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Monday, March 23, 2015

Fresh From the Oven

I am a lover of all things baked.  I am particularly fond of breakfast pastries, but let's be honest, muffins, scones, and coffeecakes are generally not the most virtuous way to start out the day.  In fact, usually I try to maintain my careful eating until at least mid-afternoon.  No sense in starting out in the hole.  That's what I always say.  Better to dig the hole around 4:00 p.m.
I was out of currants so I used gold raisins.
Add the cold butter and then the liquids.
Finish off with an egg yolk wash and a sprinkle of turbaned sugar, and then into the oven.
But if there's one thing I can't pass up, it's a fresh from the oven scone.  I am greatly aided by the fact that I live in a city with a paucity of bakeries, at least bakeries worth frequenting.  Things are getting a little better with a couple of new ones opening recently but generally, if I want something baked, I bake it myself.

This brings me to today's recipe for Flour Bakery's Classic Currant Scones.  My friend Mona reminded me of these when we were catching up the other day.  Flour Bakery is the most divine bakery ever.  If you're in Boston anytime soon, you really must stop in to sample some of Joanne Chang's goodies.

These scones are light, airy, rich, and so easy to make.  The key to success is to keep all of the ingredients as cold as possible.   Make sure to cut up your butter and combine the egg, buttermilk, and creme fraiche and then return everything to the refrigerator until the moment you're ready to add each one to the flour mixture.

You can prep these scones and then refrigerate them unbaked until you're ready to bake them off just before serving.  Preheat the oven and then pop the tray into the oven directly from the refrigerator.  The heat from the oven and the cold butter in the scones will cause steam which, in turn, will make the lightest scones ever.

Recipe:  Flour Bakery's Classic Currant Scones
Makes 8 scones

Note:  I actually cut the scones and baked them off that way instead of scoring the dough and cutting afterwards.  They bake much faster, which is key when you're really in the mood for a scone.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Extra Note:  I was out of currants so I used golden raisins.


2 3/4 cups (385 grams) unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (80 grams) dried currants
1/2 cup (1 stick, 114 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold crème fraîche
1 cold egg
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar


Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and currants on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter
is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, crème fraîche, and whole egg until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. There will still be a little loose flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl, so that it starts to pick up the loose flour at the bottom. Turn over the dough several times until all of the loose flour is mixed in.

Dump the dough onto a baking sheet and pat it into an 8-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Brush the egg yolk evenly over the entire top of the dough circle. Sprinkle the sanding sugar evenly over the top, then cut the circle into 8 wedges, as if cutting a pizza. (At this point, the unbaked scones can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. Proceed as directed, baking directly from the freezer and adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the entire circle is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then cut into the prescored wedges (the cuts will be visible but will have baked together) and serve.

The scones taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300-degree-F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300-degree-F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

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