Currant scones are one of the best-sellers at pastry chef Joanne Chang's Boston bakery, Flour, and after she made me a batch in her home kitchen it was easy to see why. Featured in her eponymous new cookbook, the scones were humble and not-too-sweet with the perfect mix of crisp, fluffy, and buttery that equals oh-so-satisfying.
In the introduction to this recipe in Flour, Joanne Chang says: "When you've had a scone prepared the right way, it's like true love: you know it when you see it, and if you have to ask, it's not the real thing." — and that probably says it all.
The scones certainly were a joy to nibble and still tasted delicious the next day when my husband couldn't stop at one and stuffed himself with two for breakfast.
Flour Bakery's Classic Currant Scones
2 3/4 cups (385 grams) unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (80 grams) dried currants
1/2 cup (1 stick, 114 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold crème fraîche
1 cold egg
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and currants on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter
is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, crème fraîche, and whole egg until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. There will still be a little loose flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl.
Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl, so that it starts to pick up the loose flour at the bottom. Turn over the dough several times until all of the loose flour is mixed in.
Dump the dough onto a baking sheet and pat it into an 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk evenly over the entire top of the dough circle. Sprinkle the sanding sugar evenly over the top, then cut the circle into 8 wedges, as if cutting a pizza. (At this point, the unbaked scones can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. Proceed as directed, baking directly from the freezer and adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.)
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the entire circle is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then cut into the prescored wedges (the cuts will be visible but will have baked together) and serve.
The scones taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300-degree-F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300-degree-F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
• Get the Book: Flour by Joanne Chang, $20 on Amazon.com
(Images: Sarah Rainwater)