You’re probably wondering what could have possessed me to come up with this recipe for Blackberry Fontina Basil Scones.
It’s simple. They were inspired by an obsession. An obsession with a particular grilled cheese sandwich from Jessica over at How Sweet It Is. It’s been three years since her post and I’m still crazy over that sandwich. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but this sandwich…ugh. So good. I even posted it on instagram last year. Yes, if I could write a love song to a sandwich, I might start with some heartfelt lyrics about this one.
There’s something about the combination of sweet blackberries, slightly minty basil and creamy fontina that gets oh so melty on top of some chewy, crusty, hearty bread. If the blackberries are a little tart, well, I just drizzle a little honey on top and all is right with the world.
So I thought, why not take those flavors and make one of my favorite things…a scone! We’re just gonna eliminate the bread and add a bunch of flour, butter and cream. Thank you. I know. It’s genius. I’ve been meaning to post another berry scone, ever since I made Fresh Strawberry Cream Scones. That is one delicious scone; it tastes like strawberry short cake, but in scone form.
This one is different, but no less delicious. I reduced the sugar because this is sort of a savory and sweet scone. When the fontina meets the blackberries, it’s kind of like blackberry cheesecake. Think of my Goat Cheese with Honeyed Fruit and Nuts. That almost tastes like dessert, but the cheese hasn’t been sweetened. It doesn’t need to. It gets bathed in honey. This is a similar idea, but now we’re working with fontina.
I’m going to show you a few of the mixing steps because often, people will think that they need to add more liquid. Unless you normally have to add more liquid to recipes because of your climate, I’m here to tell you that it’s not necessary. We’re not making a wet batter, but a butter rich dough. The amount of butter and cream will keep it plenty moist. Trust me.
Making the dough for Blackberry Fontina Basil Scones:
Bowl #1- Here I’ve already mixed my dry ingredients and cut the butter in until it’s various sizes, no larger than peas. I tossed in the cubed cheese, then the basil and finally added my sliced blackberries. There is a process by which you can add the blackberries later, kind of rolling them up sort of like cinnamon rolls, but I really wanted them fully incorporated into the dough.
Bowl#2- This shows the mixture with the cheese, basil and blackberries fully coated with the dry ingredients.
Bowl#3- This is what my dough looks like after I’ve added my wet ingredients (cream, egg and vanilla) You’ll see that it’s not completely wet. The liquids have been nicely distributed, though. You’ll think that you need to add more cream. But you really don’t have to. You just need to bring the dough together. It’s at this point, that I put my hands in the bowl and lightly knead the mixture to bring it together. I kind of squeeze the mixture lightly pressing the dry bits into the middle, flip the mixture over so that the the dryer bits on the bottom come up over on the top and lightly squeeze/press again. If you get too crazy with it, you’ll obliterate your blackberries. So be gentle and just repeat the process until the dough comes together with no dry bits hanging around the bowl. There’s enough butter and cream in the bowl to bring it together.
That’s it. Form it into a square about an inch thick. The shape doesn’t really matter. You could form it into a circle, if you wanted to. Just pat it into your favorite shape that’s an inch thick. I like to do this on a large piece of plastic wrap that’s lightly dusted with flour. It’s going to be a little soft from handling, so, once you have it formed into your desired shape, wrap it up in the plastic wrap and place it in the freezer until the butter is nice and firm, about 30-60 minutes. You just want it firm enough to get nice clean cuts.
Once you’ve cut it, arrange your pieces a couple of inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and brush with a little cream. Bake until lightly golden. Normally I would either sprinkle some raw sugar on top before baking or drizzle some glaze on them after they’ve baked and cooled. Instead, after baking, I drizzled honey on them, just as I do with the sandwich. It was delicious, but honestly, it was just as good without.
This scone was different than all the rest. It may not be the most beautiful of all of the scones, but it is delish. It’s the first one I’ve posted with cheese and the first one with less sugar. And, this scone is best hot out of the oven or reheated and eaten hot. It’s when it’s hot that the cheese melts and becomes a perfect partner to the basil and blackberries. The cheese makes it heartier than my other sweeter scones. You could serve it with a salad and call it lunch. (I made some tea and called it amazing afternoon snack.) My family loved it. I even asked them if they thought it needed to be sweeter, but they all thought it was perfect as is. And if you were hankering for a sweeter scone, you could either add more sugar to the dough, or just drizzle on some delicious honey. (I had some black sage honey that was perfect, but any honey will do.)
So if the sandwich is deserving of a love song, perhaps these Blackberry Basil Fontina Scones should have a little poem? Um, yeah, I’ll get right on that…
I just need a little more “inspiration” first :)
Blackberry Fontina Basil Scones
For the scone:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup cubed fontina cheese about 1/4" cubes
- 1 cup of sliced fresh blackberries patted dry with paper towels
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup or more of heavy cream
- extra cream for brushing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, two knives or you can rub the butter in with your fingertips, until the mixture is crumbly and you have varied size butter chunks no larger than peas.
Toss chopped basil and cubed cheese in flour mixture until pieces are coated and separated from clumping together. Add sliced blackberries and lightly toss until berries are coated in flour mixture.
Crack an egg in a glass measuring cup, beat it with a fork until yolk and white are combined, then add cream until you reach 3/4 cup. Mix with a fork until well blended.
Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in the egg/cream mixture. Toss gently with a fork until you've distributed the liquid well and mixture begins to hold together a bit. Your mixture is going to seem to be too dry, but try to resist adding more liquid.
Use your hands to gently mix/lightly knead the mixture in the bowl until it comes together. You don't want to crush your berries and you don't want to melt the butter, so if you have hot hands, try using a large spoon or a spatula to fold the mixture onto itself in between using your hands.
Once the dough comes together with no crumbs, on a lightly floured surface, pat it into a large square or circle about 1 inch thick. I like to do this on a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap.
Once you have your dough patted into a shape, wrap it up in the plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the butter has had a chance to firm up. You want it to be firm so you can get nice clean cuts.
Using a floured sharp knife, cut into 8 triangles, wedges or your desired scone shape and place on an ungreased baking sheet leaving 1-2" of space between for spreading.
Brush tops of unbaked scones with additional cream.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool for just a few minutes, then serve. They are best when hot enough for cheese to be melty. Drizzle with honey if desired.
*Store at room temperature covered. I wrapped mine in foil. They are best day one and two and taste best hot out of an oven. They reheat nicely in a toaster oven or you could use your main oven.
*I cut the fontina into 1/4" cubes. This worked well for making sure they were well distributed throughout the dough. I think I might try cutting them a bit larger next time. I think it would be nice to hit some larger pockets of cheese.
*You don't have to go crazy patting your berries dry. I just sliced them up and pressed them gently between paper towels to soak up excess moisture. Then I let them sit on the paper towels until I was ready for them.
*If you like a sweeter scone, you could increase the sugar to 1/3 or even 1/2 cup. I think this scone is best using the 1/4 cup of sugar then drizzling honey for additional sweetness.
*The basil adds a lovely flavor. My measurement was for fully packed tablespoons. Once you taste the baked scone, you can adjust for more or less basil the next time you make them. I actually thought I could add a little bit more.
The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2016
Monday 20th of June 2016
I don't know why, but I've never really eaten scones. Also, I sort of have an aversion to blackberries, maybe because my mother went blackberry crazy when I was a kid. This recipe caught my attention because we have blackberries and the rest of the family eats them. Because I have tons of mint and bunnies keep eating my basil, do you think mint would work as well in this recipe?
Monday 20th of June 2016
You can absolutely use mint. Or you could just omit it. Mint sometimes has a stronger flavor so use it sparingly if you do use it. If it's spearmint I would skip it because you dont want your scones to taste like chewing gum. I hope this recipe changes your feeling about blackberries!
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Wednesday 11th of May 2016
I like the way you cut those! I usually think of a circle and cutting it that way. I like the square cut.
Wednesday 11th of May 2016
Sometimes I do circles, but I often do squares. It's easy if I want to make 16 instead of 8. Then I just cut them all in half for mini scones.