Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I find that the urge to bake sometimes strikes me at the strangest times. But some weekends, as soon as I wake up, I know I must get my hands into some flour and bake up something delicious. That was the case on Saturday morning, although a quick walk to the supermarket was needed before I could go any further. It was gorgeously sunny at the time, although within a few minutes of stepping in the front door again, the sky clouded over and it began to rain hard. I love rainy day baking.
The recipe I picked for March in the Tartine Cookbook Project I’m doing with Mark was the Buttermilk Scones, which make an absolutely perfect morning or afternoon snack with a steaming hot cup of tea. These are not the kind of scones I am used to making – usually they are made with whipped cream and a little milk instead of butter and buttermilk, but I loved these all the same.
They seemed more rustic and hearty than the light and dainty cream scones. Originally I was going to substitute dried cranberries for the black currants, but this time I decided to stay true to the recipe. There is no reason that you couldn’t substitute other dried fruit such as apricots, cherries or chopped dates and figs.
I used to be nervous about making scones, but I have learned that the less you work the dough, the more tender and delicious they will be. In this recipe, being able to see some of the butter pieces is important because they will make the scones nice and flaky. The scones are at their absolute best when still warm from the oven. Also, make sure you go and check out Mark’s post about the delicious looking Banana and Date Teacake!
Adapted From Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Makes 12 scones
• ½ cup black currants
• 4 ¾ cups plain flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
• 250g unsalted butter, very cold
• 1 ½ cups buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
• About 3 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
• Raw sugar, or granulated sugar for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
2. To make the dough, first combine currants with warm water in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until the currants are plumped. Drain well.
3. In the meantime, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and scatter over the dry ingredients. Turn on the mixer, and pulse until you have a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter visible.
5. Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and currants and mix on low speed or with a wooden spoon until the dough just holds together. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more buttermilk. You still want to see some of the butter pieces at this point, which will add to the flakiness of the scones once they are baked.
6. Dust a flat work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, press the dough into a rectangle about 45cm (18 inches) long by 12cm (5 inches) wide and 4cm (1 ½ inches) high. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles and transfer to the baking sheets.
8. Bake the scones for 25-35 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve warm.