Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuanese Chopped Celery with Beef
Cooking for Hugo: Teriyaki Salmon

Julia Ziegler-Haynes' Prune and Caraway Scones


I'm going to be real honest here and say that February was a doozy of a month. From start to finish (with the exception of a weekend in Paris with my girls), it was just the worst. And you know what? I'm going to go ahead and blame it on stinking Mercury Retrograde, even though that may make me sound like a hippie nut. I can take being called a hippie nut, just as long as I get a little bit of a reprieve now from planetary movement. Yes, Universe? Thank you.

Things are looking up, though. For one, spring has sprung over here in Berlin. There are crocuses in the park that we pass every morning on the way to Hugo's daycare. the sun shines almost every day and I even saw rhubarb at the grocery store yesterday for the first time this year, long pink stalks full of promise. Second of all, sweet Hugo now calls hippos "appas", has started taking weekend naps in our bed with us, and has discovered the wonder of apple wedges, which he also calls "appas". Thirdly, Max thinks I'm superwoman because I can tell the difference between Hugo requesting an apple or Hugo looking for a hippo. Like I said, things are looking up!

And funnily enough, in the muddy mental swamp that was February, I did a lot of good things in the kitchen. These scones, found on an old 3191 post, were particular gems. They're regular old cream scones bolstered with the inspired combination of sticky prunes and little crescents of caraway. They, as their creator says, walk the line between savory and sweet very well, plus they bake up into gorgeously craggy wedges. It's sort of impossible not to start picking at one the moment the sheet comes out of the oven.

We ate our scones spread with sweet butter at brunch and Hugo kept coming to the table for big chunks to cram into his mouth (Hugo may be many adorable things, but a dainty eater he is not). Max declared them his new favorite breakfast food (he'd never met a scone before, to my disbelief) and I felt very good indeed.

Whenever people ask me why I like to cook, when so many people find it stressful and complicated, I wonder how to put into words that feeling. You know what I mean, right? The sense of providing your loved ones with edible comfort and happpiness? That's only part of the equation, though. The rest is, to me at least, more ineffable. But even if the words to sum it up elude me, I'm so glad I get to feel it. And I'm so glad I get to share it, with you.

Prune and Caraway Scones
Makes 16 small scones or 10 large scones

2 tablespoons caraway seeds (plus more for sprinkling on top)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and diced
2 cups coarsely chopped prunes
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 large egg
Flaky sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the diced butter and using your fingers, pinch the pieces into the flour mixture until you are left with a crumb-like mixture with some larger butter chunks still remaining. Add the prunes and the caraway, tossing the prunes in the flour mixture so that they don't clump together.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the 1/2 cup olive oil and heavy cream. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir to incorporate, just until the dough starts to come together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured parchment sheet. With lightly floured hands, start to press down and out on dough, forming a large rectangle, about an inch and a half think. Cut this rectangle in half the short way, and then the long way. You are left with 4 smaller rectangles, which you will then cut into 4 even-sized triangles each. Alternatively, shape the dough into a circle and cut into 10 triangles. You could also cut these into small-ish squares.

3. Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg and mix in the remaining olive oil. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining caraway and sea salt, if using. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until scones are golden-brown. Serve warm.