*Living in Scotland, a place known for its love – nay, worship – of homey baked goods, fresh fruit scones are not common. Actually, in all the twenty-something years that I have lived here, I have yet to encounter one. I’m assuming someone here makes them, maybe sells them. But I don’t get out much. Maybe in Glasgow you can hardly get down the pavement without tripping over fresh fruit scones.
In Edinburgh at least, when you see ‘fruit scone’ on a menu or, increasingly likely, on a retro blackboard propped up outside an aggressively trendy cafe, it denotes dried fruit. Mainly currants or sultanas, but sometimes more ‘exotic’ dried cherry, or cranberry is spotted. Chuck in some white chocolate and you can charge nearly double. Snarky, but true.
Perhaps fresh fruit in scones seems profligate. Fresh fruit is less varied and more expensive than in many other (warmer) countries, so to put it in something commonplace like a scone may seem a bit weird. Something ‘other people’ do.
The first time I remember asking for a fruit scone – in a rather fuddy-duddy teashop called Clarinda’s, near where I used to stay as a mid ’80s student – I was surprised to bite in and hit something rather chewy and dried up, rather than soft and yielding. Having never eaten a proper scone (which I would’ve ‘mispronounced’ with a long o, I’m sure) it never crossed my mind that this indigenous scone wouldn’t have some mysterious Scottish fruit inside. Possibly tasting of another indigenous food stuff, Irn Bru. But at least it came with a dainty pot of clotted cream (another new thing for me) and jam. And it was good, once I got over the shock of this new definition of fruit.
I had a lot to learn back then. Like ‘pants’ meaning ‘underwear’, and ‘school’ meaning just that, ‘school’: not university. I would cringe to hear fellow Americans blather on about the fact that they were studying hard (or not) at ‘school’, knowing that it just made them sound like they’d flunked a few years and were still hard at it at the ripe old age of 20. During my first year in Edinburgh, with my Doc Martens and my artfully ripped tights née pantyhose, I pretty much kept my mouth shut and concentrated on how to pronounce extremely hard to pronounce words, such as Buccleuch (buh-kloo) and Brougham (bruf-um).
And I also ate a lot of bad food. Pre-90s the food in Edinburgh was pretty dreadful. Particularly offensive to this die-hard salad head was the ubiquitous iceberg lettuce and cold, cold bullet-hard tomato salads garnished with tinned corn, a tinned pineapple ring(!), and a great white blob of the mysterious salad cream. My mind still has a hard time with the juxtaposition of those last two words. So dried fruit entombed in scones was actually quite a treat. But I still thought someone should make them with fresh fruit.
Fast forward to the next century. Um, millenium. I have finally got round to fulfilling this modest desire for myself. And I have the stretchy trousers (not pants!) to prove it.
I actually ticked this culinary box a couple of years ago with some ‘plain’ fresh raspberry scones, having seen a good-looking recipe in an American magazine while visiting family in Florida. I no longer have that cutting but recently I have been seeing more references to such scones on Pinterest, and thought I’d give them another bash. I was inspired to make today’s combination as I love raspberries and peaches together, and they are coming into season here and on the near-continent, respectively. I was then poking around in my stash of barely used baking stuff, some of it hanging around since before Christmas, and saw the marzipan I keep for Christmas cakes (which I did not make this year). I am not overly keen on marzipan as a fondant-covered slab on an already dense cake, but I thought that in little modest motes it would make a good flavour pairing with the fruit. I am cheating a bit here by calling it frangipane, as frangipane is more a cream-like filling, with eggs and butter joining the almond flour, whereas marzipan is a pliable almond and glucose paste that you can make nifty animals out of, if you go in for that sort of thing.
But frangipane sounds so much nicer, and is of course a lovely flower. I used an organic one that is minimally sweet, but use whatever you have. You are only adding a small amount so don’t worry that it is so sweet. It really does go very well with the ‘peach melba’ flavours.
Now, does anyone have a big blackboard (chalkboard!) I can borrow?
A couple of tbsps Demerara sugar, for tops (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line two trays with baking paper or Silpat.
In a food processor pulse together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the cold, diced butter and pulse until baby pea-sized pieces form. You can also do this by hand with a pastry cutter or cool fingers.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk; add to the processor and pulse until just mixed. Or, – what I did – turn the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and pour in the wet mixture, drawing it all together with a knife (this keeps the hands from warming the dough – a cardinal sin in scone making). You are aiming for a rough dough; one just barely able to call itself a dough.
Upend the dough onto a floured surface and push down to about 1 inch thickness with cool hands. Mound over the fruit and marzipan. Knead a few times to amalgamate the fruit – it will be hopelessly messy and pieces will fall out, so just shove them back in. Pat the dough gently into a square-ish shape and use a floured knife to cut into about 14-18 small scones about ¾ inch thick. Pop the pieces onto two baking paper-lined trays and sprinkle with the crunchy sugar, if using. Some of the scones will be quite wet looking, but don’t worry they will bake well and the sugars released will go all caramelly in the high heat – mmm.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes – be prepared for longer for some of the scones. Swap the trays around about halfway through. At about 15 minutes start checking to see if some need coming out sooner, as invariably there will be some with less fruit than others. Let the scones cool a bit on their trays, perhaps transferring to baking racks after a couple of minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. No extra butter or jam needed!
* add 1/2 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to the liquid if using vegan equivalent ; ** can omit the egg yolk but scones are more tender with this addition.
Makes 14-18 small scones. Reheat day-old scones briefly in the oven (5 minutes at 180C/350F). You can freeze these unbaked; just add a little extra time when baking.
Other ‘fruity bakes’ on food to glow (see Index for more!):
And another scone recipe…Savoury Beetroot & Cheese Loveheart Scones