March calls for a traditional scone recipe, bedecked as is Irish tradition, with dried currants, or sprinkled with fragrant cinnamon sugar. This recipe celebrates both preparations. Add more currants, if you want all of the dough speckled with the dried fruit, or none at all if that is your penchant. Simply brush with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar for a plain but delightful treat, or cover all of the wedges with a coating of sweet cinnamon sugar.
The key to successful scones is to use very cold (nearly frozen) unsalted butter, cold cream and buttermilk, and to work quickly when bringing the dough together and cutting it on your work surface. This is a fairly damp dough, so don’t be afraid to use flour liberally to assist you.
These scones are satisfyingly, but not too, sweet and rise beautifully thanks to the generous amount of baking powder. Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon treat, they are sure to bring a little brightness to the cold, gray days of March.
Makes about 24
½ cup currants (optional)
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled in the freezer until firm and cut into about ½-inch pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled, plus more for brushing
½ cup buttermilk, chilled
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
Cinnamon sugar (prepared with raw sugar and ground cinnamon)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the racks in the middle and upper third of the oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
If using the currants, put them in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for several minutes, drain, and set aside to cool completely.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and pulse several times. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. While continuing to pulse, drizzle in the cream and buttermilk, processing just until the dough comes together.
Scrape half of the dough onto a well-floured work surface and, working quickly, incorporate the cooled currants. Shape into a disc, about ¾ inch high, and cut into 12 wedges. Arrange on 1 of the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart, brush with cream, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Shaping the remaining dough in the same manner, arrange the wedges on the second baking sheet, brush with cream, and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
Bake the scones for about 8 minutes. Shift the positions of the baking sheets and bake until the scones have risen, are fragrant, and are golden brown, about 8 minutes more.
Set the scones aside on wire racks to cool on the baking sheets for about 3 minutes before transferring them to the racks cool for several more minutes or completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.