I am fortunate enough to not only live in the citrus belt of Florida, but to also live close to the strawberry fields of Plant City and the Florida Strawberry Festival. For weeks leading up to the start of the fair, workers line the fields picking berries, and volunteers spend days cutting them for the strawberry shortcake booths. Then, once the fair opens, everything from deep fried strawberries to strawberry stuffed Amish doughnuts will have lines of people waiting.
For the true strawberry lover, the real prize is scoring a flat of fresh strawberries from just outside the fair gates. Local growers set up tents and battle for the best flat price. This year, during the fair, I saw flats going for as low as $9. After the fair ends, prices of flats can drop as low as $5. (That’s when you buy and freeze everything you can!)
I paid $10 for my first full flat of the season, and it was well worth it. A flat of strawberries is the equivalent of 12 baskets or pints plus a few extra. No grower ever sells a flat unless it’s filled to the brim. This year’s berries are perfectly ripe, and after cleaning and hulling (removing the tops), I got 2 gallon ziploc bags full, a half gallon plastic container full, and a couple of recipes already.
As I was cleaning them last night, all I could think about was making scones, so I hurried through the cleaning & hulling and got to work baking.
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. sugar
10 TBSP butter-cut into small cubes
1/4 c. cream cheese-softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. rough chopped strawberries
3/4 c. buttermilk
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter and cream cheese with a fork or pastry cutter. Carefully stir in vanilla extract and strawberries. Stir in buttermilk. Mixture will be somewhat loose and wet.
Turn out onto a well floured work surface. Sprinkle surface of dough with a generous amount of flour. With well floured hands, pat down dough and shape into a narrow, but long rectangle, approximately 4-5 inches wide. You may have to add more flour around the edges.
Using a well floured knife or bench scraper, cut dough into wedges. Place dough wedges onto a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet. Make an egg wash from a beaten egg and half & half. Brush over each wedge and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown, but not totally hard. Do not overcook. Your scones will be dry and hard.