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April offered up its last rebellious plunge into winter temperatures last week, the ideal time for a hot pot of tea and a batch of scones fresh from the oven. The routine of stirring and shaping, rolling and cutting is a comfort to me when the sky is gray and staying inside seems like a very good idea indeed. Like all good scones, these are plump and dimpled, with toasty brown tops and feather-light interiors. They get an extra bit of sweet heat from spicy crystallized ginger, just enough zing to keep them lively. I finish them with a bit of scone nirvana: a generous dollop of lightly whipped cream and a spoonful of jewel-tone raspberry jam.

I never lack the desire to make jam, but I often lack the patience. With a tray of scones baking and a pint of fragrant organic raspberries sitting on the counter, now is not the time for mason jars and pressure canners. This calls for a quick mash and stir, puddles of scarlet fruit and syrup: instant jam gratification. I am sure there are purists in both baking and preserving camps alike who would cry foul at the notion of a scone so messy that it requires a fork. I say, try it in all its melting, buttery, tangy-sweet glory, and then tell me you don’t want another. :)

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Ginger Scones and Two-Step Raspberry Jam
makes about 18 scones and a cup of jam

For scones:
3 3 /4 c. all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger or ginger baking bits
1 1/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. heavy cream or milk to brush on tops of scones and
1 Tbsp. demerara sugar for sprinkling

For jam:
1 pint fresh raspberries, preferably organic
1/3 c. granulated sugar or vanilla sugar (see these recipe notes for vanilla sugar how-to; taste your berries for sweetness and feel free to adjust the amount of sugar)

Oven 375F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, granulated sugar, and baking powder until well-combined. Using your hands, press and rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is uniform and transformed into sandy, crumbly bits of dough. Mix in the ginger, then add the milk and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.

Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead 10-12 times to finish bringing it together. Press and shape into a disc about an inch thick and cut out scones with a 2-1/2″-diameter round cookie cutter or glass. Gently press the scraps together and cut again until all the dough is used. (A light hand is key here, or over-working the gluten in the flour will make the final scones tougher.) Place the scones on a lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with demerara sugar, then bake 15-20 minutes. Tops should be light golden brown, but still tender.

While the scones cook, make your jam. Two steps, as promised: mash the raspberries and sugar together in a small saucepan, then simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Your jam should still have bits of whole berry, and the liquid should be thick and syrupy. This is the sort of jam you apply with a spoon, not a knife.

In addition to jam, I like lightly whipped cream with mine, but you could also use a drizzle of creme fraiche or even a spoonful of double-thick clotted cream, if you’re lucky enough to have it. (I miss you, Devonshire!)

This scone recipe is adapted from one in Gale Gand’s cookbook Brunch!, as mentioned in the Pear and Marzipan Pastries post.

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