English Scones

British Scones

18 years ago, a scone saved my sanity. An interminable British Airways flight home from London was noticeably brightened by a solitary scone, secreted in a paper napkin and smuggled onboard. It was an orange-scented currant variety piled high with Cornish clotted cream and English strawberry jam – a souvenir from an earlier afternoon of high tea at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens. The flight attendant, upon noticing my stash, could only exclaim, “Ohhhh!!!” as she passed by.

In Fall of 2010, I was determined to sift through the various scone recipe permutations in my collection to arrive at – ta da: The Ultimate Scone Recipe. I would initiate head-to-head bake-offs between British and American, eggs and egg less, professional versions vs. home baked. On October 11, 2010, I completed my first recipe and simultaneously met a man, fell head over heels and utterly neglected the scone challenge. Nearly five years later, that guy is long gone yet the recipes remain, with a few added, I’m sure.

In memorial of the scone that restored my sanity and is forever etched in my brain:

Orange Scented Currant Scones
Slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 24 scones

3 c. All Purpose Flour
½ c. Sugar
2 T. Baking powder
½ t. Salt
8 T. Unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
¾ c. Dried currants, softened in water
2 t. Orange zest
1 c. Whole milk
2 Eggs

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat convection oven to 475 degrees. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in food processor for about 5-8 pulses. Add butter and pulse 30 more times until it looks like fine crumbs. Transfer mixer to large bowl and stir in currants and zest. Whisk milk and eggs together separately. Set aside 2 T. milk mixture. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold together until almost no dry bits of flour remain.

Transfer dough to a very well-floured board. With floured hands, kneed 25 – 30 times. Dough will be sticky – use flour as needed. Press gently to form a disk. Using a floured rolling pin, roll disk into a 9” round. Using floured 2” round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible, coating cutter with flour as needed. Do not twist cutter. Arrange scones on sheetpan with silpat. Gather scraps, knead again gently until surface is smooth. Roll dough and stamp out as many additional rounds as possible. Discard remaining dough.

Brush tops of scones with milk mixture. Reduce convection oven to 400 and bake scones until golden brown, 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking time. Store leftovers in freezer and reheat in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve with strawberry jam and clotted cream.


Anise Scented Orange Cake – version 1

Anise scented orange cake

Anise scented orange cake

This is what happens when a gibassier obsession meets fond memories of a butterkuchen sugary shard crust and a need for a 2015 Bundt cake contest recipe submission.

No recipe today.  It’s not quite right.  I think it would vastly improve as an Italian polenta cake. Back to the drawing board.