With origins in Scotland, scones got their start as humble griddle cakes (by some accounts, they get their name from the Gaelic sgonn, or “shapeless mass”) made from barley meal, oats and/or flour. While they’ve maintained their slightly rough-hewn texture in the intervening years, the addition of rich ingredients (butter, cream) and the ready availability of baking soda have lifted scones from homely peasant grub into the more genteel realms of afternoon tea, where they’re served on dainty china with clotted cream and jam.
It’s likely you won’t want any accompaniment at all for these flaky, crumbly beauties, which are golden-rich with butter (your house will smell fantastic while they’re baking) and dotted with sweet currants. Whisper-sweet (a far cry from those frosted coffee shop behemoths), they make a cozy and quick breakfast with a cup of strong coffee or tea. You can also double the recipe if you’re entertaining with a weekend brunch or (literally) buttering up your coworkers at an early breakfast meeting.
adapted from the Commonsense Kitchen by Tom Hudgens, 2011;
makes eight large scones
- 2 C all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/3 C brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 C rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus 1/4 C more for cutting/shaping
- 1/2 C currants
- 3/4 C salted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very cold and cut into cubes
- 1/2 C buttermilk, plus more if needed
Preheat the oven to 425. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and 3/4 cup of the rolled oats together in a medium bowl. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry ingredients, lightly smearing the cubes with your hands. Mix until it becomes a bit moist, and the visible bits of butter are about the size of peas. (Those bits of butter will turn to steam in the oven, and the steam will create flakes.) Stir in the currants. Pour the buttermilk over top, and toss together with a fork, pulling the dry bits up into the buttermilk until just combined. (Add a bit more buttermilk if the mixture still seems very dry, up to a tablespoon.)
Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of oats on your worksurface. Gently gather the dough and pat into 2 equal-sized disks, about 1″ thick. With a sharp knife, cut each disk into 4 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet (about 1″ apart) and bake on your oven’s middle rack until rich golden brown, 12-15 minutes.
Let the scones rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature with jam, if desired.
Note: if you’re looking for a use for leftover buttermilk, I highly recommend making a batch of this buttermilk dressing.