Vegan Scones with Strawberry-Basil Jam

This recipe came about because I had an opened can of coconut milk, a pint of strawberries, and a large amount of Thai basil that I needed to get rid of. So I figured, why not try my hand at making vegan scones? And serving them with a strawberry-basil jam? Worst comes to worst, I’ve made jam before, so I get some cool-flavored strawberry jam out of this. Best case scenario, I get vegan scones to eat along with it! Either way, I get to use up a bunch of ingredients that have been laying around in my fridge, all at once! With the jam, since I am using fresh basil in it, there are two ways to incorporate it into the jam. The first is to infuse the jam with the basil, then remove it afterwards. The second is to just stir the basil in at the end, just to allow it to infuse without getting super wilted and bitter. I went with the latter option, just because I just wanted to make sure that the basil REALLY is pronounced. Other unique things about this jam is that I use agar in it as an additional setting agent. Normally, strawberry jam is set with citrus and maaaybe pectin powder, but in this case, I went with the tiniest amount of agar, just to keep a more fresh flavor in the strawberries. As much as I love strawberry preserves, I feel like the sheer quantity of sugar used completely detracts from the natural flavor of the berries themselves, and this is my sort-of solution to that. I say sort-of because my jam has probably a 2-month shelf life to it, compared to normal preserves that can be stored probably up to 6 months. But at least you will feel a lot less gross eating this jam recipe!

For the scones, that ventures into less confident territory for me. I have made cookie-scones, as well as southern styled biscuits in the past. I was aiming to do an English tea scone, but I’ll be honest in admitting that my scones came out… a lot flatter. With an English tea scone, you have a more biscuit-like exterior, with the scone quite cylindrical and not hockey puck-like, and the exterior is almost crumbling apart, with a perfect little wrinkle in the middle of the scone. Mine….came out flat, more hockey puck-like, albeit still soft and tender on the inside. I will probably revisit making these, but using aquafaba and maybe even culturing the coconut milk, or using cultured vegan yogurt, and see if doing so gives vegan scones round 2 a better raise. However, these scones were still plenty tasty, and I enjoyed them with the strawberry-basil jam, which they paired beautifully with! Eating the two of these together takes me back to living in Boston, and going to afternoon tea at the Langham or L’Espalier(RIP). Lots of good memories to say the least, and I am super glad that this recipe helped me use up a LOT of ingredients that were hogging up my fridge space.

For the jam:
1 pint strawberries – hulled and diced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
a pinch of salt
1g agar agar
1/4 cup basil leaves, stems removed

In a pot, cook down the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and agar, stirring them together on low heat until the strawberries are completely softened and the liquid is cooked down significantly. Take the pot off heat and stir in the basil. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate until time to serve.

For the scones:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk

In a bowl, mix together all of your ingredients, minus the coconut milk first, until a fine, powdery dough forms. Mix the coconut milk into that to form your scone dough. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes, just to let the dough hydrate properly and for the coconut fat to firm up.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 2-inch disks from the dough. For an egg wash substitute, brush the tops with a mixture of 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1 tsp granulated sugar, and 1 tbsp coconut milk. Bake the scones at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

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