Strawberry season is starting! Strawberry season is starting! You'll find me stuffing strawberries in my face from now until the last pints leave the farmers' market. These scones are a riff on one of my favorite combos: fresh strawberries dipped in sour cream and coated with brown sugar. They're just the thing for a lazy weekend brunch with the windows open and bottomless cups of coffee close by.
This is still one of my favorite recipes to make this time of year — one of those where you'll be picking the crumbs off the plate and wondering if one more scone is a good idea. (Yes. It is.) The scones have just the right tanginess from the sour cream and the strawberries melt into jammy little pockets. I love the little bit of crunch the brown sugar topping adds to each bite.
Working those strawberries into the dough can feel a little daunting. As with any scone recipe, a delicate hand is crucial, though it's doubly important in this recipe so that the strawberries don't get squashed. This said, everything always seems to turn out just fine, even when I think that I overhandled the dough. If any strawberries fall out while you're folding the dough, just press them right back in. Don't worry about the berries that end up with exposed edges — they'll bake just fine.
I've changed and refined this recipe quite a bit over the years. I pulled back on the liquids to keep the dough from getting too wet and sticky. I also added a step to chill the dough before cutting the scones, which I find is helpful for getting a good rise in the oven and a tender crumb. I've also tweaked the steps to make them a little clearer and easier to follow.
If you haven't made this one since we first posted it, now is the year to bring it back. This is the perfect recipe to make with the first pint of berries you pick up at the market. -Emma
Strawberry-Sour Cream Scones with Brown Sugar Crumble
For the scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup roughly chopped strawberries (about 1/2 of a pint basket)
For the topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Dice the butter into small cubes and toss with the flour mixture. Work the butter into the flour with a fork or pastry cutter until it looks like coarse bread crumbs.
Whisk together the sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the sour cream mixture into the well. Using a wooden spoon or stiff spatula, mix and fold the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture. Be as gentle as possible.
When almost all the flour has been incorporated (it's ok if there's still loose flour at the bottom of the bowl), turn the dough out onto the counter. Pat it into a wide rectangle and sprinkle half of the strawberries over half the dough. Fold the dough over onto itself and pat again into a wide rectangle. Sprinkle the remaining strawberries over half the dough and fold it over itself again. Fold it once or twice more to work in the strawberries, being as gentle as possible so as not to smoosh the strawberries. If any strawberries fall out, press them into the top.
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment or Silpat. Shape it into a disk roughly 1-inch thick. (Or divide the dough and shape into two small disks to make small-sized scones.) Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
A half hour before baking, heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the flour and brown sugar for the topping, and then work in the butter using a fork until it becomes a smooth paste.
Remove the scones from the refrigerator. Crumble the topping evenly over the surface of the scones. Use a bench scraper or pizza wheel to slice the disk into 8 equal-sized wedges. Reposition the wedges on the baking sheet to put a few inches of space between each scone.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the scones are firm on the sides and golden-brown on the top. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These scones are best on the day that they're made. If you're planning on keeping them for several days, skip the topping (which will absorb moisture and get mushy) and instead spread the tops with soft butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar just before eating.
Try this recipe with any other berries or chopped fruit as the summer season rolls onward — peaches, blackberries, even diced apples come fall!
This recipe has been updated from the original. First published 05/21/2009.
(Image: Emma Christensen)