Scones – the quintessential British breakfast. I needed to bake them to soothe my anguish – the next season of Downton Abbey will be their last. Like many of you, I have become addicted (in a sweet, marshmallowy way) to the British Masterpiece series that started at the end of WW I. The series hooked us with gritty plots, likeable characters, romance, beautiful costumes all set in the real life Highclere Castle. I appreciated the historical accuracy of the upstairs-downstairs movements as we jockeyed from the servants to the pampered princesses…the starched aprons to the afternoon tea gowns and jewels.
With a sigh, I had to do something with my angst. So I baked – English Scones with Currant – those tiny raisins.
Not the world’s best pastry, but still, festive on a cold morning. I got the inspiration from an episode of Cook’s Country, a favorite public TV cooking show. Naturally, I changed a few things and recommend a few more additions to make them tastier. It was a fun experiment.
Ingredients for English Scones with Currants
3 cups flour
2 TBS baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
8 TBS butter (1/2 cup or one stick) – softened and cut into pieces
1 cup milk (Reserve 2 TBS for egg wash)
¾ cup currants (Try soaking them first in a liquor or brandy)
Zest from one orange
1 additional egg for egg wash
Turbinado or sanding sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. When you are ready to bake them, turn the heat down to 425 degrees F.
If you have a food processor, start by pulsing the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt about 5 times.
Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture resembles crumbs. (20 pulses)
If you don’t have a food processor, whisk the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter.
Whisk the milk and 2 eggs together and then stir into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the currants and orange zest.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 25 times.
The dough should be about 9” round and about 1” thick.
At this point, either cut the scones into rounds using cookie cutters or, more simply, cut the round of dough into 12 – 16 pieces like the pieces of a pie. In the second method you use all the dough at once so you don’t have to rework the dough again and again.
Place the scones on a parchment covered baking sheet.
Whisk the last egg with 2 TBS milk. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg mixture over the top of each scone.
Sprinkle each with the Turbinado sugar.
Remember to turn down the heat to 425 before you put them in the oven.
Bake 10 – 15 minutes
Suggestions for changes:
Instead of sanding them with sugar, you may want to make a light icing of orange juice and confectioner’s sugar and lightly frost them after they cool.
Swap out real raisins or blueberries, chocolate chips or a fruit of your choice.
Try soaking the currants or raisins in brandy or a liqueur. Reduce the milk by the amount of liquid you soak the fruit in.