I recently went blackberry picking with my mum on the common near where she lives. The blackberries were out in full force and most of them tasted delicious, with the occasional pout-inducingly sharp one . The biggest, juiciest berries always seem to be at the top of the bushes, and with neither of us measuring more then five feet, it is a little bit of a challenge to get the best ones. Nevertheless, I think we did rather well, with enough blackberries for me to make scones to take to a 12 person barbecue and accompanying jam.
The jam is ridiculously easy to make. I used a basic set of instructions from the Country Life magazine website. I have put a quick recipe for the quantities I used on here, which made enough jam to fill a large dessert bowl or two small jars. I had never made jam before, and I was really pleased with it!
The scones are one of my faves. The buttermilk makes them incredibly light and fluffy and adds to the flavour of the scone. Using fresh berries makes them taste fresher and there is a tiny hint of vanilla.
The barbecue was at Angelo’s parents house and, as always, was amazing. His mum always out-does herself with the different varieties and ways of seasoning the meat. There was pork belly, marinated chicken legs, steak, sausages and burgers aplenty. She also did two types of vegetarian burger and some Quorn sausages for me. There were corns on their cobs, sweet potatoes done in the charcoals at the bottom of the barbecue and a selection of salads.
After completely stuffing ourselves with barbecue and relaxing in the garden, playing with their adorable dalmatian puppies, blackberry scones with clotted cream and jam were just the thing for an afternoon snack.
Blackberry and buttermilk scones
Adapted from a recipe by Linda Collister
500 grams self-raising flour
Large pinch salt
120 grams caster sugar
100 grams unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
200 ml buttermilk, plus extra for glazing
180 grams fresh blackberries
1 ½ tbsp. Demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Butter 2 non-stick baking sheets to grease.
Sift together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl in the centre. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Make a well in the centre of the crumbs. Beat the vanilla and eggs together in a small bowl, then pour into the well with the buttermilk. Mix using a round-bladed knife or your hands until the dough comes together. Gently mix the blackberries in to the dough by hand, breaking them up as little as possible.
Heavily flour a worktop, then tip the dough out onto it. Flatten it roughly by hand to be 3cm thick, then cut out rounds using a 6-cm fluted biscuit cutter, well floured. Re-shape the trimmings into a ball and then flatten to 3cm thick and cut out more scones, repeating as necessary. Place the scones onto the baking sheets, spread apart at least an inch to allow for spreading. Brush the scones lightly with buttermilk, then sprinkle on the sugar.
Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes until well browned on all sides, including the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack. You can enjoy them warm with butter, or cool with clotted cream and jam.
Quick blackberry and lemon jam
Makes 2 small jars-worth
350 grams fresh blackberries
175 grams caster sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Put the ingredients in a large heavy-based pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes without stirring. Test to see if the jam is ready by putting a teaspoonful on a cold plate, then chilling in the fridge for 5 mins. If it sets, then the jam is ready. Keep simmering, testing every five minutes until the jam sets. If using sterilised jars, pour into the jars and seal. If not, leave to cool then use within the next few days.