Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Currant Scones

Ever since I moved to Vermont, I've been driving a lot more than I used to.  It's not day-to-day driving that's increased, but the longer car journeys to visit family and friends at home.  I've been bouncing back and forth for the various holidays and birthdays that seem to be stockpiled between November and April.

I enjoy going home, but I'm not fond of long car rides.  I decided that I needed a little treat during these treks, which led to the birth of scone and cappuccino car rides.  At the beginning of each trip, I treat myself to a warm, tall jolt of caffeine to keep me awake and a scone because I love them and need something to go with the cappuccino.

I usually start sipping the coffee before I've even made it from the coffee shop to the car, but I always stash the scone for later.  After a few hours when all my music starts to sound the same and the scenery becomes dull and drab, I reach for the scone and break off a corner.  The first bite is always a crescendo of excitement for a much needed diversion.

Unfortunately, not all scones are created equal.  In fact, some scones are downright dry and flavorless or heavy and overly iced.  So you can imagine the wave of disappointment I experience when the scone I've been saving stinks.

A scone should be delicate and moist on the inside, speckled with sweet currants or other fruits and nuts, lightly sprinkled with sugar and baked to a light golden brown. It's even better served with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. 

After too many dud scones, I've tweaked my scone and cappuccino tradition.  I bake a large batch of scones, then thaw one for each car ride, guaranteeing a delicious scone each time.  I'm tempted to bring a tub of clotted cream and jam, although I'm sure my steering wheel will end up slicked with grease and my pants spotted with jam.

There is little variation between scone recipes.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Cut the ice cold butter into the dry ingredients, then stir in the wet ingredients until the dough comes together.  Roll the dough out, cut into scones and bake.

The main difference between scone recipes is the type of wet ingredient used to glue the dough together.  The scones I had been baking use heavy cream, however I've come across many recipes using buttermilk, so I decided to give it a try.

The results were delicious.  The buttermilk lightens the scone while adding a slight tangy flavor, and it's an added bonus that buttermilk contains much less fat than heavy cream.  I've altered my currant scone recipe and replaced the heavy cream with buttermilk.  I almost look forward to car rides now just for the promise of one of my delicious currant scones.

Traditional Currant Scones
Makes 12-13 scones

2 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, ice cold
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dried currants

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Whisk the flour and sugar together. Cut the ice cold butter into small pieces and place in the flour mixture.  Using your hands, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is similar in texture to coarse breadcrumbs.  Stir in the currants.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.  Add this to the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together.

3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently pat into a round of 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut out scones using a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.

4. Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Sprinkle sugar over the tops and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the scones are lightly browned.  Place on a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temp.

To freeze, wrap the scones in plastic and place in the freezer.  Before a long car ride or tea time with your friends, simply remove from the freezer and thaw at room temp.  You can also reheat them in the oven for a few minutes to bring back the warmth of a freshly baked scone.



  1. Wow what a beautiful scones recipe :) I just love currant and I think it's the great addition to the scones :)

  2. Gorgeous scones! Now why don't I have one here for my breakfast????

  3. Hmm, well if I had all that cappuccino at the beginning of a car trip I would never get there ... it would be bathroom pit stops every 5 minutes! Your scones, however, I could totally handle!!

  4. Thanks for the comments!

    And Trix - bathroom pitstops are certainly a part of my car rides, thanks to the giant cappuccino!

  5. These a lovely - I adore currants! These scones look absolutely flaky and delicious. Love the buttermilk too.



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