I came across this recipe and some notes to go with it, dated fall 2009 – on a day the week before Thanksgiving when in the morning I shoved a ham inside a turkey in a very unladylike manner on live national TV and then hung out in the hallway with the Wiggles at Canada AM, but was too shy/awkward to actually talk to them. This is not a typical day for me.
A typical day – if there is such a thing – almost always involves trying to use up something from the fridge rather than throw it out. Unglamorous, but true. On this particular morning, having arrived home from a week in Toronto to find two containers of cream, another two of sour cream and one of yogurt at their expiration date, baking was on the agenda. Convenient, since this is something I aspire to most weekend mornings anyway.
Back in the day, soured cream was the ingredient of choice when making biscuits. It was a natural consequence of living on a farm, or acquiring dairy products from one, and when food was a little tougher to come by, everything got used. Turns out it’s ideal, even when fresh cream (or milk, or buttermilk) is an option – some recipes call for cream to be artificially soured with the addition of a capful of lemon juice or vinegar. Of course your cream doesn’t have to have turned – and if it pours out in lumps, perhaps it is destined to be tossed – but if you have some that’s been in the fridge awhile, or perhaps its best-before date prompts you to sniff it, you may be more comfortable using it in your baking than in your coffee.
This recipe makes two big slab scones, each which can be cut into wedges or slices as thick or thin as you like. It’s just as easy to make two, so why not surprise your neighbour by showing up on their doorstep with a warm slab scone?
The dough is rolled square, spread with any sort of jam or preserves – I used not-too-sweet strawberries and rhubarb I had simmered with sugar until it was soft, to make Eton Mess.
Fold it over in thirds, like a letter, to enclose the filling. Pretend you want to mail it to someone.
Transfer your packages to a baking sheet and if you like, brush their tops with a little extra milk or cream, and sprinkle with sugar – coarse, if you have it.
Bake until the house smells great, then cut into wedges while it’s still warm.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Slab Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, half & half or milk, or thinned plain yogurt
1/2-3/4 cup jam or preserves
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend using a pastry cutter or fork, or pulse the food processor until the mixture is combined but there are still bits of butter no bigger than a pea.
If you’re using a food processor, dump the mixture out into a bowl. Add the buttermilk, cream or milk, and stir just until the dough comes together. Divide it in half, and on a floured surface roll each piece into a 10″ square. Spread the jam in a strip down the middle third, and fold each half over it, overlapping like a letter. If you like, brush the tops with a little extra milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. To serve, cut into thick slices, or triangle-shaped wedges by cutting at alternating angles. Makes about 16 scones.