Picture it in your mind, wild blackberries ready for the picking in an urban setting. Its kind of mind bending, especially for someone like me, who doesn’t immediately think of urban wild food foraging. While I may not be inclined to attempt it myself, I can’t help but notice all the people who are picking wild blackberries along Cambie Street, or parking their bikes at Stanley Park Seawall to gobble up a few. I find it fascinating and can’t help be a bit envious of their skills and adeptness for survival on wild food, if needed. Or perhaps, its their vulnerability to try something wild without the safety of a grocery store, fruit stand, or even home garden. Sadly, my connection to nature is not that close yet.
What I do know is that areas where open spaces turn into forest are unusually rich for wild food foraging, especially at this time of year. Blackberries are no exception. Blackberries love the area right where the clearing meets the forest, hence their abundance on Cambie Street and Stanley Park.
Like raspberries, blackberries grow on shrubs known as brambles and help to reduce cholesterol, prevent diabetes and cancer and are great sources of immunity-boosting vitamin C. I can’t help but nerd out on the beauty of blackberries. Not only are they sweet and flavourful, but they are spectacularly sculptural. After a bit of research, I found out blackberries are an aggregate fruit, composed of many smaller fruits called drupes. When you deconstruct the idea of blackberries, they are an outer, fleshy body that surrounds a seed.
Usually, when I see local blackberries at my local produce purveyor, I can’t help exclaim in a bit of giddiness. They usually don’t even make it home, before their gobbled up. However, on the odd chance they do survive the journey home, they get tucked into a batch of flaky scones. Meshed with fresh and dry ginger and a dash of cardamom, these scones are the perfect way to indulge in blackberries.
If fresh blackberries are unavailable in your area, I am sad for you, but can attest that frozen blackberries will work just as well. Since the frozen type are much firmer than, they won’t make as much of a mess when you knead them in. Don’t stress if blackberry juice gets into the dough, the juice will add colour and flavour to your scones. I like to top these scones off with a generous sprinkling of coarse sugar and cardamom before baking. This adds extra sweetness and a nice crispness.
Blackberry Ginger Cardamom Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled
1/3 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, extra for topping
1 tablespoon coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into chunks and add to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour butter is pea sized pieces. Add in cream and vanilla and lightly mix. Add blackberries and lightly work into the dough. Don’t worry if some of the blackberries get mushed up. Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, and flatten dough into a disc about 3/4-inch thick. Use a knife to divide disc into eight triangles. Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, until scones are golden brown.
Jessie Lehail is the author of Indian Influence, a blog that shares food stories, recipes, and photography. Reflecting a love for meshing global flavours and South Asian aesthetics, Jessie explores culture and identity through food. Find more food stories at indianinfluence.ca.