I avoided scones for most of my life. They were high-fat. Bland. Boring.
But scones magically changed when I savoured my first one with David. They were our courting food.
We used to walk down to the Mercury Coffee Shop in Leslieville hand-in-hand, Kobe in tow. David would ask if I’d like a “bakery item” and I’d laugh and giggle like a star-struck teenager. We both had our hearts set on a certain scone that always sold out first: Lemon Ginger.
Little knobs of spicy-sweet ginger interspersed with lemon zest made for rich mouthfuls, melting our hungry hearts. These scones had just the right amount of heft. They weren’t one of those feather-light imposters that kept you guessing where the flavour was – but a divine elixir of butter, cream and flour.
We were in love.
Kobe, our elderly dog, was not. He hated waiting outside the coffee shop tied to a pole and made sure we knew his misery well with ceaseless barking.
That didn’t bother Sexy Santa one iota. Our favourite barista, his bushy long beard hiding his neck and cascading over his sternum, mindfully worked the espresso machine while we watched and waited, clutching the crinkly, white paper bag containing the last Lemon Ginger scone of the day.
Of course, they carried our favourite scone only three days of the week. It always sold out, leaving us wanting. Its rarity made every bite, every crumb, remarkable.
Like all good things, it didn’t last. Our barista packed up and moved to the west coast. A dreamy look used to cloud his face whenever he said “Vancouver” and “coffee beans” in the same sentence — then he left.
Kobe stopped barking and was laid to rest one cold March evening in our kitchen, his favourite room of the house, near his bowl and on his dog bed, tears streaming down our cheeks and the palliative vet’s as she inserted the needle into his thigh.
Without a Sexy Santa, the lattes just didn’t taste the same. Without Kobe, a leash-less, bark-less walk was unimaginable. The lemon ginger scone was forgotten.
Until one winter morning when I awoke with a craving and started to bake even before coffee. My B.C. kitchen was still new and awkward, the drawers and cupboards still confounding. I searched for oats and flour, smiling when I thought of their providence and mine. The butter and cream was locally produced, too. I figured everything but the dried ginger, lemons and sugar had been tilled, or milked, or churned on Vancouver Island and I was ready to recreate the scone we’d found in downtown Toronto.
Without a food processor, I used a pastry cutter to fragment the butter into tiny, pea size morsels. I didn’t sweat the fat content and poured on the whipping cream. I cribbed a scone recipe from Fanny Farmer and marveled at its low sugar content. I mixed and played and baked, making indelible marks on my nascent kitchen’s unfamiliarity and came out with a bakery item that is almost as good as our courting one.
Lemon Ginger Scones
So simple and easy, you can make these first thing in the morning for a decadent and maybe romantic breakfast.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Zest of one lemon
4 tbsp cold butter, unsalted, diced
½ cup dried ginger, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven 450 F
In a medium bowl or food processor, mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
Cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or pulse in food processor until the size of small peas. Add ginger.
In a small bowl beat eggs with cream. Mix in lemon juice.
Fold egg mixture into dry mixture until just combined.
Mound dough in the middle of a baking sheet lined with parchment. Pat into an 8-inch diameter circle. With a large knife, cut the dough into half, quarters and eighths, wedging the knife down to the parchment paper and creating a decorative ¼-inch space between scones slices.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Transfer baked scone mound on parchment to a wire rack and allow to cool 5-10 min before serving.