Blueberries are in season, and I love to bake with these juicy summer berries, which simply burst with flavor when added to rich scones.
Traditional Irish scones dotted with raisins or sultanas come to mind when I think of fruit scones. However, my Dad tells stories of how my Granny mixed wild hurts (bilberries) and blackcurrants through her soda breads and scones during the summer months.
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Bilberries are small dark berries, which look and taste a little like American blueberries, but are much smaller. In Ireland they grow in the wild on mountainous land. Called by different names around the country, the North Cork term ‘hurt’ is most familiar to me.
The Irish word for this summer fruit is frachóg (pronounced frack-oh-g), with other names including fraughan, whorts, or heatherberries.
I love these scones baked with fat juicy blueberries, boasting a golden crust sparkling with a light dusting of sugar. Crumbling between my fingers, as I sip on a nice cup of Irish tea, I remember my granny.
Nature’s summer gifts of free mountain fruit helped her create delicious treats for her brood of thirteen children. I bet my aunts and uncles loved these scones warm out of the bastible, and dipped in cups of warm milk.
Irish American Mom's Tips for Perfect Scones
Scones are deceptively tricky to get exactly right, especially for an Irish baker trying to create her mother’s pastries in America. Over the past twenty years I have created some rules of scone making to help avoid producing dry, sawdust-like scones.
Although not exactly a rule, I like to use cake flour rather than all-purpose or bread flour. This may sound strange to most American bakers, but I simply prefer the end product I produce with cake flour – they are closer to the Irish scones of my childhood.
And if you can’t find cake flour, a flour made with a soft winter wheat from states like Tennessee is best. White Lily flour works wonderfully.
Although not exactly a rule, I like to use cake flour rather than all-purpose or bread flour. This may sound strange to most American bakers, but I simply prefer the end product I produce with cake flour - they are closer to the Irish scones of my childhood.
And if you can't find cake flour, a flour made with a soft winter wheat from states like Tennessee is best. White Lily flour works wonderfully.
- Always sift the flour and baking powder together to provide aeration for lighter scones.
- If you use unsalted butter be sure to add some salt to the flour when making the dough.
- Treat the mixture with gentle care, lifting the flour high, as you rub in the butter. A soft touch incorporates air and transfers lightness to the scone dough. (When we were children my mother told us to imagine we were faeires baking magic scones. She encouraged us to lift the flour with a faerie light touch.)
- You can use a pastry cutter to rub the butter into the flour if you prefer not to get your fingers too messy. Another option is to use a box grater to flake the cold butter before adding it to your flour mixture.
- Use a large bowl for combining the butter and flour together. This allows space for lifting of the mixture to allow air be incorporated into the dough. A small bowl is too confining.
- Remember, too much mixing, and kneading will produce dry and tough scones.
- Don't use too much flour when kneading your dough.
- Avoid pounding the dough with a rolling pin, instead use the palms of your hands to gently press the dough into shape. To level the scones simply pass the rolling pin lightly over the top. (The scone making faeries of my childhood used rolling pins with very gently).
- You can bake scones in wedges or use a cookie cutter or cup to cut out circular scones.
- When cutting out the scones, flour the sides of the cutter. Do not twist the cutter, but push it through the dough firmly, lift and release.
- From the moment the wet ingredients hit the dry, work as quickly as you can.
- Place the scones close together on the prepared baking sheet or baking tray to encourage rising not spreading.
- You can line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the surface of the baking sheet before baking these scones.
- Never let the uncooked scones stand unbaked. Get them into the oven as quickly as possible since raising agents start their magical work the moment they meet the first drop of liquid.
- A high temperature is required initially to promote rising of the scones.
- Your scones are baked when the tops are golden brown and when you tap on the bottom of a scone you hear a slightly hollow sound. To enhance the golden brown tones of the cooked scones, be sure to brush the tops with egg wash before baking.
And so, here is my recipe for blueberry scones. I think this is one of my best scones recipes, and is a wonderful variation of my Irish Raisin Tea Scones recipe. I hope you'll like them too.
If you prefer to make your scones or biscuits with buttermilk, you might like my Irish buttermilk scones recipe.
Blueberry Scones Printable Recipe
Here's a short video outlining the steps for making these delicious Irish style scones.
Here is the printable recipe for my Irish style blueberry scones.
Blueberry Scones - Irish Style
- 4 cups cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces butter 1 stick
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cups blueberries fresh blueberries are best but frozen, thawed and drained will work.
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar to sprinkle on top of unbaked scones.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter into one inch pieces, then rub into the flour using a pastry blender, or rub the butter and flour using your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar and mix. Add the blueberries and mix gently to disperse them throughout the flour mixture.
- In a separate bowl or pitcher whisk the eggs and milk together. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the liquid. Reserve ¼ cup of the liquid mixture to brush on top of the unbaked scones.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together using a large spoon or with your hand. Form a soft-but-not-too-sticky dough. Add some extra flour if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too dry and not sticking together, add a little more of the egg and milk mixture. Handle the dough gently to avoid bursting the blueberries.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with a little more flour. Knead the dough lightly.
- Flatten the dough into a large round shape, about an inch-and-a-half high. This can be done with your hands or by lightly rolling the dough with a rolling pin. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out round shapes. Place the scones on a greased baking tray.
- Brush the top of the scones with the reserved egg and milk mixture. Then sprinkle the top of each scone with a little sugar. Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when the tops are turning a lovely golden color.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To serve cut the scones in two and spread each side with butter and/or jam or jelly. Delicious served slightly warm.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Wishing you all happy and successful scone baking - and don't forget the faeries as you lift the butter and flour between your fingers.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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