I had a hankering for currant scones the other day. The yen resulted from remembering how much I adored the book The Secret Garden as a little girl. I distinctly recall feeling ravenously hungry while reading about the hampers of wholesome country fare that Dickon's mother would pack for him and Mary and Colin to devour while they played in the garden, hidden behind its ivy-covered walls. Mmmmm.
Berkeley is a mecca for scone lovers -- between the Cheeseboard's dizzying selection and the tasty scones that Acme Bread Company churns out daily, we're basically surrounded by mouth-watering options. But I decided to make my own, partly because it sounded fun, partly because it looked easy, and partly because I'd never made them before and was curious about the process.
I'm pleased to report that this was one of the easier, more satisfying baking experiences I've had lately. The scones are simple and quick (and I even did the more complicated, time-consuming version that involves butter and eggs -- cream scones are even simpler) and they look, smell and taste lovely.
I used the Joy of Cooking's recipe though I substituted Meyer lemon zest for orange as that is what I had to hand and it seemed an even better fit to me. You could easily substitute dried cherries, cranberries, apricots or other fruit for the currants if you prefer. Cheerio!
Classic Currant Scones
Makes 8 to 12
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 tsps baking powder
* 6 Tbsps (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter
* 1/4 tsp Meyer lemon or orange zest (optional)
* 1/4 cup dried currants or raisins (currants will be better!)
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup heavy cream (plus more for brushing)
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sift he flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl:
2. Cut in the butter using either a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the largest bits are the size of small peas and the rest resemble breadcrumbs. Add the currants and stir briefly to combine.
3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl with the heavy cream and the zest. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients (you can make a well in the middle of them to pour the egg/cream into), then combine with a fork or wooden spoon until all the dry ingredients have been moistened. Pull together into a ball of dough by kneading against the sides of the bowl until it sticks together and the sides of the bowl are relatively clean. Try to handle the dough as little as possible as it will get stiff otherwise.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out into an 8" round. Cut into either 8 or 12 wedges, depending on how big you want the finished scones to be. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet and brush the tops with 2-3 tsps of heavy cream then sprinkly lightly with sugar or a mixture of cinammon and sugar.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. These are delicious on their own, as well as toasted with butter or cream cheese.
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