Raspberry Ricotta Scones

The weather here in Rome lately seems to have hopped over Spring and gone directly to Summer -- today its 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius for everyone else out there) -- the temperatures growing steadily warmer as we edge closer to June. Now, don't get me wrong -- I love warm weather and sunshine! -- but sunshine equals heat, and heat equals an aversion to turning on the oven, and this means that baking, for a few short months of the year, is put aside. Not being able to bake is probably the only thing I don't love about the Summer months (especially in an apartment with no air conditioning) so in May, I turn in to a full-blown Baking Machine, getting all the dessert making/new ideas out of my system until I can't bear to turn on the oven. How serious are we talking?! This week I've whipped up Peanut Butter Honey Bread, an Espresso Brownie Cake, and today's Raspberry Ricotta Scones, probably the last baked good to be posted on the blog for a while (SOB). But I digress.

So! These aren't your typical scones, which tend to be on the crumbly, buttery, biscuit-y, side. Nope -- these scones are made with mostly ricotta instead of cream, a bit of whole wheat flour, and a relatively small amount of sugar and butter (for scones, anyways). The original recipe comes from Deb Perelman, who points out that the whole wheat flour should render these heavy, the fruit should be too much for the dough to hold gracefully, and the ricotta should in theory be too thick to work as a liquid ingredient here. Strangely, magically, and inexplicably, none of this happens. Instead, the resulting scone has an uncharacteristically fluffy, cake-like texture and a just-barely-sweet flavor, allowing the happy, tart raspberries to steal the show. The fruit, whole wheat flour, and ricotta make these feel substantial, healthy(ish), and fairly virtuous as far as breakfast items go. They're lovely paired with a cup of coffee or tea or excellent at brunch, especially a Mother's Day brunch (which is this Sunday -- you're welcome for the reminder). Added bonus: these scones were still delicious the day after they were baked (rare for your typical scone which is dry and a shadow of its former self a day later). I can't tell you how they were on day 3 as they of course didn't last that long. 

Variations: This is the first Smitten Kitchen recipe I've ever made that I found lacking -- the scones had a lovely texture but needed more flavor. As a result I upped the original amounts of salt, raspberries, sugar, and butter, lessened the original amount of whole wheat flour, and added lemon zest and vanilla, which made for a much better scone, at least for my taste buds. These scones would also be great with blackberries or blueberries or strawberries and can be made with all white flour if you don't have whole wheat on hand. Next time I make this I think I'll substitute some cocoa powder for the flour to make Chocolate Ricotta Raspberry Scones -- yum.

A couple of notes: The dough for these scones is on the wetter side and thus not the easiest to work with (but in exchange, that is what gives the scones such a nice texture!) Keep this in mind and flour your hands and knife well and you shouldn't have any problems. You can cut these in to squares or cut those squares in half diagonally to make more triangular shaped scones (I did both -- see below). You can also freeze the scones, either before or after baking. Just add a few minutes to the baking time and bake straight from the freezer -- freeze unbaked scones on a baking sheet and when completely frozen, transfer them to a large freezer bag). 

Looking for other brunch-y, Mother's Day appropriate recipes? I've got Banana Pecan Waffles, Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread, Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes, Challah Bread, Maritozzi, Triple Orange Pound cake, Mimosa Cake, White Chocolate Blueberry Cake, Sweet potato Home fries, Prosciutto and Cheese Waffles, and Banana Nutella Muffins, among others


1/2 cup (60 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons lemon zest, from about two lemons
7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) fresh raspberries, roughly chopped in half
3/4 cup (190 grams) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. 
Add butter pieces to the bowl and use a pastry blender (or your fingers) to incorporate the butter into the flour until the largest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. 
Chop up the raspberries roughly and add them to the flour mixture, tossing them so that they are distributed evenly. 
Whisk together the cream, vanilla, and the ricotta and add to the flour/raspberry mixture. Use a spatula to mix your wet ingredients into the flour mixture, until the dough just starts to come together. With the dough still in the bowl, use your hands to gently knead the dough into an even mass. Don't worry if the raspberries get broken up and the dough begins to turn pink -- this makes the scones extra pretty.
With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Flour the top of the dough, and pat it into a 7-inch square, about 1-inch high. Use a large knife to cut the dough into 9 squares and use a spatula to carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until scones are lightly golden at the edges. Cool on the pan for a minute, and then transfer to a wire rack. 
Let the scones cool completely before serving (if you can wait that long!) Makes 9 scones. 

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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