strawberry-fennel seed cream scones

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I’ve had strawberries on the brain for weeks now. It started with a plastic basket of hand-picked ones that a friend of a friend had scavenged around her house in Portland. We ate a bruised bunch with stained fingers before we decided to bubble a pot of chocolate for dipping a hardened dark shell around the sappy berries.

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They were divine.
I really could have eaten those chocolate-dipped strawberries the whole night long, in damp grass up to my knees after the dewy evening falls, into the small of sun rise, with tiny, sweet seeds in my teeth.
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For weeks now, no other fruit has really captured me with such a fragrant magnetism. And yet, for as many weeks, I haven’t found myself near enough to the good kind that you find at the farmer’s market that are beyond blushed red, that are swarmed by little gluttonous fruit flies under a hot market tent. I finally settled for the next best thing.
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And these scones: inspired by those berries that are so far from buried in my memory, (but entirely without chocolate), they’ve got pockets much deeper than a 20-something like myself knows, pockets that are deeply jammy with gooey fruit. They’re also embarrassingly rich with cream, but in the way that truly tender pastry demands. They’re streaked fiercely with the same flush of a young kite flying a summer child… and then there’s that little fennel-scented crunch from crushed seeds.
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And since a scone has never been quite completely itself without tea, serve yours with tea that has been iced to a bearable coolness for a seething hot summer.
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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream + 1-2 tablespoons (as needed)
  • 1 egg for wash (optional)
  • turbinado or other course sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425 F.

In a small bowl combine sliced strawberries with vanilla and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, crushed fennel seeds and salt. Sprinkle butter chunks across flour mixture, and rub butter into mixture using a pastry blender. Mixture should be course and dry, resembling small peas. Slowly pour in heavy cream and using a fork, stir gently, until mixture begins to clump together, then stir in strawberries. If mixture still appears dry and does not cohere by stirring, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Turn dough onto a clean, floured surface, folding and turning it a couple times, being careful not to overwork.

Form dough into a 1″ thick disk, and cut in halves, and then quarters, until you have cut eight slices. Whisk an egg in a small bowl and then using a pastry brush, gently brush egg over scones and then sprinkle with course turbinado sugar.

Bake scones for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Scone-dough keeps well and can be frozen and baked at a later date if desired, if frozen be sure to allow an additional five minutes or so to bake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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