I love using herbs and spices in cooking. To me, it is the difference between a good dish and a great one. Likewise, it’s amazing how the same food is completely transformed by the addition of a single fleck or sprinkle from another part of the world.
These Blueberry Cardamom Scones are the perfect example of the almost magical power of spices. Most of us will recognize cardamom from our favourite Indian curry or chai tea latte but it is also used in some Nordic baked goods, Middle Eastern spiced tea, and is becoming increasingly popular in fusion cooking. Cardamom is extremely aromatic and has subtle hints of citrus so it pairs really well with anything sweet or savoury that might ordinarily use lemon. Although, it is expensive (much like saffron and vanilla) its intense fragrance means a little goes a long way.
I recently had the honour of talking to a local coffee shop about providing baked goods for their new venue. In my meeting with one of the owners, she specified that they wanted their food to mirror their unique personality; each offering needed to be different to the usual cafe fare. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the kitchen style necessary for such a commitment but I was left with a surge of crazy ideas that I wanted to test out; one of which was this unusual twist on the classic coffee house scone.
Blueberry Cardamom Scones
1 cup fresh washed blueberries (I don’t recommend frozen as these tend to bleed purple all over the dough)
2 cups of self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk)
1/3 cup sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 tsp cardamom
Zest from 1/2 lemon
(Note: my experienced baker friends might be confused as to why there is no salt in the recipe but the addition of cardamom makes this step unnecessary.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, cardamom, sugar together. Rub butter into flour mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest, eggs and milk. Add whole blueberries into wet mix. Make a well in the center of the dry mix, and add the egg mixture. Gradually combine all the ingredients with your hand until a dough is formed. (If it seems too dry, add a couple of drops of milk.) Turn out the dough onto a flat surface lightly dusted with flour, and gently form into a flat ball. This is the tricky part. You will need to roll out the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick without bursting the berries otherwise the whole thing will turn purple! Slice the dough across (like a pizza) to get 8 triangles. It is important to press and cut straight down with your knife (instead of sliding back and forth) or the scones will not rise during baking. Brush each scone with milk and sprinkle sugar liberally over the tops. Bake for 15-16 minutes until they are golden. Allow to cool completely before serving as the blueberries are full of boiling hot juice.
I loved the addition of cardamom and felt that it really elevated these scones from something simple to something spectacular.