Scones with Blueberries and Preserved Lemon

So what is a pirate to do when they wake up craving scones but the New Orleans weather is more Panama Canal than English Chanel?  Turn up the galley fan to combat the 400-degree oven, load them with fruit and serve them cold with a salad.  A pirate shan’t be denied her baked goods.  I was already cogitating excitedly about how best to use the gorgeous pint of Louisiana blueberries I had just picked up, so a galley plan was in the works…

Searching for a good dinner-salad accompaniment, I hit on a watermelon and preserved lemon recipe that sounded delightful in the 87-degree approach to sunset.  And last year when the first frost was threatening I preserved two quarts of Captain Peter’s mom’s beautiful Meyer lemons.  So why not put them in the scones as well?  Reducing the sugar from normal scone recipes, I ended up with a lovely not-too-sweet though fruity scone that satisfied that need for baked good, but went well with supper.

Scones with Blueberries and Preserved Lemon

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 pint blueberries
1/2 preserved lemon

Start by preheating your galley oven to 400 degrees.  (Like I said…turn that fan up and suffer for your art, pirate.)

You can buy preserved lemons at the grocery, but they are easy to do yourself if you have icebox space.  They are nothing but quartered lemons layered with coarse salt and left — with the occasional shake — for several weeks until they’ve, well, preserved.  The ones you’re looking at above are 6+ months old — the salt keeps them from rotting, takes the biting edge out of the citrus, and just leaves this deep lemon flavor.  You need to pull the pulp out, and rinse the rind — which is the part you will use — to get as much salt off of it as possible.  But also bear in mind it will add some saltiness to the recipe.  If you don’t have preserved lemons, you can use lemon zest as well — it’ll give that citrus hint, though not with the same mellow depth — just add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients if you do.You will need to finely chop the rind of two preserved lemon quarters (mine are doubled, above, because I was doing the salad right afterward and why chop something twice).  An ulu is great for this, but because I use mine incessantly for garlic, jalapenos, ginger and other aromatics that I didn’t want imparted to my fruity baked goods, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap for this task.Next do EVERYTHING you can before the butter — you’re going to get your hands really messy, so get everything else teed up: whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.  Measure out 2/3 cup buttermilk.  Have the washed and mostly-dried blueberries and finely-chopped lemon rind ready.  Then, chop the cold  butter into small chunks — ulu works for this too!Now take off your wedding ring, wash your hands well, and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers…Until there are no discernable butter clumps and the mixture is sort of sandy and crumbly.  (By the way, pitty the poor food blogger who has to take pictures in the midst of all this.  My camera will have butter smears forever.)Stir in the blueberries and preserved lemon — be sure to break up the lemon and get it well distributed.  Then add the buttermilk and stir it in thoroughly.  I used the fork for most of this step, but did have to get back in there with my hands to do final distribution and make it all come together in a ball — do this gently so that you don’t overly crush the berries.Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and flatten it into a thick (about 1″, maybe a bit more) round, kind of nudging the edges back to round and intact, but not smooth…the lumpy, flaky edges are maybe the most delicious part of the finishd scone!  Cut this like a pie into 6 or 8 wedges–that ulu works for this too!  The ulu … it’s the galley equivalent of duct tape at home, or bungee cords up top…if it wasn’t for someone inventing the marlin spike, I’d toss my ulu up to the Captain to see what dilemmas it might solve on deck!Transfer the scones to a parchment lined baking sheet — this is one of the times that parchment paper REALLY makes a difference vs. tinfoil or just the pan — it will help crisp the bottoms.  Brush the tops with additional buttermilk.Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops begin to brown a bit.  Hang your head over these and take a deep breath when they come out of the oven…this is what you woke up craving, right?

Serve warm with butter, or let them cool to accompany a salad for dinner.  The less-sweet nature of these compliments the salad and lets all the fruit flavors come through both, but if you want to sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar before putting them in the oven, you can get that sweet crunch that is … also a favorite.  Enjoy the sunset, whatever canal or chanel your vessel is in!

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