Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Eric Akis: Rhubarb compote tops scones for elegant Mother's Day treat

Try these recipes for a special Mother’s Day tea: Golden scones, rich with butter and cream, that you can split and top with an easy-to-make rhubarb compote.
Cream Scones topped with tangy rhubarb compote and served with Devon cream. ERIC AKIS

B.C.-grown rhubarb is in season, and when I saw a mound of it for sale at my local grocery store, the first thing that came to mind was scones.

I had two options on how to pair the two.

The first was to cut stalks of rhubarb into small cubes and add them to the dough for the scones. When they were baked, bits of that ruby-red rhubarb would nicely stand out and add a pleasing, tangy flavour to the scones.

My other option was to make rhubarb compote to serve with the scones. That option won out because I knew, from past experience, that scones taste ultra sublime when split and topped with that kind of sweet and tangy stewed mixture.

To make the compote, I simmered small cubes of rhubarb until just tender in honey-sweetened, spice-flavoured syrup. The compote was then cooled and refrigerated until needed for the scones.

The scones I made were golden and tender and made with half and half cream and butter. They’re a rich baked good you could enjoy on a special occasion, such as afternoon tea on Mother’s Day.

One of the medium-sized scones, split and topped with the Devon cream (or whipped cream) and rhubarb compote, will make a nice serving size.

Cream Scones with Rhubarb Compote

Golden scones, rich with butter and cream, that you can split and top with an easy-to-make rhubarb compote.

Preparation: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 14 to 16 minutes

Makes: 8 to 10 scones

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for kneading and shaping

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp fine salt

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1/8 cup) cold butter, cut into tiny cubes

3/4 cup half and half (10 per cent) cream, plus some for brushing

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

• Rhubarb Compote (see recipe below)

• Devon cream or whipped cream, to taste (see Note)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer. With your fingertips, two forks, a pastry cutter or your mixer’s paddle attachment, work the cold butter into the flour mixture until thoroughly distributed and no visible cubes of butter remain. Mix in the 3/4 cup half and half cream and vanilla, until loose, sticky, dense dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn dough on to it. With lightly floured hands, knead and shape dough into a ball. Press dough into a 3/4- to 1-inch thick, about seven-inch round circle. Use a floured 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut dough into rounds. Set the rounds of dough on the baking sheet, spacing each about two inches apart. Gather scraps of dough, shape and press until 3/4- to -1-inch thick, cut into more rounds and set on the baking sheet.

Brush the tops of each round of dough lightly with half and half cream. Bake the scones in the middle of the oven 14 to 16 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve the scones warm or at room temperature with Devon cream (or whipped cream) and rhubarb compote.

Note: Devon cream, also called “double cream,” is a thick, rich, spreadable dairy product sold in small jars in the dairy section of many grocery stores. I bought it at Pepper’s Foods.

Rhubarb Compote

To make this compote, small cubes of rhubarb are gently cooked in honey-sweetened, spice-flavoured syrup. Once chilled, this sweet and tangy compote makes a fine topping for scones, split and topped with Devon cream or whipped cream.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: About six minutes

Makes: About 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

• small pinches fine salt, ground ginger and cinnamon

2 cups vibrant red, fresh rhubarb, cut 1/2-inch cubes

Place the water, honey, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a small pot and whisk until smooth. (My pot was six inches wide and three inches tall.) Set over medium, medium-high heat, bring to a simmer and cook 30 seconds. Mix in the rhubarb (mixture will look very thick, but will thin as the rhubarb cooks).

Return to a simmer, and very gently simmer rhubarb, lowering the heat as needed, until it is tender, but still holding its shape, about five minutes. (Do not overcook rhubarb or it will fall apart and become mushy.)

Remove from the heat and cool compote to room temperature. Now transfer compote to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. Compote will keep several days in the refrigerator.

[email protected]

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.