Molly Wizenberg to Martha Stewart to Better Homes and Gardens. They've been too soft, too hard, too sweet, not sweet enough, and never ever flaky enough. But here it is, from the Tartine Bakery cookbook I just bought, my scone recipe.
With two sticks plus a tablespoon of butter blended (by hand--and this may be the key), I just knew I could get the flakiness I wanted. The outer edges of the currant scones caramelized to a crusty golden brown while the inside is soft like a buttermilk biscuit. Biting into them after 35 minutes in the oven at 400 wasn't the hallelujah moment I expected to have once I accomplished what feels like the goal of this blog. I tore off a piece, popped it into my mouth, and thought, "Yeah, this is it. I think this is the one." Like the rocky turning of winter to spring, or the slow realization of sweet, simple love: Yes, this is right. Yesterday was the pits, but today I can make scones and spring will come.
My sister and I were sitting at the bar of Senor Matias earlier this week, before the weather changed from 4 degrees to 54. We were both sipping on margaritas counting our woos on both hands, both of us down in the dumps. I kept saying, between bouts of lying my head on the bar, "It's going to get better once it's spring. The sun is going to come out and the snow will melt and it will be better." All said more as a reassurance to us both than in a real sense of hope. I swear that everyone I know is just aching for the long days of summer. I can think of so many people emerging slowly and limping from the great cloud that is winter in a temperate climate zone. It's so funny to talk of the weather, but do you realize what an impact the environment has on people? Of course we all talk about it. I'll celebrate 54 degrees on a Saturday in Feburary with scones, perhaps I'll commemorate 68 degrees coming up this Thursday (!) with a cake.
Tartine Bakery yields 12
3/4 cup zante currants
4 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup and 1 tablespoon cold butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
top with melted butter and large-grain sugar crystals
Preheat oven to 400. Soak the currants in hot water for 10 minutes to plump up. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine. Cut the cold butter into cubes. Cut butter into the flour with your hands. Before my baking basics class, I used a pastry blender, but my teacher says she likes to get in and touch everything she bakes. I love the philosophy. Get to know it by feeling it, sort of thing. It works well in this case. Blend the butter into the flour until the mixtures forms pea-size crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk, lemon zest and currants. Stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Add more buttermilk if the mixture is too dry, which mine was but that's probably because it's winter and there's no moisture in the air. Once the dough has come together, turn out on a heavily floured work surface. Form into a log that is 18-inches by five- and is two inches thick. Cut out scones with a chef's knife. Arrange on baking sheet. Brush scones with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I actually ended up needing to bake it for 35 minutes. But bake until the top is nice and golden brown.