How to properly pronounce the word “scone” is hotly debated throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. In that part of the world, where the slightly sweetened, baking-powder leavened, dense but flaky tea-time pastry has deep roots, regional dialects and social class delineations translate into some folks saying ‘skon’ (rhymes with ‘gone’) and others saying ‘skone’ (rhymes with ‘bone’). It is one of the words linguists at Cambridge University use to map how English dialects ebb and flow around the British Isles.

Regardless of how they pronounce it, I am guessing most on the other side of the pond will take issue with what I am about to say: Scones can also be a vehicle for both curbing food waste and sustainably eating local fruit year-round.

Over there, plain, demure circular scones are most often split through the middle and topped with fruit preserves and a bit of clotted cream on occasion. American scones are boldly large and triangular. Having lived in both parts of the world, I enjoy all kinds of scones, but I’m working with the American sort here.

Columnist Christine Burns Rudalevige mixes chilled butter into flour to make scones. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

My first-of-the-season strawberries were a mushy mess by the time they hit my counter. That will teach me to bring both dogs on my walk to the farmers market and back with my reusable bag slung over my shoulder! Having bought a single pint, not enough to make jam or even a pie, I roasted the mangled berries with sliced rhubarb and sugar with no plan for the compote other than having it on hand for breakfast. As afternoon tea on a recent rainy day approached, I craved a scone and pulled out my favorite recipe, one for butternut-sage scones published on Food52.com back in 2010 by Liz Larkin, aka The Scone Lady, who sells all types of flavored scones at the Pound Ridge (New York) farmers market.

I didn’t have the half cup of butternut squash puree Liz’s recipe calls for in the house, but I did have the compote. The substitution worked like a charm, and it got me thinking. You see, I love Liz’s recipe because it turns out lovely scones every time. But I also love her technique in that she has you make the dough, fashion them into eight individual scones and freeze them for about an hour before baking them. Cooking a cream scone from frozen stops the spread, so the result is a high, flaky pastry. But it also gives you the freedom to bake only the number of scones you need. They can keep in the freezer for up to four months.

I could make all sorts of summer berry and ground cherry compotes, stir them into scone dough and freeze them for many breakfasts and tea times to come. Unlike jam, in which the fruit matter is broken up and cooked for a long time into a spreadable form before it’s processed into canning jars, the fruit in compote is cooked quickly, left chunky and often complemented by savory spices, like chilis and black pepper.

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Just before you bake them, brush the scones with cream and sprinkle them with raw sugar. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

While experimenting with this idea, I learned to follow a few rules for making the compote, in order to maintain the right dough consistency.

• One cup of fruit plus 1/4 cup of sugar will yield 1/2 cup of compote and maintain the right ratio for the scone recipe.

• Other than a tablespoon of lemon juice, don’t add any liquid to the pan while making the compote, as the fruit is juicy enough to make this process work.

• Roasting the fruit yields the most flavorful compote, as the sugars caramelize to deepen the taste of the fruit. But it does take a bit longer than just boiling it on the stove.

• Always cool the compote before adding it to the scone dough.

• Don’t over-stir when adding the compote to the dough, as doing so toughens the scones and turns them odd colors.

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The four flavors of scones currently in my freezer are Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb; Cinnamon-Blueberry-Lemon; Raspberry and Rose (add dried rose petals to the compote); and Brown Sugar, Chili and Husk Cherry. If you’re game for this summer fruit preservation technique, do let me know which flavors you fancy.

Local foods advocate Christine Burns Rudalevige is the editor of Edible Maine magazine and author of “Green Plate Special,” both a column about eating sustainably in the Portland Press Herald and the name of her 2017 cookbook. She can be contacted at: [email protected]

Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Scone.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Roasted Strawberry–Rhubarb Scones

Makes 8 scones

1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced rhubarb
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups (10 oz. or 285 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour, more for forming scones
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing on top of scones
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
Raw sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

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Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a small cast iron skillet. Slide the skillet into the oven and roast the fruit, stirring several times, until it starts to break down, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the hot compote to a ceramic bowl and put it in the freezer to cool while you make the dough.

Combine the flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, use your fingers to first coat the butter in flour and then squish the cubes to work them into the dough.

In a large measuring cup, combine the cream, egg and vanilla paste. Mix well. Pour the liquid into the flour-butter mixture. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry with a fork as you gradually turn the bowl. When the dough begins to cohere, add the cooled compote and gently stir it into the dough. Use a plastic bowl scraper to gently knead the dough into a ball shape. Do not overmix.

Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured board. Gently pat into a 6-inch circle. With a pastry scraper or large chef’s knife, cut into 8 triangles.

Use a pie server to transfer the scones to a lined sheet pan and freeze until solid, about an hour. Once they are frozen, you can store them in the freezer for four months.

To bake the frozen scones, place them on a lined sheet pan, about 1 inch apart. Brush with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. They are done when a wooden skewer comes out clean and the bottom of the scones are golden brown.


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