Scones

Freshly Baked Scones

“This crazy came in during the lull between the late-afternoon muffin-and-scone crowd and the early supper eaters so there weren’t too many people around.”
-Sunshine

Today’s bout of flour and butter madness is brought to you from the snows of Boston. Guest starring in this episode of incredible edibles is the infallible food connoisseur Cassie. She’s eaten some of the best food in the world (and luckily for me I was cooing and scarfing next to her for some of it) and she’s finally decided to start her own food blog: Ditch the Cilantro. Check it out if you’ve ever wanted to read wisdom from someone who’s eaten more Michelin stars than her age, but can wax poetic about craft beer.

Cassie is one of those lovely people who just happens to have a big container of currants and several pounds of butter on hand right next to an eager cherry red KitchenAid. So when it started to snow this morning, there was really only one thing to do. Scones.

Scones

Ingredients

IMGP97763/4 cup (3.3 oz) dried currants
4 3/4 (26.45 oz) cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3.4 oz) white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup coarse sugar crystals
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*

*Buttermilk Alternative

1 3/8 cup whole milk (just shy of 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar

Note on the Ingredients

There are dozens of scone flavor variations, many of which are excellent. With a good base, it’s pretty hard to eat a bad scone, what with them being gifted to us by the pastry gods. Plus, there’s the whole tea element which is so good whole civilizations based religions around it.

So you can easily toss is dried berries from every corner of your cupboard, mini chocolate chips and all manner of essential oils for a dignified party in your mouth (soiree in your mouth?), but to me the classic scone is a scone with currents and a bare hint of sweetness. More of an inclination towards sweetness, really. It usually also has cream, but, hey, there was practically a sharknado wrapped in a blizzard outside. Cut me some slack.

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cover currants with warm water in a bowl and set aside to moisten.

soaking currants

If you’re making your own buttermilk, which is my preferred method, mix the whole milk and vinegar in a glass or ceramic bowl now and stir. Set aside to chunkify.

Before you sift/whisk your dry ingredients, take stock of your scone-making equipment. If you have a pastry cutter, start dumping the flour into a large, shallow bowl to make it easy when you’re mashing the wire cage against the sides. If you have an exceptionally large food processor,  you can pour the dry directly into the base. If you have a KitchenAid mixer and a paddle attachment you can dump it into that matte silver bowl. Or if you just want to squidge some butter and have the artful streaks of flour on your face that prove you made these delectable treats, look for that large, shallow bowl and use your fingers.

Take all your dry goods–flour, baking powder, and baking soda– and mix them together. A sifter as all that lovely air in a powdery snowfall, but a whisk will be faster, less messy and almost as effectively. If you’re using machines, let them do the mixing.

Add sugar and salt.

Add all the unsalted butter to the mixer bowl. For a KitchenAid mix on low speed until butter cubes reduce to the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. For a food processor pulse for 30 seconds. Manual mixing times will vary, but scones are similar to pie crust in that your worst fear is over mixing. What you’re looking for is butter well distributed, but not blended into smithereens. If you’re using mechanical mixers and still seeing large chunks of butter, take a knife and hack the biggest pieces for a minute or two.

butter in the bowl

Drain currants and discard soaking water; mix currants, and buttermilk into the flour mixture on low speed just until the dough starts to hold together.

Adding currents

Again, over mixing is the fatal flaw, so I only mixed it on low speed for maybe 10 seconds. It probably could have used another 2-4 seconds.

mixed scone dough

The original recipe called for a rectangle 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches thick.

Scone log

This makes for some gigantic scone shapes.

Scone Triangles

Luckily I accidentally rolled the dough out to something twice as wide and half as tall so when I folded it over to reach the recommended height, I essentially made two scones on top of each other. When the sample scones came out of the oven puffier than ever, I baked the smaller version.

Giant scones in the oven

Baked Giant Scones

I sort of think Sunshine would prefer to serve and make bloated, bulbous scones with enough currants to cure scurvy, but these scones could feed a family of four, so I opted for the little ones.

For giant scones, take the taller log, Hold the blade vertically and cut it in half crosswise (where you’d do a hamburger fold for our elementary school readers) and then, still vertically, cut them into thirds. Cut each piece diagonally for a total of 12 scones.

For less-giant scones, make two logs or cut a wider rectangle in half and replicate the giant scone method for a total of 24 scones.

Before you pop them in the oven, brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar for a frosty finish. Bake about 18 minutes for giant scones, 15 minutes for less-giant scones.

Baking Scones

Eat warm with jam and clotted cream if you can get your hands on it (yes, in the US it’s pretty hard, but clotted cream, jam and tea with a warm scone is as close to perfect bliss as you’re going to get if you haven’t figured out that whole Enlightenment thing yet).

Less-Giant Scones

Ingredients

3/4 cup (3.3 oz) dried currants
4 3/4 (26.45 oz) cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3.4 oz) white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup coarse sugar crystals
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Buttermilk Alternative

1 3/8 cup whole milk (just shy of 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cover currants with warm water in a bowl and set aside to moisten.

If you’re making your own buttermilk, mix the whole milk and vinegar in a glass or ceramic bowl and stir. Set aside to chunkify.

Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda by whisk or sifter.

Add sugar and salt. Mix

Add all the unsalted butter to the mixer bowl. If using a KitchenAid mix on low speed until butter cubes reduce to the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. For a food processor pulse for 30 seconds. Manual mixing times will vary, but scones are similar to pie crust in that your worst fear is over mixing. What you’re looking for is butter well distributed, but not blended into smithereens. If you’re using mechanical mixers and still seeing large chunks of butter, take a knife and hack the biggest pieces for a minute or two.

Drain currants and discard soaking water; mix currants, and buttermilk into the flour mixture on low speed just until the dough starts to hold together. (KitchenAid low 12-14 seconds)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently shape into a rectangle.

For Giant Scones

Shape into a rectangle 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches thick. Hold the blade vertically and cut it in half crosswise and then, still vertically, cut them into thirds. Cut each piece diagonally for a total of 12 scones.

Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar for a frosty finish.

Bake for 18 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.

For Less-Giant Scones

Make two logs 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 3/4 inches thick or cut a 10 inch wide rectangle in half lengthwise (horizontal blade) and replicate the giant scone method for a total of 24 scones.

Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar for a frosty finish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.

Eat warm with jam and clotted cream.

hot scones

2 thoughts on “Scones

  1. I just just discovered your blog. I love it! This is one of my favorite books, and I think my love of cooking comes partially from this book.

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