Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Photo credit: Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief of Kitchn
Winding & Unwinding Vines with Blackberries and Scones

In these final days of fall, if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across a snaggle of blackberry vines and clusters of overlooked hidden gems. Perhaps they managed to escape the hands of other explorers earlier in the season, or perhaps, they were meant for you.

As blackberry season comes to a close in October, some might look upon these plants as an invasive species, while others might see them as inspiration because of how they grow — wild and free. Their meandering nature is not unlike the winding roads in and around Big Sur, dotted with local treasures ripe for discovery. 

Our Highway 1 neighbor to the north, Big Sur Bakery, often serves up pastries featuring berries and blackberries. Paired with morning coffee rituals or afternoon tea reflections, these delicious treats are the perfect part of an intentional moment of self-care to help you unwind racing thoughts, discern to do lists, and let go of attachments to make space for possibility.

The sign for Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant among other businesses as you pass it on Highway 1 on the way to Esalen
Photo credit: CaliforniaBeaches.com

Blackberry Scones

Prep time: begin the first step two hours before oven time


Makes two dozen

  • 1 c fresh blackberries 
  • 3 ½ c all-purpose flour 
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • ¾ - 1 c well-shaken cultured buttermilk 
  • 2-4 tbsp turbinado sugar


  1. About 2 hours before making the scones, scatter the berries or fruit on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. (If using large berries, cut them in half.) 
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and drop in the cubed butter. Put the bowl in the freezer and leave it there for 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone baking mat. Set aside. 
  4. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work the chilled ingredients together in the bowl until the butter cubes are the size of peas.
  5. Make a well in the center. Combine the vanilla and 3/4 cup buttermilk in a separate bowl, and pour the mixture into the well. 
  6. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy, slightly crumbly mass. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to let the flour absorb the liquid, then fold one more time. (If the dough seems simply too dry to come together, add 1 tablespoon buttermilk at a time until it just barely comes together. The dough should not be too wet; the scones will spread too much.)
  7. Add the frozen fruit and gently mix them in, trying not to crush them. 
  8. To shape the scones, scoop a small handful into your palm and press it into a tall, fat puck (idea: one inch high, three inches in diameter) and put it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, leaving enough room for the scones to double in size.
  9. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown around the sides but still tender in the middle.
  10. Carefully transfer the scones to a cooling rack and let them cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cool completely before storing in a loosely covered container. Store for up to three days.


  • Don’t skip the instructions to freeze the fruit and keep ingredients cold, including chilling the bowl of dry ingredients and butter before mixing.
  • The original recipe calls for larger dough portions to yield one dozen scones, but making smaller “pucks” yields two dozen, more personal-sized scones.

Wild & Free Ideas

  • Use vegan buttermilk. Here are 7 substitutions.
  • Add lemon zest to the turbinado sugar sprinkle.
  • Go butter-free with a coconut oil substitute. For this scones recipe, pre-mix ¾ c of coconut oil with ¼ c of tepid water. 

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?

The Esalen kitchen has its own collection of delicious bakery items, plus new additions to the menu all the time. Check into planning your next visit here.


Esalen Team