& winter continues! We have another storm on the way, even though Boston has by far surpassed its snow quota for the month, season, & year. Most of us have, of course, gotten into the snow prep groove - making sure we have the necessary groceries so we won’t need to leave the house; placing the shovels & ice scrapers, boots & gloves out by door; pulling our windshield wipers up so they don’t freeze to the window.
But I bet most people haven’t thought to round out their prep with scones, insuring a delicious breakfast to savor while the flakes pile up outside & a filling snack to warm you after pumping the snowy iron as you dig your front steps, car, or entire roof out of the white mess.
They’re simple & delicious. & they have currants. Currants are like diminutive raisins. An elegant form of the dried grape. Almost haute couture. Very…au courant, if you will.
Ahem. Did I take that too far?
Anyways, currants come from a small, hardy shrub that is quite different from a grape vine, despite the similar taste of the dried berries to raisins. & even though they are rather delicious, packing all the punch of grapes with just a tad more brightness, currants are less widespread than raisins, probably due to the fact that currant cultivation was banned in the United States from 1911 to 2003.
During this past almost-century, currants scared the bejeezus out of people, since they thought cultivation might threaten the timber industry. A certain disease, by the name of White Pine Blister Rust, loves those to feed off the needled pines & also likes to gestate in the shrub (though it does not harm them). This ban has since been lifted, but people still aren’t crazy about the risk. I don’t blame them. Any disease that combines the words “blister” & “rust” sounds pretty awful to me.
But when they’re added to scones, the tiny fruit is a perfect complement to these light & flaky pastries, which aren’t anywhere near the overly sweet hockey pucks that Starbucks passes off as a breakfast treat of the same name. Pulling these open reveals a layered interior that provides a great canvas for butter, jam, or, as I like, nothing - they are flavorful enough on their own & seem to be made for eating with your fingers, flaky layer by flaky layer, as the other flakes pile up outside.
Cream & Currant Scones
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, grated & cold
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Half & Half, divided
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt & cinnamon, if you so desire.
Then, quickly, toss in the butter & stir gently till the butter is well dispersed before adding in the currants.
Pour in the Half & Half & stir till combined & then knead a couple times till a ball forms. Place the ball & bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface & roll out the dough to a square about 12 x 12 inches. Then, fold the dough, as you would a business envelope into thirds & fold that 4 x 12 rectangle into thirds again to form a 4 x 4 square. Place the square back into the bowl & back into the fridge for another 5 minutes (we just want to keep it nice & cold at this point).
Roll the dough out again into a 12 x 12 square & starting from one end, roll the dough into a log, patting it down to about 12 x 4 once you reach the end.
With a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 squares, then cut each square on the diagonal to form 8 triangles. Place triangles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Half & Half, & bake for 12-14 minutes in a preheated, 425 degree oven until the scones are a light golden brown.
Eat & Enjoy!