Today we are going to make authentic English currant scones, but first, let me take you on a little journey across the Pond to set this up!
In England, currants are used in currant jelly for their Sunday roasts, as well as in scones. In Germany, they are used in fruit soups, summer puddings, tarts and tortes.
This spring, we had an abundance of red currants on our two bushes, and thinking back to our time in England, we knew they were just the thing to bake into the scones!
On a chilly day in September of 2010 our family was caught outside the walled city of York during a little rainstorm. Huddling under our jackets and pulling our scarves closer about our necks didn’t do a mite to keep out that pesky dampness.
We were into the afternoon and still had a drive that night, but we weren’t going to allow pesky rain to spoil our time in this magical place of lords and ladies. We strolled, umbrellas in hand, inspecting the wall and turrets – one tower even originated from Roman times.
We wandered through the York Minster, little shops, bookstores, clothing stores, and even considered eating a very late lunch in a catholic church-turned-cafe. But, since we arrived just as they were cleaning up for the day, we stood a moment in the ancient alcove chatting happily with the manager of the establishment.
We could have described ourselves as ‘wet rats’, reminding us of Kenneth Grahame’s “Ratty”, a water rat, from The Wind in the Willows.
We trekked onward and shortly came across Little Betty’s Cafe, a delightful, smelling-of-cocoa, cozy, three-story restaurant and tea establishment.
From chocolates, nuts, baked goods, and of course teas, Little Betty’s had it all!
In the upstairs tea room, we ordered a family-sized cream tea which consisted of a scone per person, Devonshire clotted-cream, an assortment of jams, and as many cups of tea as we desired.
Before we went to England, we thought that scone was pronounced so as to rhyme with tone, but a friend living in England at the time kindly informed us that it was pronounced so as to rhyme with gone.
This difference in pronunciation is made obvious by the following little ditty:
“I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.”
While we don’t know conclusively that our scones in York were made with currants, we do think so – large burgundy ones. Warm from the oven, we felt sufficiently refreshed to renew our adventures.
So, now that we have a little background, I will teach you how to make scones the British way.
(If you have ingredients such as self raising flour and caster sugar and a metric system of measurement, please use this recipe.)
Authentic Currant Scones Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar (if you experiment, I’m pretty sure honey will work)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup currants (you can sub raisins or any other suitable fruit)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
With a pastry blender, fingers, or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Stir in currants or raisins. Make a well in center; add buttermilk and egg, and stir just until combined (do not overwork).
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface; knead 5 or 6 times. Do not over-knead.
Pat into an 8-inch disk. With a floured 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Re-roll and cut scraps until all batter is used.
Transfer to baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Brush rounds with milk; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, if desired.
Bake until scones are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 scones. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be frozen and later reheated once thawed.
“When porridge doth boil and scald,
And beans are old and droll,
When haggis doth make thee galled,
And cold eggs sit in thy bowl,
When toast is stale and very auld,
With bacon burnt as coal,
Take to thyself a piping stack of currant scones.”
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