New Year’s Day Tea Part II: Classic English Currant Scones

Scones are both extremely easy to make and annoyingly difficult to make perfectly. That might also be because I have some sort of vague idea of what a scone is supposed to taste like that isn’t always so easy to pin down. I can’t really decide what the ‘right’ flavor should be– just that I’ll know it when I taste it.

The sweet, chunky ‘American’ scone is so different to the typical English scone, that my associations with English scones is so tied to trips to England and it can be hard to separate the overall feeling of being in England from the taste of the scones themselves. My mom is from England, but she never made scones when I was growing up and although my grandparents are English and now live there again, they were in Australia until I was in high school, so the Englishness of scones shouldn’t really have a nostalgic aspect to it. These scones are the ones that (so far) have tasted the most ‘right’ — which is the best endorsement I can give. That might also be because they were adapted from a recipe from the BBC. (Although now I’m having ideas of a scone tasting next time I’m in the UK).

There is no special magic or secret ingredient here. To me, the vanilla is the bit that really defines the flavor when combined with a slight acidity from the baking powder. It shouldn’t be sweet on its own, but need the cream and the jam to make it a perfect bite.

The recipe is listed as currant scones because I prefer to make them with currants! However, I couldn’t get any currants for this version (I didn’t realize I had run out until all the shops were closed for the holiday) so raisins made a decent substitute.

Classic English Currant Scones

12 oz. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp salt
5 tsp baking powder
3 oz. butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp sugar
6 fl. oz. milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze lemon juice
beaten egg, to glaze
2/3 cup dried currants (Raisins are an acceptable substitute if you can’t get currants)

  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Pour flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse in short bursts until the mix looks like fine crumbs.
  2. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Add the liquid to food processor slowly and pulse to combine. Tip the dough into a bowl. Add currants. Gently fold currants into dough, trying to get them evenly distributed. Flour counter and tip out the dough. Pat into a round about 2″ deep.
  4. Take a 2.5″ cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Cut out as many scones as you can from the first round, then gently knead together the extra pieces and pat into another 2″ deep round to cut out as many more scones as possible. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10-12 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I always find currants a bit gritty and chop up my raisins to make smaller pieces to get currant-size pieces. I have wondered about soaking my chopped raisins in lemon juice to get an extra ping of astringency here and there! Nice photos!!! Salivating….

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