Along with all the lovely growing, blooming things that herald spring is the baby in our home! Isabelle is three months today and I think she may have hit her growth spurt early. She’s a chubby bundle now!
The whole, “I swear she grew overnight” thing happened to me – last Monday I looked at her and thought, “Your face is way rounder than yesterday!”And all of a sudden her newborn-sized clothes were too tight for her. I guess our worries about her being a tiny newborn and not getting enough to eat have been thoroughly erased.
Three months is a great time with the baby: she’s truly no longer a newborn and I can see her becoming more aware of her world, and more interactive every day. She looks at her hanging toys and reaches for them, she cranes her head to focus on the overhead lights in rooms, she watches me puttering around the kitchen and coos in curiosity. She can roll over (proud mommy moment!), she’s getting into the hand sucking thing, and she does a mean karate kick to your belly if you’re not careful (she’s long-legged so we call her grasshopper baby).
The most amazing thing, of course, is that she recognizes me. She’ll focus on my face before anything else, she likes to hear me talking and singing to her, and if she sees me walking away, she’ll howl in protest. Not so great for my productivity, but there’s nothing to reawaken your sense of awe and joy than to see your baby smiling up at you. I’ve had many moms tell me how hard it was to go back to work at the typical three-month mark, as that’s when babies usually start being really interesting. I totally get it now – not that I don’t think she’ll be endlessly fascinating in all the months to come, but I feel very lucky that I’ll be able to stay with Isabelle for another month before I’m back in the office. Can three months have really passed so quickly? I guess 11+ pounds of baby say yes!
So in the spirit of spring and happy growing things, I picked up some irresistibly gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make with them, but my husband provided the inspiration when he asked me to make some ginger scones. I did, (and this post is not about them!), but then I got the idea to put the strawberries and rhubarb in a scone. Not surprisingly, these days I’m into things that can be made quickly and easily, and these scones fit the bill perfectly.
Cutting the strawberries and rhubarb into fine dice.
The perfect thing about scones is that they freeze wonderfully; in fact, that’s recommended protocol for scone dough since scones don’t keep well at all, and what’s the point of eating a scone if you can’t enjoy that fluffy, fresh-baked texture and the sugar-crisp top? When I worked in the bakery, we would make an entire sheet pan full of scone dough, score it into triangles, and freeze the whole pan. Every morning we’d bake off a half dozen or so to sell for the day. I think the utter freezability of scones only enhances their ease of making. When you’re caught on a sudden whim to make scones for tea, there’s no need to fear the extras will go to waste: you can just make the scones you need and freeze the rest instead.
I cut my scones into wedges, but you can also use a biscuit cutter to cut out round scones. Either way, make sure the knife or cutter edges are sharp so you can cut straight through the dough, without needing to run the knife back and forth or twist the cutter. The clean cuts will let your scones rise higher, with distinct fluffy layers.
Although these aren’t classic British scones, I love the British tradition of scones and clotted cream. Here, I did a play on strawberry shortcake with whipped cream by putting a dollop of vanilla whipped cream on top of the scones. The vanilla extract I used is from Heilala.
Founded in 2002 by New Zealand dairy farmer John Ross, Heilala is the only plantation-to-pantry grower and manufacturer of vanilla. They use no traders or distributors, reducing costs and unnecessary handling. Their vanilla plantation is located in the Vava’u Islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, making this the only vanilla from Tonga (the beans are of the Bourbon variety).
Whipped cream is actually a wonderful way to taste test vanilla – the cream provides a neutral base that conveys the vanilla flavor across without distraction. I found Heilala to have a very bright, round floral flavor. It is distinctive enough that I would use it in a recipe that features the flavor, like this whipped cream or ice cream or a pudding, instead of hiding it in a cookie or cake, although it would definitely make fantastic cookies or cakes as well.
With sunny spring in full effect here, it’s nice to bring in a bit of a tropical breeze as well with some island-grown vanilla extract. Scones with cream and a sunny afternoon with baby is pretty much perfection right now!
Disclosure: I received a sample of vanilla extract from Heilala for review. All opinions are my own.
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-in pieces
- 1/2 cup (70 g) chopped strawberries
- 1/2 cup (70 g) chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup (230 g) heavy cream
Vanilla Whipped Cream
- 1 cup (230 g) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the scones:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Add in butter and work in with two knifes, a pastry cutter, or just your fingers (my favorite). Don't use your entire hands as they will melt the butter and you are trying to keep the pieces cold and separate. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs with larger pea-sized pieces.
- Add in strawberries and rhubarb and toss to distribute and coat with flour.
- Pour in cream and fold gently with a wooden spoon just until the mixture comes together. You don't want to overmix.
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface and form into a rough circle about 6 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Cut into six wedges with a sharp knife.
- Place scones on baking sheet and bake for about 12-14 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Remove and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving.
For the whipped cream:
- Combine ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer. Whip just to soft peaks.
Other ways with strawberries and rhubarb: