Pucker up those lemon lips
Remember those Country Time Lemonade commercials from the 1990’s? The narrator’s baritone, overlaid upon soothing jazz music, enticing us to enjoy the simple pleasures.
“Summer...ahh...warm breezes blowing...laughter with friends...and ice-cold Country Time Lemonade...”
There is something about lemons, even though they are sour in taste and give us pucker faces, that makes us crave them. We use them to make drinks, desserts, use as an ingredient in main dish meals, and even saturate our homes through cleaning supplies. While cutting off paper thin slices of lemon peel, for my Lemon Fruit Scones recipe, the scent of the lemons filled my nostrils. Yes, it was like the old commercial of laying on the grass, gazing at the sky, figuring out what animals the clouds looked like, and sipping on ice-cold lemonade.
Did you know that the lemon is not a naturally occurring fruit, but a hybrid species? It is a combination of bitter orange (a citrus fruit native to East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, and Southeast Asia) and citron (ancient fruit with a very thick rind and bumpy skin; also, the origin of the lime). Originally, bitter orange, citron and, eventually, the lemon were primarily used for medicinal purposes in Asian and African countries. It was not until the 18th century when a Scottish doctor, James Lind, discovered a connection between eating/drinking citrus fruits, and eliminating scurvy in sailors. Once again though, as a medicinal purpose.
How did lemons come to the United States? We have those explorers, from Spain, to thank once again as they planted lemon seeds, in what we now know as, California in the 1700s. The other three states where lemon trees flourish best are Arizona, Florida and Texas. Lemon trees bloom throughout the year, so readily abundant, on the American market, as opposed to the Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons are a smaller, sweeter hybrid, used in dessert making, jams, jellies, specialty cocktails and fruit salads. They are harvested mainly between the months of November to April, and are more costly than the common lemon.
How did lemons go from being a medicine to a popular, thirst-quenching refreshment. The earliest recorded “lemonade” recipe came from 14th century Egypt with the use of sugar, dates or honey to sweeten the beverage. The French, however, in the 1600s, claim they invented honey lemonade, so here we go again with another origin story. In America, 1838 saw the first published recipe for lemonade made with egg whites, and during the Temperance movement, it was pushed as a suitable replacement for “demon rum”. Any way you slice it, mix water, lemon juice, fresh lemon slices and sweetener, and you have lemonade.
So, back to those scones I mentioned earlier on. It is a basic scone recipe with lemon being the main taste ingredient. Using freshly squeezed juice and minced lemon peel (aka zest) will actually give you that exactly, a fresh lemon scent and taste. Dried lemon peel can be used, but reconstituting it, with bottled lemon juice, not water, is a good cheat.
First, I made the scones using blueberries and the “cheat”. Personally, I found them lacking in lemon flavor, and definitely the number of blueberries used. However, and here’s a huge thank you to my guinea pigs (aka taste testers) for their very much appreciated feedback. While one felt it was a perfect combination, the rest agreed with my assessment, and I went with majority rule to tweak the recipe.
Second batch was made with fresh lemon, but raspberries, and a half cup more than the original recipe called for in fruit. Oh my, what a difference in taste, scent and texture! Yes, yes, fresh is always best, but when all you have is dried lemon…you get the gist of it, right?
Well now, it is summertime, so go out and enjoy some lazing in the shade, with an ice-cold glass of lemonade, and a glaze covered scone to nosh away the hungries.
Lemon Fruit Scones
Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour (add 3 Tbsp. for high altitude)
1 Tbsp. baking powder, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute), ½ tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. finely minced, fresh lemon zest, divided in half (if dried 1 and ½ Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice mixed in), 6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, 1 and ½ cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cut-up strawberries (if frozen, thaw, and drain any excess liquid), 1 tsp. lemon juice, 3/4 cup 2% milk
For The Glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup 2 % milk, ½ tsp. lemon juice, lemon zest.
Preheat oven to 400F; line baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly sprinkle with flour.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Add sugar, salt, and half of the lemon zest. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender, or fork, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Add in fruit, lightly coat with dry mixture. Add lemon juice and milk; fold gently until the mixture forms a soft dough. It will be wet and sticky, but do not add extra flour or knead dough.
Turn dough out onto floured parchment paper, and cover hands with flour as well. Pat dough out into a 1-inch diameter circle; use a sharp knife to score dough into 8 equal triangles.
Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until scones begin to turn brown. Carefully move parchment paper to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Use a knife to cut completely through score marks and separate scones; let cool another 10 minutes.
Make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice, and remaining lemon zest until smooth. (If glaze is too thick, add a bit more milk; if too thin, add more powdered sugar.) Drizzle scones with the glaze; place in refrigerator to firm up glaze on scones. Before serving, bring up to room temperature, or warm up, individually, in the microwave for 15 seconds.