buttermilk scones with mango and ginger

These scones will make purists cringe. Hear that? Listen close. They’re sighing and shaking their heads. When purists crave a scone, they’re after a cream scone – those flakey cookie cutter shaped specimens that are nice with clotted cream, jam, and tea. Cream scones don’t take well to additions, maybe some nuts or dried fruit, but never mango and ginger. This recipe is part of the “other” scone contingency – more often made with buttermilk or yogurt than cream, softer, and nice with any sort of fruit baked inside. 

Honestly I like both kinds of scones, but I find myself making these more than their cream based cousins. This recipe is especially nice because it’s so versatile, taking well to almost any addition you can dream up. It’s a cleaner-upper recipe. I make scones on the weekend and throw in whatever overripe fruit is cluttering up the fruit bowl, along with any nuts or dried fruit I find in the pantry. Late March and April is Champagne (yellow) mango season and the supermarket has a huge pile 2 for $1.50. An annual treat, I’ve been mango crazy this week – slicing them for breakfast, piling them on coconut cake for dessert, and now baking them into scones. Feel free to substitute with any fruit you have on hand. You’ll want to soak dried fruit at least 30 minutes (or overnight) in warm water before using it, and berries should be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan for roughly 15 minutes so they hold their own in the scones and don’t muddle their juices everywhere. Fruits like mangos, apples, pears, peaches, plums, etc. can be used just as they are.

For the Scones

  • 4 ¾ cups/ 680 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder  
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup/ 100 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp/ 255g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 ¼ cup/ 275g buttermilk (or use plain yogurt or kefir)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 2 champagne mangos, peeled and chopped (or 1 regular mango)
  • Corse sugar for sprinkling

I adapted this recipe from Tartine which makes a very similar recipe to the one we made at Canto 6. They make theirs without egg, but I like the texture that the egg brings, so I modified the recipe to include a couple eggs. Makes 12 fairly large scones – serves 6 as brunch or up to 12 as part of a larger meal.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set out 2 large baking sheets and line them with sil pats, parchment paper, or a light coating of butter. Combine the dry ingredients and the butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly until the butter is in small pieces. Dump the mixture out into a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, combine in a large bowl and cut together using a pastry cutter or two knives. In a separate small bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, and ginger and whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture along with the chopped mangos to the flour-butter mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. 
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and using your hands and/or a rolling pin form it into a rectangle about 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1½ inches thick. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles. Alternatively, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disc. Using a rolling pin, roll each disc to about 1½ inches thick. Cut each circle in half and then into 3 triangular pieces.
Place the scones on the prepared sheet pans and sprinkle with course sugar. Bake 25-35 minutes until golden brown. When done, the scones should spring back slightly when touched and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the scone should come out clean.
Scones are best served the day they’re made (the more recently out of the oven the better.) Any left-overs can be stored in a plastic bag a room temperature and warmed slightly in a 325 degree oven before serving. 

Other Favorite Scones (omit the mango and ginger)
Lemon Berry – ½ cup any kind of berries (if fresh, frozen in a single layer for 15 minutes) and 2 tsp grated lemon zest.
Plum Cardamom – ¾ cup chopped fresh plums and ¼ tsp ground cardamom.
Orange Cinnamon Currant – ½ cup dried currants soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, 2 tsp finely grated orange zest, and ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
Pear Almond – ¾ cup chopped fresh pears, ¼ cup sliced almonds, and ½ tsp almond extract.
Peach Fresh Mint – 3/4 cup chopped fresh peaches, ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint.
Banana Chocolate Chip – 1 ripe banana chopped and ½ cup chocolate chips.
Apple Cranberry – ½ cup peeled thinly sliced apples, ½ cup cranberries fresh or dried, and ½ tsp cinnamon.

Time Saving Strategy (For Lazy Weekend Mornings or Making Brunch for a Crowd)
If I’m in the mood to have my scones and eat them too (aka sleep in), I’ll get the butter cut into the flour and the other dry ingredients measured and ready to go the night before. That way I get up, crack and egg into some buttermilk, and mix the whole lot together – under 30 minutes and you have scones hot from the oven. I find most scones don’t do so well fully mixed the night before because they lose a little of their fluffiness as the leavening (baking powder and soda) starts working when it comes in contact with liquid (buttermilk, egg, butter). By the time morning comes around the leavening’s running out of steam. That’s why baking powder is called “double acting” – it’s activated first by liquid and second by heat. 

To Prep the Night Before: Combine only the flour and butter and pulse in a food processor or cut together by hand. Store in the refrigerator over night. Combine the sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small dish and leave it on the counter. In the morning, dump the leavening mixture into the flour mixture and follow the directions for adding the wet ingredients and shaping/baking the scones.