Recipes

Strawberry Basil Scones with Balsamic Icing

April 22, 2015

RECIPE: Strawberry Basil Scones with Balsamic Icing

Every now and then I get a strong desire to bake some scones. Usually it’s because I’ve watched a show where they’re talking about the light breakfast treat or I’ve stumbled upon something in the fridge that I should use up and I know that it would (probably) be great in a scone. That happened to me just the other day. Perusing through the fridge I spotted some blueberries. I had forgotten about them. Suddenly, the realization that I could bring forth Blueberry Scones into existence in a matter of minutes was all I could think about. There was no going back. No amount of poached eggs or bacon would do. I needed scones. They needed blueberries and I needed them now.

Strawberry Basil Scones - mylifewithfood.com

One of the many pleasures of scones it that they don’t really take all that much time to make. You can measure out all your dry ingredients into one bowl and once those big chunks of butter have been pulverized and beaten down into pebble size pieces you add in your liquids. However, a not-so-secret fact about scones is that you don’t always need butter. And I don’t just mean replacing the butter with Crisco (although that would be fantastic, too). There are cream scones. Scones where you give your dry ingredients a whir, plop in some mix-ins and then add heavy cream until it just comes together. These scones are light and airy and somehow more buttery tasting than scones with actual butter.

Strawberry Basil Scones

The trick with cream scones is not adding too much liquid. Even when measuring it out to start off your recipe, you can still add too little or too much cream. Certain factors like humidity, the age of the flour, the mix-ins you popped in, how much sleep you’ve gotten, what time you started drinking, all have their effect on this. So the simple rule is to measure out the recommended amount and have extra on standby. Add the cream in slowly. Do not add it all at once. See how I’m telling you this? I’m a professional. I do this for a living. So you would think I would remember that. But sometimes I just get so excited that scones are coming, that I can’t contain myself, I stop thinking and just dump in all the liquid all at once. Too much liquid. So much that it’s practically dough soup. So then this professional knows that he can add in some flour to help decrease the hydration ratio. But in doing so, he also really starts to overwork that flour and develop some gluten creating a final product that is some weird hybrid of scone and bread. But again, I’m a professional. I would never let that happen. (Is sarcasm detectable over the internet?)

When I first made these, I had big plans of using an ice cream scoop to evenly portion them all out, give them a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sanding sugar on top. But when I ended up with a giant mass of dough, I felt so defeated and disgusted with myself that I just dumped it all onto a parchment lined sheet tray, tried my best to give it some sort of round shape that could be cut into smaller pieces and shoved into the oven and out of sight. In the end, Scone-Blob Squarepants was still edible. It wasn’t perfection. It wasn’t what I wanted my legacy to be. I knew I had to make them again. And this time, I was determined to not mess them up. If I did, then I should just stop now and go back to designing solar panel sell sheets and resizing ads for gross foot shoes in a drafty office.

Hey kids! Meet Scone-Blob Squarepants!

Like most things, I get excited about one idea. I run with it. I do it. It happens and then once I’m past the point of no return, I get an idea for a variation. It’s not like you can just open the oven, pull apart the dough, pick out all the bits and pieces and then replace them all with your brand new-and-improved and totally awesome idea. Is it even better? Is it worth it? The benefit of making a dough mound means that the process isn’t done. There’s time to do both. And why not? Who doesn’t like some options?

So as that lump of sad dough sat baking in the oven, my mind was working on overdrive. I knew they weren’t going to be good. So of course I was thinking of many ways of what to change, what else I could do, a new technique to try. Maybe I should mix an egg into the heavy cream, or just some yolks, to up the richness of it all. Or perhaps I could go all out and melt some butter and pour that into the dough. Why not experiment and do more than just one take on this? Why not even go even further and have this be two posts. One for the original and one for the second idea. What is there to stop me? Other than budgets (like I have one) and time (that is the real reason). In the end, there is just one post, because, I don’t want scone fatigue to set in. And I did add in some butter. Melted. Because, butter. It’s a scone after all. A little extra flavor never hurt anyone that didn’t have a pre-existing heart condition.

Strawberry Basil Scones

One thing I remember from the sclob (scone blob for you non-professionals), was that it wasn’t all that flavorful. I know that most that can be blamed on the insane amounts of flour I added to make it shapeable and then not adjusting the ginger and the mint. But I wanted to try something different. So even though I had blueberries and ginger and mint and lemon yesterday morning, I looked at the container of strawberries and basil that was just calling to me. Strawberries are so sweet. And basil is just so refreshing. And together they are just so lovely and harmonious that for a minute, you really do believe that unicorns once roamed this planet. And just like that, in they went. (Those blueberries later found their way into a glorious adult smoothie, so it worked out in the end.)

As they sat in the oven, baking in actual scone shapes and not sad little piles of dough, I had an internal debate. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are so amazing together. But would they work on a scone? I mean, who would want vinegar on a scone. It just sounds weird. It’s not like it’s white vinegar in the dough for baking soda to get all active and do its thing. It’s their for flavor. And as much as I would love to, I don’t buy the super fancy schmancy balscamic vinegars that come in adorable but ridiculously priced tiny little bottles. But we are in this together. And so, for you, I went for it. If it didn’t work out, I didn’t have to tell you. I wouldn’t take a picture. You would never know. So I made the icing and drizzled a little on a scone. I took a bite. I fell in love. Perfection. There’s enough powdered sugar to reduce the acidic and vinegary taste of the balsamic, plus you’re not dipping the whole scone in the icing. Just little extra bursts of flavor.

There I sat, extremely pleased with this second batch of butterless scones (well, sort of), and the massive scone mound from a week earlier began to fade away. All was right with the world again.

Strawberry Basil Scones with Balsamic Icing
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Print Recipe
Light and airy scones filled with sweet strawberries and fresh basil combine to create an uplifting start to the day.
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 30 minutes
Cook Time
24 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 30 minutes
Cook Time
24 minutes
Strawberry Basil Scones with Balsamic Icing
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Light and airy scones filled with sweet strawberries and fresh basil combine to create an uplifting start to the day.
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 30 minutes
Cook Time
24 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 30 minutes
Cook Time
24 minutes
Ingredients
Strawberry Basil Scone
Balsamic Icing
Servings: scones
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and in that mixing bowl, weigh out the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, strawberries and basil. Use a whisk to combine everything. If you are using a stand or hand mixer, you can chop your strawberries into larger pieces and during the whole mixing process, the berries will break down in size. If you are mixing by hand, make sure to chop the strawberries a little smaller.
  3. In a small liquid measure, combine the butter and the heavy cream. When you add melted butter to cold things, it will look curdled. Just give it a little whisk to smooth it out somewhat (it will never really be perfectly smooth).
  4. While mixing the dry ingredients, slowly add in the wet ingredients. Before you add in all the liquid, make sure the dough is coming together and give it a squeeze test. If the dough comes together and holds easily when squeezed, it's ready. If it feels a bit dry and still crumbles on you, continue adding in the liquid.
  5. Once the dough comes together, flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Knead it just a few times to smooth it all out. The dough should feel nice and soft but not sticky.
  6. Sometimes, when I don't feel like dirtying up a rolling pin, I just pat the dough out into the shape I want. Either way will work. In the end, you want to get a 9-inch circle that is about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Obviously, you can adjust this to your liking.
  7. Use a large chef's knife to cut the entire circle of dough in half. And then each half in half and keep going until you have 8 evenly cut triangular scones with rounded edges.
  8. Lovingly place your scones onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Make a little egg wash with 1 egg yolk & 1 tablespoon of heavy cream (or if you have any leftover liquid for the scones, whisk an egg yolk into that). Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash. Lastly, sprinkle the top of each scone with a little sugar (if you have Vanilla Sugar on hand, this is a great time to use it).
  9. Pop the tray of scones into the oven and set a time for 12 minutes. Clean up your mess and make a cup of coffee. When the timer goes off, rotate the tray and set it for 12 minutes again. Maybe take this time to read the morning news or catch up with Hoda & Kathie Lee.
  10. Once the timer goes off, check on the scones. Obviously. They may need a few more minutes, or they might be ready for cooling. The tops should be a lightly golden brown and if you lift one up (use a spatula or fork or something so you don't burn yourself) and if the bottom is nice and evenly browned, they're done. Otherwise, keep the scones in the oven for 5 minutes intervals until they are done.
  11. Remove the scones from the oven and let them cool.
  12. While they're cooling, let's make the icing. Grab a small bowl and measure out the powdered sugar and the balsamic vinegar into it. Use a whisk to blend them together until smooth. Scoop the whisk into the glaze and lift it up. If it just sits there, then you need to add more liquid. If it runs back into the bowl and very little clings to the tines of the whisk, then more powdered sugar is needed. If it slowly flows back into the bowl, then it's perfect. If you need to add more liquid, add the extra heavy cream. But don't add it all at once. Add it 1 teaspoon at a time, whisking it smooth and checking the fluidity of the icing after each addition. The same would go for the powdered sugar, except add in 1 tablespoon at a time.
  13. When your icing is perfect, use either a fork or the whisk to drizzle the icing over the scones. Alternatively, you can fill a little parchment cone, pastry bag or a squeeze bottle with the icing and squeeze out some beautiful lines on top. I prefer the more rustic approach.
  14. Let the scones sit for a bit with the icing, if you can resist temptation, until the icing hardens up a bit. Then, go ahead and eat them all.
Recipe Notes

You can easily make these scones dairy free if you want. I guess in that case they would even be vegan. But I'd rather not talk about that. Let's just stick to "dairy free" for now. If you want to do that, just replace the heavy cream with any milk substitute. Personally, I love the Half & Half substitutes made from coconut or almond milk. For the butter, either leave it out completely, or just replace with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. For the egg wash, leave out the egg and just brush the tops with your dairy substitute. Voila! Dairy free!

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