Black Currant Scones

Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that I am practically in love with Rose Levy Beranbaum. So, with the last of Nadine’s CSA currants, I decided to forgo my usual scone recipe and try Rose’s currant scone recipe.

This is a somewhat unusal recipe, as scones go; the butter is flattened into flakes and the dough is rolled out and folded, much like making puff pastry. Because you only do four turns (instead of the many, many turns required for puff pastry) and you do not have to roll the dough very thin, this is pretty easy to work with, but still, a bit more effort than your basic scone recipe where the butter is cut into the dough and the dough barely kneaded to hold shape.

That being said, these were quite delicious; buttery, flaky and moist. The texture is flakier, and a bit more cake-like than a traditional scone, however the currants become marvelousy sticky and delicious in the baking time, and the sweet-tart, spicy, almost-savory complexity of black currants really shines in this rich, buttery scone. Fresh black currants can be hard to come by, even in season, so if you see some at your local farm or market, do pick some up, if only to pop them in the freezer: this scone is worth a try.

Adapted from Currant Scones in The Pie & Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Black Currant Scones

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 oz (about 2 and 1/2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) raw sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or heavy cream, plus extra for glazing
  • 1 scant cup black currants, rinsed, picked through and stemmed

METHODS

  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and freeze for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 degrees F convection).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, and salt. Add butter, and using your fingers, flatten out the butter pieces to large flakes. Mix in the buttermilk or cream just until the flour is moistened and begins to form large clumps; add the currants. Mix well and knead the dough in the bowl until it will hold together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour across the top of the dough and rub some flour along a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick and about 6 by 10 inches. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a business letter; turn a quarter turn (so a folded side is now on your left) and roll out again to 1-inch thickness. Repeat the roll-and-fold for a total of 4 turns. If the dough becomes too sticky, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes; then resume.
  4. Roll out the dough one final time into a 1-inch thick, approximately 6 by 10-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or long knife, cut the rectangle lengthwise, then make alternating diagonal cuts in order to form triangular scones. Transfer scones, about 1 inch apart, to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat (scones will rise but will not spread). Brush tops with buttermilk or cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until scones are brown at the edges and there is very little give when pressed lightly with a finger. Transfer from the pan to cool on wire racks.

Yields about 14 scones.

OPTIONS

  1. I made a number of changes to the original recipe, including halving the recipe, increasing the amount of currants, baking powder and sugar, and replacing heavy cream with buttermilk.
  2. As you might notice from the pictures, I used frozen currants here: they work just as well, perhaps even slightly better, than fresh currants, as they do not mush as much into the dough when they are frozen. There is no need to thaw the berries prior to using in the dough.
  3. Dried cranberries, fresh, frozen or dried blueberries or any small dried fruit would work in this dough. Also, Rose suggests adding 3 tbsp poppy seeds and 2 tbsp lemon zest for lemon poppy seed scones. I suspect that fresh red, pink or white currants are too delicate to maintain their shape through the rolling & folding process.

STORE

For 2 days at room temperature, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, or up to 3 months frozen, double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

SEASON

Fresh black currants are in season in summer, but with dried or frozen currants you could make these scones year-round.

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3 comments

  1. Kim

    Oooh, those scones look lovely! They are one thing I have never really tried to make. I always order them at coffee shops, but for some reason nevery thought to actually bake them! Of course right now I am in baked good overload, so I won’t be making anything sweet any time soon. But maybe when the weather gets cooler I will use some of my frozen raspberries…hmmm…

    RYN: After some research, I found out that mace and nutmeg come from the same tree! Mace supposedly has a milder, subtler taste than nutmeg, but I figure my uneducated taste buds probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference!

  2. localkitchen

    Scones can take some practise, but once you get the hang of it, they are super easy; come together very quickly, bake more consistently than a muffin, last longer at room temp and freeze really well. I almost always have some in the freezer for on-the-go breakfast (or scone-and-wine dinner).

    For this recipe, I wouldn’t use thawed raspberries; because of the rolling of the dough, they would all be turned to mush before you got them in the oven. You could either keep them frozen until just before adding them to the dough, or you could try my other scone recipe:

    http://localkitchen.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/wild-blueberry-grapefruit-scones/

    where you don’t roll the dough but simply pat it into shape.

    You know, later in the fall when you have all that time for scone baking. ;)

  3. Marilyn Thaden

    Best scones we’ve ever eaten! We have loads of fresh black currants from our own bushes, and this is one great way to enjoy them.

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