Lemons are like the embodiment of spring to me - clean, bright sunshine and fresh breezes distilled into a nubby-skinned yellow fruit.
Each spring, I instantly start to crave lemon. It's an annual ritual, as predictable as the return of the red-breasted robins, or the transition from heavy winter parka to light spring jacket, or the scattering of bright blue scilla blossoms that oh-so-briefly carpets my front lawn.
Whenever I start to think about my next meal, my thoughts inevitably turn to lemons... lemon pasta, lemon aioli, lemon tarts, lemon curd, lemon cake, and any number of other tart, lemon-scented dishes. I float slices of lemon in my water glass, add squirts of lemon juice to my vegetables, and zest lemon peel into everything from my breakfast pancakes to my dinnertime risotto. It borders on obsessive, the way I go through lemons at this time of year.
I think it's because my brain sees lemon as a wake-up call for my slumbering tastebuds, still lying dormant after months of soothing comfort food - winter food is like a snuggly pair of flannel pyjamas, where lemon's blast of tart freshness is a bugle sounding reveille, a clarion call that rips away the blankets and drags those groggy tastebuds kicking and screaming into a new day.
That's why I made these lemon ginger scones. They're a surefire cure for the winter blahs, what with the generous quantities of fresh lemon and spicy ginger I grated into my standard scone recipe, plus a little buttermilk to make them extra-moist and tangy. I couldn't resist using a blossom-shaped cookie cutter to match my spring-ish mood, but a regular round cutter will do just as well.
These would be perfect for another one of my springtime rituals - an elegant afternoon tea. All they need is a pot of lemon-scented black tea, and bowls of tart Meyer lemon curd and thick Greek yogurt as tangy alternatives to the traditional clotted cream. If that doesn't finally put my lemon craving to rest for another year, I don't know what will.
- 2¾ cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp lemon zest (~2 lemons)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cold butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup heavy cream (reserve 1 tbsp)
- 3 tbsp turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, fresh ginger, lemon zest, baking powder, ground ginger and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the cold butter, working until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and cream, reserving 1 tbsp of cream for later, and stir until just barely combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface generously dusted with flour, and gently knead 5-6 times. Pat into a rough circle, then use a rolling pin to roll out to around 1" thick. Cut out scones using a 2" round or flower-shaped cutter, gathering up the scraps and re-rolling until you have 8 scones.
- Arrange scones on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½" apart. Brush tops with remaining 1 tbsp cream, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake scones in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.