I am currently on a plane headed back to Pittsburgh–too soon, as always. My Thanksgiving trip home was wonderful: cooking and eating the big dinner, playing cards, catching up with out-of-state cousins, decorating for Christmas, and baking for my family (of course) were just a few highlights from the brief vacation. I hope that all of you had a similarly fulfilling holiday week!
Speaking of holidays, you may be wondering what exactly my reasoning was for the arguable lack of “holiday” flavors in my recipe for this week. I imagine lemons and blackberries seem a bit out of place among your social media feeds overwhelmed by fruit pies, cinnamon, ginger, and hot chocolate. This recipe was not an attempt to rebel against the wonderful baking bucket list of the season; it’s actually a dessert created for my sister, Katie. Upon picking my family’s brains regarding my plan for the upcoming blog, she responded with only one request: anything with lemon and poppy seeds. And after a few more minutes of discussion, it was decided that the vessel for this classic combo would be scones.
The next morning, I called my grandma to ask if I could use her kitchen to test my recipe–we were visiting her and my grandpa in their new house that day. Of course she gleefully obliged, so I gathered my ingredients and worked up a first draft recipe on the way there.
With Katie as my masterful lemon zester/juicer, I made the first batch of scones while my mom, aunt, and grandma sat nearby at the kitchen table, eager to don their taste-tester uniforms. The charming South Carolina sunlight rolled through the widows, brightening the already joyful room. I was struck by the abundance of natural light, something that can be painfully difficult to find in my apartment kitchen, especially in the winter. I began to realize that so much in that moment differed from baking in my apartment, actually. Here I had ample counter space, a large oven, extra storage areas, an abundance of bowls, and no time constraint or shift at work in ten minutes.
The one thing that made that morning of baking better than any length of time in my apartment, though, had nothing to do with the layout of the space. It was the people. From the initial recipe idea to the final creation, I had family with me. Katie and my mom willingly helped conceive the idea (despite my known tendency to get stubborn when it comes to picking recipes). My dad meandered into the kitchen every now and then as we baked, commenting with wide eyes on smells or looks or whatever else he could manage to perceive without yet being allowed to taste it. Katie, of course, was at my side working on whatever element I needed to get done; my aunt and grandma sat with my mom, exchanging stories and excitedly observing what we were doing. My grandpa left his chair as soon as he knew we presented a rack of scones for tasting and made a point to give his approval each time. Everyone around me nibbled and “mmmmm”ed and offered their opinions and asked questions and smiled and laughed. I soaked up the time with them like the hot scones soaked up the blackberry glaze.
I often thought that I preferred baking alone–I was always that kid in the group project who’d rather do it all herself instead of risk letting things be done someone else’s way. To this day, I find comfort in having solitary control over every element of a recipe and no distractions when I’m executing those elements, especially since I sell some of my bakes. And because my mini kitchen and crazy schedule have me isolated during most bakes, I’m rarely challenged to do otherwise. When I’m short on time and concerned about finishing an order or a blog post, I find myself transforming into a baking racehorse, set on the end goal, blind to anything but getting the dessert to the customer. At home, I was reminded of what it feels like to bake just for the pure purpose of cultivating joy, of doing something that makes me happy and sharing it with people I love. Thanks, fam ❤
So, I’m sharing a little bit of lemony sunlight with you in the middle of the wintry season. The bright, tart citrus flavor of the scones is paired with an equally fresh but sweet blackberry glaze. Try it, and I think you’ll be too happy to be missing your chestnuts and spice cake.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Lemon Poppy Seed Scones with Blackberry Drizzle (V)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegan sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 TBSP lemon zest
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 5 TBSP lemon juice
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine (1 earth balance buttery stick), very cold
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 flax egg (1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP cold water left to thicken in fridge for at least 5 minutes)
- 6 oz fresh blackberries
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Whisk until even throughout.
- Cut vegan margarine into dry ingredients with pastry cutter or knives until small crumbles form. Place bowl in fridge to stay cold.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together flax egg, coconut cream, and lemon juice.
- Remove larger bowl from fridge, and pour wet ingredient mixture into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Using a spoon, gently mix until wet ingredients have just been incorporated. Mix in poppy seeds.
- Turn dough out onto parchment paper, and gently form 2 equal discs.
- Cut each disc into 6 equal triangular scones, and separate them slightly from each other.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until bottoms of scones are golden brown. (This is an unusually long cook time for scones, but I promise they’re anything but dried out or overcooked)
- Make blackberry drizzle: pulse blackberries in food processor/Nutribullet until smooth. Whisk in powdered sugar until any clumps are eliminated (I like to leave the seeds, but you can strain them out if you desire)
- Transfer scones to a cooling rack. Wait until they’re just slightly warm or cooled completely before topping with drizzle.