Currant Cream Scones
Cream scones—rich British tea biscuits—have a flaky, slightly cakelike texture. The secret to making tender scones is to use a very light touch, work quickly and put them in the oven immediately after cutting. Glaze them with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or Demerara sugar for the finishing touch just before they go into the oven. Scones are traditionally served warm, split open and topped with chunky fruit preserves, clotted cream or lemon curd.
For the dough:
- 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
- 1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) dried currants
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) heavy cream
For the topping:
- 1 Tbs. granulated, Demerara or turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. whole milk or heavy cream
Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the scones by hand, in a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Stir in the currants. Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
To make the scones using a mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a bowl and beat on low speed for a few seconds to mix. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed just until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Scatter the currants over the dough. Pour in the cream and mix for a few seconds just until moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press together gently until it clings together in a ball. Pat out into a round about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick and 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm) in diameter. Cut the round into 6 wedges, or use a 3-inch (7.5-cm) biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place the wedges 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the prepared pan.
To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Brush the wedges with the milk and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake until golden brown, 13 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 6 scones.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking (Weldon Owen, 2003)