How To Make Super Fluffy Scones With Foraged Blackberries
It’s early autumn and blackberries are in abundance across Scotland’s countryside. From late summer until October berries stud the hedgerows like glittering jewels, ripe and ready to eat! We think foraging for wild blackberries and using them to make deliciously fluffy blackberry scones is the perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon. Bring a wicker basket to collect berries in and you’ll feel like Ratty or Mole from Wind and the Willows!
We always bake our homemade Blackberries and Cream Scones at this time of year to take to the autumn farmer’s markets and to tempt visitors at the café. The recipe we’re sharing today is a Clootie McToot classic – these scones and their cheesy counterparts sold out within an hour at September’s Scottish Game Fair. Michelle had to dash back to Abernethy to make more!
With The Great British Bake Off back on telly, now is the perfect time to become your own star baker!
Jump to the bottom for our Blackberry and Cream Scones recipe or read on to learn more about secret scone ingredients and how to forage your own blackberries.
How To Safely (& Sustainably!) Forage Wild Blackberries in Scotland
Wild blackberries fresh from the hedgerow make all the difference to this Scottish scone recipe. However, it’s important to forage responsibly to stay safe and within the law.
Berry picking is in many Scots’ blood. Some of us are old enough to remember berry picking our summers away at Perthshire farms. If you were a fast picker you might just have enough money by the end of ‘the berries’ for your mum to buy you a new school uniform!
The Strathmore Valley in Perthshire (particularly Blairgowrie, ‘The Berry Toon’) is the best spot in Scotland to pick berries, though they can also be found in Fife, The Highlands and the Scottish Borders.
Top tips for foraging wild berries
- Know what you’re picking. Make sure that what you’re picking is edible, as there are many poisonous berries only suitable for birds. Blackberries are recognisable by the thorny bramble bush they grow on. The fruit is 1-2cm in length and ripens from green to red, deepening to purple and eventually black in October.
- Take only what you need. Bird species depend on blackberries at this time of year. Forage respectfully to ensure the survival of Scotland’s wildlife.
- Seek permission. Sometimes you may need to ask a landowner’s permission to forage. Always double-check signage on gates and fences before foraging.
One final tip – my mother always warned me not to pick the low-hanging blackberries in case a passing dog had peed on them! Before you start gobbling your foraged spoils give your blackberries a thorough wash – roadside berries could be subject to car fumes depending on how busy the road is.
3 Secrets To A Truly Scrumptious Scone
1. Fresh Fruit
We’ve been blessed with a dry summer this year in Scotland. While this means our wild berries won’t be as plump or juicy as normal, they are perfect for baking.
Excess moisture can affect the bake of your Blackberry Scone. Fresh berries will ensure a full fruity flavour, less leaking juice, and vibrant colour.
But if you’re short on time, is it ok to make blackberry scones with frozen berries?
Short answer: yes, you can.
However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind when using frozen berries. Let’s take a quick moment to explore fresh vs. frozen fruit in baking.
Will frozen fruit ruin my blackberry scones?
Good news – supermarket fruit is frozen at peak freshness.
Bad news – fruit is 90% water. When the water inside the fruit freezes to ice it alters the fruit’s cell structure. When the fruit is thawed it therefore results in a mushy texture.
However, frozen fruit can still work well in baking.
Usually recipes that involve baking (like our Blackberry and Cream Scones) or cooking will take well to frozen fruit. There’s just a couple of extra steps you need to take to ensure the best result.
- Rinse the berries first. Otherwise the juices will bleed and stain your fluffy scones! We actually think a vibrantly purple scone looks the bees’ knees, but sometimes the blackberry juice can turn the cooked batter a greenish colour which will make your scones look mouldy. Yuck!
- Bake for longer. Adding extra baking time when cooking frozen fruit is often recommended to help dry out excess moisture to help prevent the dreaded soggy bottom.
2. Lemon Zest
The citrus zing of lemon zest enhances blackberries’ natural tart tang. In our eyes, lemon is as heroic a flavour saver as salt. A twist of lemon will make each mouthful of your wild blackberry scone sing with all the splendour of the late summer hedgerows!
Lemons literally make your mouth water. The more saliva in your mouth (sorry to be minging for a minute) the easier it is for your brain to perceive flavours. Salt, fat and acid are the pillars of flavour. The high acidity in lemon makes it a natural choice for bringing out the flavour of any food.
Zest is best. The zest contains lemon oil, which gives a higher concentration of flavour without adding extra moisture (key when baking with already moist fruit!).
What should you look out for when selecting lemons? Luckily lemons are abundant in local supermarkets and relatively cheap. A good lemon is vivid yellow, firm, and smooth. We recommend buying your lemons at a nearby farmers’ market to support local green grocers!
3. Frozen Butter
Yep, frozen butter is best in our scrummy Scottish Blackberry and Cream Scones. Simply grate the frozen slab of butter into your flour mix. The finely grated peels of butter are easier to rub in, which will save you time in the kitchen.
(A win in our book, considering this recipe is already quick!)
Frozen butter is honestly a game-changer – try it in crumbles as well as scones.
Speaking of butter, we do recommend it over margarine. Great British Bake Off judge, Paul Hollywood admitted that Stork is great for baking but we think the fattiness of real butter adds a creamy texture and slight sweetness to our scones.
Wild Blackberry and Cream Scone Serving Suggestions
We recommend serving with a generous dollop of clotted cream and a scattering of jewel-like blackberries.
Because these scones are best eaten fresh on the day they’re made, why not serve them as part of a classic Afternoon Tea with friends? Dainty sandwiches, tart blackberry scones and gallons of tea – what better way to usher in autumn?
And if you pay our cafe a visit in the wee, historic village of Abernethy we can serve you up a dreamy, creamy and decadent strawberry milkshake on the side!
The weather isn’t too cold yet so there’s still time to savour these scones in the garden as the leaves turn from green to gold.
Scottish Blackberry & Cream Scones
640g SR Flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g light brown sugar
128ml sour cream
5 tbs double cream
240g of fresh Blackberries
Egg wash before oven
1 tsp milk
2 tsp sugar
4 tbs double cream
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
Heat the oven to 200C Fan/Gas 7 and lightly grease a baking tray. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar and then add the blackberries and gradually add the double cream and sour cream to get a soft dough. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in . Brush with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes approx.
Glaze: Mix the double cream, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt, pour/ drizzle over the top of scones.