nosh friday: currant scones
Confession: sometimes I eat scones instead of going to church. On wintery, snowy Sunday mornings, when I wake up and the flurrying flakes are visible even through my half-open blinds, when the cool stillness makes me snuggle under the covers and lay there, just breathing, for awhile; these mornings tend to make me homebound. I’ll snap on my church’s podcast, dig out my favorite scone-making bowl and check my fridge, crossing my fingers for buttermilk. The kettle gets set to boiling, my favorite teapot waits anxiously with a few scoops of the looseleaf English Breakfast tea I begged from an overseas friend and I prepare to enter the Sanctuary of the Scone.
I’ve tried many a scone recipe and out of all of them, this comes to the closest to my ideal scone. It’s a wonderful blank scone recipe, where you can add anything you want. Currants are a favorite for me, thanks to my English days, but I’ve done dried cherries, frozen blueberries, chocolate chips, crystallized ginger and more. They are a flaky, delicious canvas, waiting for your personal stamp.
(And if you’re feeling extra saucy, don’t forget to stick out your pinky finger while drinking your tea and pronounce them as “scons“.)
From “From Scratch”
2 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
2 t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
8 T. cold butter
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. dried currants
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Firstly, place your currants in a small bowl and just cover with very hot water. This will help plump them up a little before they nestle into the scone dough. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Once combined, cut your cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and toss them with the dry mixture, using your hands to push the butter between your fingers, “rubbing” it into the dry ingredients. Once the butter is the size of peas, brush off your hands and set the mixture aside. (Leaving these larger chunks of butter is what keeps the dough flaky. If you like your scones a little sturdier, work the mixture until it looks more like coarse sand.)
Drain your currants well and stir them into the dry ingredients. You are most welcome to use your preferred fruit, nut or chocolate of choice or leave them plain, if you’d like. If you are going to use fruit (i.e. blueberries, raspberries, etc.), make sure it’s frozen and in small pieces. This will help keep the dough from getting too wet. (I made the mistake once of adding raspberry jam in place of raspberries, thinking it would be fine. I ended up scooping the batter into muffin tins and christening them “scuffins.”)
In a separate small bowl, whisk your buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Combine with the dry mixture and stir till the dough just comes together, then stop. You don’t want to over-mix this dough or you’ll end up with hockey pucks because the gluten developed too much. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead dough very lightly until it fully comes together and pat it into a circle about 1/2 inch thick, then cut into 8 wedges. Brush them lightly with egg wash (1 egg + 1/2 c. milk) and sprinkle with raw sugar if you fancy.
Bake for 18 minutes until golden brown.
These are best served warm and eaten within a day or two.