Even if my husband weren’t Irish-American, I would love scones. Buttery, crumbly, and altogether lovely, they melt in your mouth. During my vanillathon with Kelly last weekend, I started playing around with a favorite scone recipe that features candied ginger. Substituting currants and vanilla for the ginger takes the scones back to their traditional roots, but retains the fantastic crumbly texture of the original recipe. After a few tweaks and another taste test by the resident scone-master, these currant scones are now ready for prime time.
Why use currants and not raisins? Both currants and raisins are dried grapes. The difference is in the type of grape they come from, and consequently the size and taste of the dried fruit. Currants are dried red grapes, typically the zante variety native to Greece. Raisins (including the type known as golden raisins in the U.S. and sultanas in Great Britain) are dried green grapes. In general, currants are smaller and a bit more tart than raisins. Traditionally scones are made with currants and I prefer them in this recipe for their size and taste.
Three Notes About This Recipe:
- The butter must be cold, preferably frozen, when it is incorporated into the dough. Its cold temperature keeps the butter from merging completely into the dry ingredients, and the result is a nice, crumbly texture.
- The dough must be refrigerated before baking for at least 2 hours. This step makes the recipe a great one for a brunch; you can make the dough the night before, let it sit overnight, and bake the scones fresh the next morning.
- I make these in a food processor. If you don’t have a procesor, mix the ingredients by hand or, as Nancy Silverton suggests, in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. For hand mixing, use a fork to mix the dry ingredients, two knives to cut the butter in (making a crossing motion), and the fork to stir in the cream.
Currant Scones with Vanilla and Cinnamon
Servings – 8 or 9 medium size scones Cost – $4.50-5 (less than 70¢ per scone)
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Ginger Scones
- 2¼ all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar (white)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 ounces (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold (preferably frozen), cut into small chunks. I cut stick into 8 tablespoons, then halve those pieces.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream, plus extra for brushing scones before baking
- ½ cup currants
- Food processor with metal blade (or see notes above – use fork and 2 knives to mix)
- Medium size bowl
- Measuring cups for solids
- Measuring cup for liquid
- Measuring spoons
- Knife (for cutting butter)
- Waxed paper
- Large baking sheet
- Parchment or baking mat
- Round biscuit or cookie cutter about 2” in diameter
- Small bowl or ramekin
- Wire rack
- Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon into the food processor bowl. Pulse several times to blend them.
- Add the butter chunks and pulse 10-15 times until the mixture is barely blended. The butter should be in small pieces before you add it, resulting in a pebbly-looking mixture after blending it into the dry ingredients.
- Add the vanilla to the heavy cream in the (liquid) measuring cup and pour that into the processor. Pulse about 5 more times until it is combined with the other ingredients, but the dough does not yet hold together.
- Dump the dough into the mixing bowl. Add the currants and mix with your hands, just until they are dispersed throughout the dough. Do not overmix.
- Tear off a large sheet of wax paper and place the dough on it. Don’t worry if the dough seems too crumbly. Press it together into a round about 1” tall and cover with more wax paper. I tape the wax paper shut but you don’t have to be so obsessive – just make sure no air gets into dough.
- Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Take dough out of refrigerator and cut into 8-9 circles with the cutter. (If you don’t have a biscuit or cookie cutter, use a glass of approximately that size.) If you cut them close together, you should only have a few scraps left, which make the final scone or two. Try not to handle the dough much, and don’t let it sit out for long. It should be cold when it goes into the oven.
- Place the scones on the parchment or mat-lined baking sheet at least 1” apart and brush the tops with heavy cream.
- Bake the currant scones for about 12-16 minutes. The top and bottom edges should be lightly brown and the tops may crack slightly.
- Cool on a wire rack.