Here's the thing with me and scones: as much as I like them, too often they've been relied on as culinary gasoline- something gobbled in the morning for a stolen attempt at breakfast. If they've been dry and flavorless- with a uniform texture resulting from too many rounds in a commercial mixing bowl- it was hardly noticed; all I required was they line my stomach against dark coffee and an early commute.
While I'm still not much of a "breakfast person", I can happily state that these days I enjoy delicious, well-made scones. To my taste, the best are like good biscuits: flakey and high-shouldered, with craggy tops and a tender interior. Lightly sweetened, they should taste of butter and crunch slightly when bitten.
And although these scones don't require additonal butter (oh alright, if you must), this is the time to bring on the marmalade!
Currant Scones adapted from Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cooks Illustrated magazine
Please, please, please handle this dough as little as possible- the best scones are made with the lightest touch!
2 c AP flour
1 tbl baking powder
3 tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbl cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
grated zest from one lemon
1/2 c currant, plumped for 10 minutes in very hot water, drained and blotted dry
1 cup cold heavy cream
additional heavy cream and sugar, for glazing
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Place cubed butter in the freezer until ready to use
In a large bowl, mix together flour, b.powder, sugar, and salt.
Add the cold butter and lemon zest and- working quickly- cut in butter as you would for a pie crust: with two knives, a pastry cutter, or your finger tips (best for those with cold hands!).
When the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger lumps of butter, add the currants and toss lightly to combine.
Add the heavy cream and lightly toss the mixture with your hands, letting it fall between your fingers until the dough just begins to form.
Transfer to the counter top and lightly knead the mixture only until it is just combined.
Pat out dough into an 8" circle and, using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut into 8-10 wedges of equal size (if dough has become too soft to achieve a nice, clean cut, refrigerate for a few minutes before proceeding; the cleaner the cut, the higher your sides will be). Separate wedges and place onto an ungreased baking sheet (double-pan the baking sheets so the scone bottoms don't over-brown).
Brush the tops and sides of the scones with heavy cream, sprinkle lightly with sugar (white or brown), and bake for until lightly browned (12-15 minutes).