Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nectarine Scones

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of fresh fruit in a scone. Dried fruits are easier to control and produce consistent, flavorful results. I feel like the fresh fruits release too much moisture and have a negative effect on the texture of the final product. This is especially true of berries, but the firmer the fruits get, the better the scone. Apples work fairly well and, as far as stone fruits go, nectarines aren't too bad, either.
Nectarines are sweet without getting as soft as most other stone fruits as they ripen. I prefer to cut the fruit into medium-sized chunks, but a finer dice could easily be used and still produce good results. Thrown into a scone, they maintain their shape as they soften and still leave the crumb of the scone fluffy and light, not soggy. You could use peaches or plums, but I think that nectarines will give you the best result.
There is a lot of vanilla relative to the size of this recipe, but it really brings out the flavor of the nectarines. These are a light, lovely change from a plainer scone and a great way to use up a nectarine. The scone tastes very like a cobbler, and if you really go for the slightly crispy top of the cobber (like I do) you'll probably love these.

Nectarine Scones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
5-6 tbsp milk (any kind)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/3 cup nectarine, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse sand. A few large bits are ok, but try not to have any pieces larger than an average pea.
Add 5 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla and stir. Mix in nectarines. The small amount of juice given off the the fruit should moisten the mixture as much as it needs to form a ball, but if it doesn't, add remaining tablespoon of milk.
Divide dough in four pieces and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, if desired.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until scones are a light golden color. A toothpick should come out clean, but color is a reliable indicator for these.
Makes 4.