Scones were never my go-to breakfast item, as I so often found them to be either dry and crumbly or cakey and under-flavored (or all of the above – heartbreaking, but true). That all changed, however, several years ago, when I discovered a novel scone-making technique via the folks at Big Sur Bakery. At Big Sur Bakery, scone dough is treated very much like pie dough – whereby cold butter is cut into flour, liquid is added, and the whole delicious mess is kneaded hardly at all. The scone dough is literally portioned out and pressed into a round, high sided cookie/biscuit cutter (as opposed to using a cookie cutter to cut shapes from rolled or even pressed flat dough), resulting in the flakiest most buttery of breakfast treats.
I first incorporated this technique when making these mixed berry scones, and am now at it again, this time with brown sugar and currant cream scones (you’re welcome). Hyperbolic as this might sound, when I make these for folks, they tell me that they are the best scones they have ever had (and I’m not talking about my mom, who basically says that about everything I make, and so, sadly, cannot be trusted). This cream scones recipe is easy peasy and fast (the dough spends some time resting in the freezer – but requires very little hands on time) and please feel free to sub out the currants for any dried fruit you so desire.
Brown Sugar Cream Scones with Dried Currants
- 2 sticks unsalted butter cold
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsps pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 1/4 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp table salt rounded
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup dried currants
For the egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 2 tsps heavy cream
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- Cut the butter into small cubes and place in the freezer. Combine the cream and vanilla in a glass measuring cup, whisk to combine, and place in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar, and whisk to combine. Remove the butter from the freezer and add it to the bowl of dry ingredients. Using your hands, toss the butter in the flour mixture until all of the butter pieces are covered. Then, using your fingers, smear/press the butter into the flour, breaking up the butter pieces as you do so. When you are finished, you should have a bowl of crumbly, buttery-floury bits and not a lot of loose, dry flour.
- Add the cream and vanilla, and with your hands or a wooden spoon, mix gently to combine, until all of the dough is moistened by the cream and is – for the most part – in pea-sized clumps (if you squeeze a bit of dough in your hand at this point, it should stay together, but the goal is not to create a single mass of dough). Add the currants and mix again. Place the bowl in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for at least an hour, and up to overnight.
- Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or softened butter and line with parchment.
- Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and stir once to combine. The dough should still be loose and clumpy at this point – like pie dough that has not yet been kneaded together. Dip a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, that is at least a one-inch tall, in flour, and using your hands, begin pressing the dough into the cutter, filling it until it is tightly packed (i.e.: you are shaping the dough into a hockey puck of sorts, with 1-inch sides and a 2 1/2 inch diameter – if you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can make this shape, as best you can, in your hands).
- Gently push the shaped dough out of the cutter and on to the prepared baking sheet, re-flour your cookie cutter, and continue making “pucks,” until you run out of dough.
- To make the egg wash, whisk the egg and heavy cream in a small bowl, and brush the mixture on the tops of the scones. Sprinkle (generously) with Turbinado sugar, and place in the freezer for about an hour, or over-night.
- Preheat the oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove all but six scones from the baking sheet (you only want to bake six at a time, as they do spread a bit) and bake for 24-28 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until the scones are golden brown and the tops are firm and dry to the touch.
- Repeat with the remaining scones (or place them unbaked in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer, and bake them off at a later date, when the feeling moves you).
- Let the scones cool for a bit, and serve when they are warm or at room temperature with butter and jam (al- though truly, they need no accompaniment – yes: they are that good).