Monday, 2 September 2013

Blackberry Scones and Tennis

I'm sorry to state the obvious, but Autumn is in the air.

Yes, the middle of day is still averaging 23 degrees here in the old capital, but the mornings and evenings have that freshness. That crisp twang of September. The edges of the horse chestnut leaves are beginning to turn golden and I slept with only one window open instead of two last night.

And it's dark by 8.30pm.

What better way to embrace the misty and mellow season than blackberry picking? The Boy and I set out, intrepid country folk in the urban wilderness that is Wandsworth Common, woefully inadequate in our footwear and prickled our way through the undergrowth to uncover a veritable abundance, nay, a gleaming abundance of blackberries.

This blog somehow suggests, I notice, that I live in a strange bubble of folksy country pursuits in the middle of the biggest city in England. Not so. I intended and failed to blog about

Our brilliant, bustling night at Pizza Pilgrims in Soho.

Mojitos at my new neighbourhood joint, Northcote Records - best playlist this side of the Thames.

The tickets we're booking to the Pompeii exhibition at the awesome British Museum.

How much I want to see The Almeida's production of Chimerica before it closes....

And yet. Here I am blogging about blackpicking. Anyway. I might as well finish what I started.

My beautiful sister is having a bit of low patch at the moment and came over for a game of tennis, afternoon tea, a glass of Prosecco and Deb Pearlman's absolutely delicious one pot Farro. So the three of us slung our rackets over our shoulders and set out across the common.

We're pretty rubbish. And The Boy broke his racket. But who cares? I love tennis! I come over all 1920s - Love-30! Oh, good shot! - all Joan Hunter Dunn. And it was all rounded off by these blackberry scones. With a freezer full of London blackberries, I'd toyed with the idea of blackberry sauce and venison, but it's not yet so cold in the evenings that red meat and dark sauce seems like a good idea.

These were great. Easy and sweet and jammy. No need for jam! In-built jam! Just break in half and add butter. Consume with gallons of tea and a lovely sibling.

Blackberry Scones
Makes about 8.

Generally, the secret with scones is have everything cold when you start, handle it as little as possible, keep the dough quite sticky and bake in a hot oven. In this case, the blackberries are quite wet anyway, so don't go overboard with the milk... If you want, you can leave out the blackberries, add sultanas and eat with butter and strawberry jam.

8oz Self-raising flour*
A good pinch of salt
1oz Caster sugar
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2oz Butter
8oz Frozen blackberries (otherwise they will break up)
Milk for binding
Optional - 1 egg for glazing.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and then rub in the butter until it's the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar. Stir in the frozen blackberries.

Add enough milk to bind it all together into a slightly sticky dough.

Turn it out onto a floured work surface and gently squodge (rather than full-on kneading) it into a smooth, flat disc about 1 inch high.

Cut out the scones by pushing down on the metal cutter and then lifting straight out, rather than twisting (this will help them to rise). Or just cut into sections with a sharp knife.

Whisk up the egg in a bowl and brush over the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in the hot oven, until they are deep golden and the blackberries are bleeding.

Leave to cool for 15 mins. Scones are nicer when they're not straight out. Believe me.

Slather with salted butter and eat.

* Do Americans have self-raising flour? If not, you can use all-purpose/plain flour and add baking powder (NOT soda...).


  1. I've been doing a fair bit of blackberry picking this past summer myself--somehow the ones that grow wild always seem to taste the best!

    And you're reminding me that we really ought to make use of our nearby tennis courts...

  2. I love collecting things that grow wild - so satisfying! I made Elderflower Cordial with Wandsworth elderflowers earlier in the summer too...

  3. Sounds like a great day!


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