Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I used to bake hundereds of scones every day. Hundreds. Every morning, before the city woke up I poured myself the biggest cup of coffee I could find, and fired up two commercial ovens. Then I measured, mixed, cut, measured, mixed, cut, on repeat, for hours. I emptied 25 pound sacks of flour and 50 pound sacks of sugar into bins. I used butter by the case, buttermilk and cream by the gallon. I got strong and fast and efficient and I learned what happened when you over-mixed and under-baked pastries (bad stuff).
I liked the quiet mornings and the methodical work because once I got good at it, my mind had plenty of time to wander. I dreamt up all kinds of flavors (some more well received than others) and I loved the freedom to create, but after a few years of those mornings the thought of actually eating a scone was so incredibly unappealing that it took me nearly 7 months to even think about baking scones at home. Then it took another month for me to actually get around to it, but an extra lovely batch of red currants gave me the courage I needed to get back to sconing.
Be warned, the fresh currants make these scones quite tart, but they are excellent with a bit of butter and jam if you find them sour. I imagine they would also be delicious with a bit of lemon or orange glaze too. You can make citrus glaze by whisking about a cup of confectioner's sugar with a few tablespoons of lemon or orange juice until smooth. A bit of finely grated zest would also be a nice addition to the glaze.
Currant Oat Scones
yield, 8 scones
This recipe calls for buttermilk and heavy cream, but if you'd like to only use one type of liquid you can also 100% heavy cream. The scones may be a bit more dense and rich, but that is definitely not a bad thing.
10 ounces all purpose flour
1.5 ounces rolled oats (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1.5 ounces sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces buttermilk
4 ounces, plus 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces red currants or other berries
Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and orange zest. Use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Alternately, you can mix the dough for this step in a food processor.
2. Add the currants to the mixture and toss gently to combine. Make a well in the center of mixture and pour in the buttermilk, vanilla and the 4 ounces of heavy cream. Stir gently until just combined. The mixture should be soft and a little sticky, if it seems dry, add a few more tablespoons of buttermilk or heavy cream.
3. Working quickly, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into a circle about 1.5 inches high. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream, then sprinkle the scones with the extra oats and sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are deep golden. Serve warm. The baked and cooled scones can also be stored in the freezer (wrapped tightly) for a few weeks. Warm in the oven before serving.