Nicola Galloway: Strawberry & Rhubarb Yoghurt Scones

Nicola harvests treasures from her own garden as well as her sister’s to make this summer picnic-perfect afternoon tea. 

Words and Images: Nicola Galloway

Although strawberries have been available on supermarket shelves for some time, I wait patiently until the first of the sun-ripened berries arrive at the markets before I succumb to my first taste of summer. It is well worth the wait. The flavour of sun-kissed fruit cannot be imitated.

My cooler valley garden lags a little behind in production. With anticipation, I tend to the strawberry plants with a fresh sprinkling of compost and a layer of soft straw to keep the fruit off the soil. It is magnificent to watch nature at play. First, the berries grow to size, pale green and freckled. Then slowly, day by day, they rouge from the tip up. Then it is an urgency to harvest them at ripe perfection before the birds find them.

I also have my eye on the rhubarb stalks from my sister’s garden. Largely neglected at the bottom of the garden (to be fair, it is down a steep bank) the plant produces the largest rhubarb stalks I have encountered. Crimson from the base to the leaf.

Come spring I often make the perilous journey down the bank to pick an armful to be used in cakes and bakes of the week. What can’t be eaten fresh is chopped and tumbled into a freezer bag for a quick addition to a crumble or cake down the track.

As luck would have it — or maybe this is all part of nature’s master plan after all — strawberries and rhubarb effortlessly complement each other. The berries in particular bookmark the beginning of the summer season as I now eagerly await the stone fruits and plump aggregate berries  — boysenberries, blackberries and raspberries.

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Strawberry & Rhubarb Yoghurt Scones

These are a perfect afternoon tea after a few hours in the garden. Freshly picked strawberries still warm from the sun and a handful of chopped rhubarb. The yogurt gives the scones a wonderful flaky texture with its acidity helping to activate the rising agents (baking powder and baking soda) resulting in pillowy scones.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Makes about 8 scones

2 cups (300g) plain flour
2 tsp sugar + extra for sprinkling
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
generous pinch of salt
about ¾ cup chopped strawberries
about ¾ cup chopped rhubarb (can use frozen)
75g cold butter
1 free-range egg
½ cup (120ml) plain yogurt
1-2 tbsp cream or milk + extra for brushing
butter to serve

Preheat the oven 220C (fan 200C).
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, lemon zest and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the prepared fruit and mix briefly to combine.
Grate the cold butter directly into the bowl and quickly toss together, don’t rub the butter into the flour, the aim here is to evenly distribute the butter through the mix.
Whisk together the egg and yogurt, then add it to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of cream or milk to bring the dough together.
Tip onto a lightly floured bench and knead briefly to bring the dough together – don’t over mix or the butter can melt resulting in a tough textured scone.
Press the dough into a square about 3cm high then use a 6cm cookie cutter (or an inverted glass) to cut out rounds. Re-shaping the dough as needed to get as many rounds as possible. Or use a butter knife to cut into eight squares.
Arrange the scones on a lined baking tray with 1cm space between each. Brush with cream or milk and sprinkle with a little sugar then bake for about 12 minutes until golden.
Cool the scones on a rack for 5-10 minutes then serve warm with butter, or jam and cream if you like

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