Ginger Buttermilk Scones

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Jonji and I drove up to Point Reyes for the weekend in October of 2020, when Phoebe was barely the size of an artichoke in my belly. We stayed at a very small hotel right off the main road which, though technically on a highway, was passed by very few cars. Behind the building a sweeping lawn on a shallow hill stopped short at a burbling creek. Jonji delighted in spotting crawdads amidst the rocks and weeds, and he was actually quite good at finding the little creatures making their slow progress up and down the aquatic road. A Black Phoebe bird caught our attention among the branches of a creek side tree, chirping sweetly. We liked to sit outside at dusk while warm shadows engulfed the landscape, watching the apple tree fall into shadow, mainly visible by the bright green baubles tucked amongst the leaves.

One morning, after watching a remarkably relaxed deer nibble at the apples from that same tree, we drove the short distance to Point Reyes Station, a tiny town with only a handful of shops. We quickly found the well-known cheese store, a lovely little shop where we bought Phoebe an incredibly soft bear, and Brickmaiden Breads, a little bakery located in an old farmhouse-style home. We ordered several baked goods to try, eating them on a sunny bench tucked underneath an olive tree. Our favorite was the ginger scone, only a couple of hours out of the oven and studded with bits of candied ginger. This recipe is my homage to that delicious scone, so when I eat one I can relive that golden morning up the coast, although this time I eat my ginger scones while my almost one-year-old baby takes a nap in her cozy little room, where an incredibly soft bear watches over her.

Ginger Buttermilk Scones

makes 12 | adapted from Tartine: A Classic Revisited by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

5 1/4 cups (680g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup (80g) sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

1 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk (plus extra as needed)
zest of 1/2 a medium-large lemon
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

topping (optional):
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
large crystal sugar (like Demerara) for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, whisk the 680g flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 80g sugar, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1 1/4 tsp sea salt (if your flour or baking soda is particularly lumpy, sift those in first).

Cut your 1 cup butter into half-inch cubes. You can work the butter into the flour two ways. The first way is to use your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter pieces are roughly the size of a pea. The second option is to rub the butter in by hand—this is my preferred method because I think the scones end up flakier (but I could be wrong). Working with both hands, rub the butter chunks into the flour by making a sprinkling motion with your fingers. Keep working the butter in until the chunks are generally the size of a pea. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm (warmth=the enemy of flakes).

Add the 360ml buttermilk, zest of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger to the flour and butter mixture. Use your hands to mix everything together, adding another tablespoon of buttermilk at a time until the dough is still a bit rough but comes together in one big clump.

On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a rectangle 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick, roughly 6×12 inches. Slice into triangles, then arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper.

Brush on the optional melted butter and sprinkle with sugar, if you’d like a slightly browner and crispier top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy warm with butter and jam!

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