There's something so very greedy about berry picking, and it's not just the inherent one-for-now, one-for-later mentality as you pull them off the branch.
My friend Melody invited me by her house to pick blackberries from the wild bushes nearby. After being thwarted by some rain, I finally got my chance - sunny, gorgeous weather in the low 70s. I grabbed a big metal bowl and started exploring her yard. I found the two major areas (back yard = huge bushes with giant berries, front yard = medium bushes with much smaller berries like the ones above) and got to work.
And it was as I was picking that I realized how greedy I was becoming. I worked the whole area, picking only what I thought was ripe and wasn't to hard to reach within the brambles. But as I walked back to my car along the bushes, I realized how much more fruit was on there. Had I missed all these ripe berries the first time, or had they magically ripened in the sun in the last few minutes?
All in all, I probably went over each bush four times, collecting more and more fruit every time. And yet I continued to become greedy. At every pass, I would pick berries that maybe weren't quite dark enough and reach that much further into the thorns, scraping up my arm but coming back with a handful of sweetness. I found myself concocting plans for my next visit, including bringing leather gardening gloves and maybe some clippers to cut off unruly branches. And all for berries in someone else's yard!
Back home, I sorted the berries by size: the smaller ones were perfect for baking, while the larger ones were delicious as-is. I turned to my copy of The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, which is my absolute favorite baking book, and found a great recipe for fresh berry scones. I was a little turned off when I was instructed the grate the butter - it was like herding cats (which I coincidentally also did this weekend...) - but the results were worth it. Oh, and I adapted the recipe slightly because I can't ever manage to read directions correctly...
Blackberry Scones (adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, frozen, plus extra for melting (about 2 Tbsp)
1 1/2 cups fresh berries
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (about 1/2 a large lemon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
On the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter into a small bowl. Once grated, place butter back into the freezer. Place berries in a bowl and set in the freezer - they do not need to freeze, just get sufficiently chilled.
Preheat oven to 425 ° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, and baking soda. Add in the grated butter and lightly toss until the butter is evenly coated. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and sour cream, then add to the flour mixture. Fold in with a spatula until just combined.
Turn out dough onto a well (and I mean well) floured board. Lightly knead the dough until it just pulls together, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Pat the dough into a 12-inch square, then fold the top third and bottom third of the dough over the middle (like folding a letter). Then fold up the sides of the dough over the middle to form a square. Place dough on a floured plate, then place in the freezer for about 5 minutes so the butter doesn't soften too much.
Place the dough back on the floured board, and roll out to a 12-inch square. Arrange berries on top of the dough and lightly press them in. Roll the dough up into a tight log, pinching the ends and seam shut. Flatten the log into a 12x4-inch rectangle. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 even rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles (8 total).
Place scones on baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the scones are golden brown. Turn the sheet once during baking. After baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool.