When I read about the St. Patrick’s day food blogging event hosted by Kochtopf, I immediately started thinking back to the time I spent backpacking around Ireland while studying abroad. What immediately stood out as a culinary high point of my travels were the scones so widely available in every cafe and local shop. Scones weren’t quite so ubiquitous in the U.S. at that point, at least not in the tiny town in Western Massachusetts where I found myself for college. But all over Ireland (and England as well, where I was studying abroad), scones were served alongside pots of tea and tiny jars of jam and clotted cream. Currant cream scones were especially popular in Ireland and England and with my limited previous exposure to the dark, winey fruit, I still can’t help but associate currants with that trip.
Admittedly this recipe from Epicurious (originally printed in Gourmet in December 1991) which adds pecans and cinnamon, is a decidedly American twist on the classic currant cream scone. But I thought it was worth a try since the quantities of butter and heavy cream required seemed more reasonable than they are for many scone recipes. Turns out the “healthiness” of the recipe might be more a product of the fact that it only makes 6 small scones, but then again, that can be a plus as well since though I love scones for a weekend brunch treat, I certainly don’t need to keep munching on them all throughout the week.
These scones were definitely on the drier side- almost like a slightly sweet and fruited biscuit-and so definitely required a spread to complement them. Despite an accidental doubling of the cinnamon (whoops!), the pecan and cinnamon flavors were actually quite subtle, almost unnoticable. We had the scones for breakfast served alongside a cup of coffee and a spoonful of Bonne Maman chestnut spread (a chestnut jam which can be found in nicer supermarkets and specialty shops). A little taste of Ireland and a lovely start to a gorgeous day.
1/4 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing the scones
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar plus additional for sprinkling the scones
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I accidentally doubled it, but the flavor was still very subtle)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried currants
1. In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of the cream, the egg yolk, and the vanilla.
2. Into a larger bowl sift together the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the salt, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the cinnamon, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pecans, the currants, add the cream mixture with a fork until the mixture forms a sticky but manageable dough.
3. Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured surface for 30 seconds, pat it into a 3/4-inch-thick round, and cut it into 6 wedges and transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet,. (Or as I did, spoon dollops of dough onto a prepared baking sheet for drop scones.) Brush them with the additional cream, and sprinkle them with the additional sugar. Bake the scones in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are golden.