will give you a similar texture and level of sweetness. But you can also substitute other dried fruit.