Blackberries are abundant in the fields and lanes. What better way to spend a late summer’s day than blackberrying and then making Blackberry Scones to enjoy with a cup of tea? A great way to get the kids involved too.
My grandfather always told me not to pick the blackberries at the bottom because dogs might have peed on them. This week I discovered another hazard.
My greyhound, Billy, who is very picky about his food, and has never knowingly eaten fruit or veg, suddenly started gobbling the blackberries from the bush while I was picking them. In all the years I’ve been picking berries while taking him for a walk I’ve never known him to show any interest, but for some reason, wild blackberries are his new favourite food. So don’t pick below greyhound head height.
Blackberries – wild or store-bought
A dry summer affects wild blackberries. They aren’t as big or juicy as usual, but they are ideal for making Blackberry Scones. And the really brilliant thing about scones is that less than 45 minutes from thinking about them they will be ready to eat, piping hot from the oven, ready for the butter to melt.
If you get carried away with picking too many blackberries, wash them, dry on kitchen paper and spread on a tray to freeze. Keep in a plastic box or bag for 6 months (although I’m still using last year’s bumper harvest and they’re fine). Use in crumbles or pies.
The flavour of any bake is better with butter.
Secrets of Success
Fresh fruit in scones
The problem with using fresh fruit in cakes and biscuits is that the moisture in them is variable, and too much can stop cakes or scones rising properly, or can make biscuits fall apart. (That’s why I use dried raspberries in White Chocolate & Raspberry Cookies.) Blackberries from a dry summer are ideal for scones though. If you’re buying blackberries, they may still be big and juicy, so will cook a bit differently.
Use frozen butter
I picked up this tip only recently and it has changed the way I make scones. You grate the butter into the flour and then rub it in as usual. The rubbing-in time is greatly reduced and seems much easier. I suppose it’s because the butter is in such small pieces.
It’s worth keeping a block of butter in the freezer for scone-making. Grate what you need then put the rest back for next time. There’s always something new to learn!
How long do scones keep?
Blackberry Scones, like all scones, are best eaten on the day you make them. They will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze as soon as they are cool for up to 3 months.
- I now use an IQ lemon zester. It collects the zest and doesn’t grate my knuckles, so the whole process is less painful and less messy.
- Silicone baking mat – Since I bought these mats I’ve used them every time I bake on a tray. You reduce the washing up, as they go into the dishwasher, you don’t have to grease them as they’re totally non-stick, and you don’t need extra flour to roll out on them.
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- 1 large egg
- 1 lemon, zested
- 200 g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (5ml)
- ½ teaspoon salt (2.5ml)
- 50 g frozen butter
- 50 g caster sugar
- 100 g blackberries
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan/ gas mark 7/ 425°F
- Grease a large baking sheet with butter or use a silicone baking mat
- Put the egg into a measuring jug or cup and make up the volume with milk to 125ml. Beat with a fork until the egg is incorporated
- Grate the rind from the lemon.
For the Blackberry Scones:
- Add the salt and baking powder to the flour and stir well. Grate the butter and rub into the flour until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs
- Stir in the sugar and lemon rind. Add the egg/milk mixture, reserving 1 teaspoon (5ml) to glaze the scones, and mix to give a fairly sticky dough
- Add the blackberries and mix them in gently with your handsBlackberries are very delicate so don't overmix
- Coat your hands in flour and mould the dough into a disc. Place on the baking sheet and flatten with your hands to make a circle of about 17cm (7 ins.) in diameter
- Cut the disc into 8 portions and move them apart on the baking sheet. They're sticky so you'll need to use a palette knife or fish slice to move them. Neaten the edges if you like and brush the tops with the extra egg/milk mix
- Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200°C/ 180°C fan/ gas mark 6/ 400°F and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until slightly brown on top
- Cool on a wire rack, or serve when still warm with butter or cream.