Well, we did it! After ten hyperspace jumps and six months of mandatory survival training, career-path workshops, cafeteria meals, and more karaoke than I ever care to participate in again, we’ve arrived at our new home in the Charys system.

I suppose an introduction is in order before I go much further. My name is Harper Luna, freelance investigative reporter and volunteer whiskey taster. For the record, I did try keeping a diary of the journey itself, but I basically summed it up for you in the opening paragraph. Turns out space travel is not that interesting when it goes according to plan.
From my window seat in the ship’s Starbucks Lounge I can see the planet Ocasta clearly enough to make out deep blue oceans marbled with impossibly vast expanses of green forests, patches of red desert, and frosty white ice caps at each pole. Our ship, The Sagittarius, is headed for a stretch of temperate forest near the Balius Sea known as Wardenswood.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been off Earth before, so expect a lot of excited you’ll never guess what I just saw! posts from me in the months to come. Most folks aboard the Sag have never been so far, I guess. But we’ve all been taught what to expect and had several training sessions about the psychological complications that may arise from both an extended trip through space and stepping foot onto an entirely alien world. Still, I imagine there are bound to be surprises and situations no training course can account for.

We six hundred and thirty some-odd souls make up the fourth colony ship to make it to Ocasta. Soon, we’ll set up the perimeter lights that will mark the boundary of Outpost Three. For now, though, we’re just a bunch of jittery people packing up our things and getting ready to get the hell off this boat.

Back on Earth I was a stress baker. Times got tough, I’d be in the kitchen throwing whatever I could get my hands on into an oven. Usually it turned out edible. Usually. I’m learning that the habit hasn’t been diminished with the distance and time away from my old home world. Ever since we entered the solar system, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a mixing bowl and make something comforting and delicious and today I got that chance.

My bunkmate, Ames, works in the cafeteria. When he found out I knew my way around a kitchen, he let me join him late last night for a little midnight baking party.

I wanted to make something celebratory and vibrant, yet wholesome and nourishing. Something we could share with our friends this morning as we watched Ocasta get bigger and bigger on all the viewscreens.

So, I made scones. Big, fluffy, buttery carb chonks filled with sparkling bits of freeze-dried berries like edible confetti, drizzled with a lemon-gin icing that I whipped up using a splash of the gin we were also drinking to celebrate our successful journey.

They were a big hit! I’ve adjusted the cooking temperature and bake times for standard Earth altitude, if anyone back home decides to try making these (I hope you do). They go just as well with a cup of hot coffee as they do with a glass of sparkling wine—I prefer recipes that are versatile like that.

Be sure to keep the butter extra-cold for maximum flakiness in your scones, and don’t be shy about changing up the mix-ins. Nuts, chocolate chips, apple bits, coconut, go wild.
Okay, I’m being told that outside food “isn’t allowed” in the Starbucks Lounge, so I’m signing off for now to go enjoy my victory scone in peace up in the garden observation deck. Until next time, friends.

Landfall Raspberry Buttermilk Scones with Lemon-Gin Glaze
Adapted from Tartine. Makes 12-16 scones

For the scones:

  • 680 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
  • 9 ounces cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 12 ounces buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup roughly crushed freeze-dried raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries of your liking

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.
  • Scatter your cold, cubed butter over the flour mixture and use a pastry cutter, the back of a fork, two knives, or whatever else you have on hand to cut the butter in to the dry ingredients. If you want to dirty a food processor, you can give it a couple pulses in there to get the job done quick. The butter should be evenly dispersed into pea-sized lumps.
  • Add the buttermilk and fresh berries all at once and mix gently until the dough holds together. If it seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk.
  • Sprinkle your freeze-dried berries over the dough and gently fold it in with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Turn out the dough onto a flour-dusted work area and pat it into a rectangle at least 1 1/2 inches thick. If you want decadent chonky bois, go for 2 inches or a little over.
  • Brush the top of the dough with melted butter, then use a circular biscuit cutter to cut out disks (or you can use a knife or pastry cutter to make rectangles if you feel like it).
  • Transfer the dough disks to your prepared baking sheet and bake until the tops of the scones are rich, golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
  • While the scones bake, whisk together your gin, lemon juice, pinch of salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Tip: sift the sugar first before adding the liquid to avoid any undissolved sugar clumps.
  • When the scones are done, let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack and drizzling with glaze.

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