It’s no secret… I love rhubarb. I feel a little ashamed to post yet another breakfast rhubarb recipe so soon after my Rhubarb-Cheese Danish—thankfully the shame doesn’t last long so I can share this with you.
Rhubarb is the single spring offering that I wait for with the most anxious anticipation. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but you won’t find me fighting over the ramps, fiddleheads, and morrels at farmers markets—I go straight for the rhubarb. That’s not to say I don’t like ramps, fiddleheads, or morrels, in fact I love them and would have to exercise some serious restraint to not grab fistfuls of each when I see them; all I’m saying is that should a human pile of people clad with man-buns and grocery totes made of hemp over wild leeks, well, count me out. My internal calendar doesn’t ring an alert to go foraging for these seasonal offerings of forest fodder; no, I’m scouring the grocery store and farmers markets for hot pink spears of sharpness and sour. And I know I’ve said this before, but when I lived in Michigan I didn’t have to wait for spring. Being that Michigan is a huge rhubarb producer, hothouse/forced rhubarb starts popping up in grocery stores as soon as early January throughout the state. No such luck here in Connecticut (or at least no such luck for me and my search). I have to wait for a sad, lone box of rhubarb to get absentmindedly thrown in by the watermelons (or maybe by the strawberries if any thought is given to it) sometime in May.
This time around I literally grabbed almost every bit of rhubarb there was at the store. I have a plant of my own in the garden but a harvest from it wouldn’t be nearly enough for me to get my rhubarb fix (which is why I bought another plant the other day… don’t judge me). When I went to check out, the cashier asked, with a look of confusion over who would need this much rhubarb, “so, whacha makin’?” I said I didn’t know yet. Her look shifted from innocent surprise and curiosity to “this guy is craaaaaazzzy”. She ain’t wrong.
I decided to veer from my inclination to pump the rhubarb full of vanilla, like I do with my favorite Rhubarb-Almond Crumble, and went with something still incredibly fragrant, a powerhouse of flavor in its own right—ginger. And while I love a rhubarb dessert I think that, as I confess I do with most desserts, it’s perfectly suited for breakfast, too (yes… I’ve eaten cake at 7a.m. Don’t lie. You’ve done it too). Since it’s been too long since I’ve made scones, something I was reminded of by way of a weekend’s long binge of The Great British Bake Off, I decided scone-making was in order.
Rule number one of scones is that you need to use cream. Not milk, not half and half, not light cream, skim milk, blah, blah, blah… Cream. I’ve seen vegan recipes around for scones that use coconut oil in place of the butter and coconut or almond milk in lieu of cream, and I’m sure they’re delicious in their own right, but I wanted something classic. An important note on the cream is the quantity. Most recipes will call for a varying amount of cream—depending on the recipe, usually somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 cup, or 1/2 to 3/4 cup—reason being that the flour will absorb differing volumes of cream, mostly based on the humidity in the air, but also the particular batch of flour, its age, and so on. It can be infuriating and intimidating to some, especially if you’ve never made scones and don’t quite know what you’re looking for. Regardless of the recipe, start by adding the lesser amount of cream called for, adding more as needed, until you have a dough that comes together, and only just, into a soft and supple dough, something only slightly drier than a biscuit dough. (Think of it like making a piecrust dough—you add just enough cold water for it to come together)
With this particular recipe, the rhubarb is macerated in some sugar before being added to the dough to help soften it a bit before baking. Spoon out as much of the sugary rhubarb juice as you can from the bowl—usually just about 1 ½ tablespoons—and add it to the dry-mix-and-butter combo with just a ½ cup of cream and stir/beat just to combine; then add in the rhubarb itself, give it a quick stir again, and add more cream, if needed, for the dough to come together. If you add enough cream for the dough to come together first, then add the rhubarb and its juices afterwards you run the risk of having a dough that’s too wet and the scones won’t bake quite right.
Some recipes call for an egg or two but I prefer my scones without them; the addition of eggs makes for something much cakier than a traditional scone and, while I’ve made them this way with great results, I prefer them eggless.
I add ground ginger to the dry mix for a subtle warmth, but the real pep of ginger comes in the form of a glaze. I grate a generous amount of fresh ginger root, pick it up, and squeeze it of it’s juices into a bowl of powdered sugar. Even with such copious amounts of powdered sugar, the pepperiness and citrusy zing of the ginger boldly makes its presence known. On its own the glaze is gutsy and strong, but brushed over the scones it’s tamed by the pastries gentle sweetness and compliments the bursts of sharpness when you bite into a jammy bit of rhubarb.
So, quick, before rhubarb season ends or some lunatic like me scoops up the entire supply from every grocery store and farmers market in the tri-county area, get yourself some of spring’s finest crop and get baking these. I mean, there is nothing like the sharp shock of rhubarb and ginger’s fire to wake you up in the morning.
And if you’re a rhubarb fanatic, or just want to follow the ramblings of a lunatic that is, follow me on BLOGLOVIN’. For real. You won’t regret it.