By Barbara Beltrami
Our British legacy, along with our language and customs, includes scones. At lunch the other day my friends and I ordered scones for dessert and I was reminded of just how good they can be with clotted cream and raspberry jam or even with butter or olive oil, if they’re savory rather than sweet. With our pinkies well extended we sipped tea and got caught up on each other’s lives and felt very civilized. Always the purist, I ordered the traditional scone with raisins. My more adventurous companions opted for the less conventional versions, and we all had a wonderful tea party.
YIELD: Makes 12 scones
2¾ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 ounces cold unsalted butter
1½ cups dried currants
2 large eggs
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup light cream
2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a large bowl thoroughly combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. With a pastry blender or fork, mash in the butter until mixture has a lumpy-crumbly texture; stir in currants. In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs, vanilla and cream; then stir into the dry mixture until thoroughly combined.
Sprinkle a little flour over an ungreased baking sheet. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a 6-inch round disc that is about ¾ inch high. Brush each disc with a teaspoon of milk, then sprinkle with the two tablespoons granulated sugar.
Carefully and gently cut each disc into 6 wedges and pull the wedges away from the center so that they are barely separated, not touching. Place, uncovered, in freezer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. Bake scones until golden brown and cooked through with no wet spots showing, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes on baking sheet. Serve warm with clotted cream, butter, jam or all of the above.
For other sweet scone variations substitute one of the following for the currants:
Raisins, chopped dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, mini chocolate chips, chopped pecans or walnuts or 1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
For savory scones, omit the vanilla extract and final 2 tablespoons sugar, reduce the 1/3 cup sugar to 2 tablespoons and add one of the following:
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, ¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried, 1½ cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed) or 2 tablespoons freshly ground coarse black pepper. Serve with butter or extra virgin olive oil.
YIELD: Makes 1 cup
1 cup pasteurized but not ultra -pasteurized heavy cream
1 cup pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized light cream
Line a medium fine mesh strainer with a paper towel; place over a small-medium bowl. Leaving an inch at the top, pour in cream. Refrigerate for 2 hours. The liquid (whey) will drip through and leave a ring of clotted cream around top; with a rubber spatula, scrape this down.
Repeat procedure until a cup or so of clotted cream is left. Discard liquid. Serve clotted cream with warm scones and raspberry jam.