Satsuma, Ginger and Oat Scones

Until recently, I never really *got* citrus fruits. Where I often spent winter longing for sweet strawberries and succulent peaches (and frankly still do), I never gave oranges and grapefruits much thought. Sometimes they appeared in my lunch bag, sometimes not. It didn’t much matter either way.

Except for the aforementioned summer fruit, I never thought much about the seasonality of produce, either, until one June day when I asked for leeks at a Bolognese produce stand. ‘Non sono di stagione,’ the vendor brusquely notified me; they are not in season. Leeks don’t have a season, I thought indignantly. They were like potatoes, onions, garlic, and lemons: available in the states any time of year.

Now that I work in the food industry in San Francisco, it’s rather impossible to remain ignorant of what comes into season when. But it wasn’t until we started receiving a CSA box that the citrus thing really began making sense to me.

Looking at a meyer lemon or a clementine when the sky has been overcast for a week feels a little like looking at the sun. And a sip of sweet juice from a fresh satsuma or pomelo tastes bright and vibrant. How clever of citrus to come into season just when we feel a dearth of those qualities, and need a dose of vitamin C to ward off flues and colds. I now cherish the glowing orange and yellow orbs that grace our eyes and taste buds in the dark, cold, and short days of winter, and look forward to the parade of citrus that marches through our kitchen each winter.

These scones are an excellent way to utilize the precious, flavorful zest of mandarins or tangerines, which gets rubbed into the buttery dough. Some of the juice gets whisked into powdered sugar for a simple glaze, and minced, candied ginger creates another layer of flavor. These scones were nothing short of spectacular dolloped with sour cream and our last jar of vanilla-meyer lemon marmalade. Any marmalade would be delicious here, or, if you just can’t wait til next spring, a spot of strawberry jam.

Thanks to Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks for posting Romney Steele of Nepenthe’s awesome and simple oat scone recipe! I’m already plotting more variations…

Satsuma, Ginger and Oat Scones

Makes 8 reasonably-sized scones
Time: about 1 hour

1 1/2 cups all purpose, whole wheat or spelt flour (or a combination)

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one or two satsuma mandarins (or four small clementines)
zest of one lemon (preferably meyer)
4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ dice
1 cup rolled oats
5 tablespoons minced, candied ginger (one set aside for the topping)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 or 2 tablespoons satsuma juice, as needed

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the dries and zests in a large bowl. Work in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some pea-sized butter bits remaining. Toss in the oats. Add the buttermilk little by little, tossing with a rubber spatula, until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1′ high round, about 6″ in diameter. Cut the round into 8 wedges (they will look small, but will grow a lot as they bake). Place on the parchmented pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden, rotating once or twice. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, and enough juice to make a thickly pourable glaze. Drizzle over scones. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon minced ginger.

These are best served warm. They will keep at room temperature for a few days.

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