Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orange and Black Currant Scones

My mother and I started a tradition on the first anniversary of my grandmother's passing.  We decided that everyone in our family, wherever we may be, should have a cup of tea on behalf of Nanny (that's what we call her) every year on January 5.   She loved her nice cups of tea, often to the tune of about four cups a day.  Some of us take the tradition a little farther and go for afternoon tea, which she also loved - my husband and I have been known to race to a local English tea room after we got off work on a January 5, when they were due to close in about 10 minutes.

This year I decided to make scones to have with some tea at home.  I took a recipe for scones and made it even more English, if that's possible, by adding black currants.  Black currants are a severely underrated fruit in the United States.  I don't know why little kids in the U.S. aren't plied with them from an early age.  In England they flavor all sorts of candies, jams, drinks, desserts, and other baked goods.  Black currant has been one of my favorite flavors for as long as I can remember.  And as an added bonus, they are loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants.

In these scones I used dried black currant berries.  These are not to be confused with plain old Zante currants, which are small hard little black things, more like mini raisins.  These are juicy little berries with a rich sweet-tart flavor.  If you have a hard time finding them, you could substitute raisins, dried or fresh blueberries, dried cranberries, or whatever you like.  If you can find them, though, I highly recommend the black currants.  They set these scones over the edge, and even the orange zest alone gets these scones pretty close to that edge.  I'm pretty sure Nanny would have loved them.

Orange and Black Currant Scones
adapted from Gourmet Today
makes 8


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose is okay)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 cup dried black currant berries
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, separated
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.  Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375.

2.  In food processor, pulse together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse pebbly sand.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in currants.

3.  Stir together milk, cream, yolk, zest, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add to flour mixture, stirring just until a cohesive dough starts to form.  Do not overmix.

4.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until it just comes together.  It will be sticky, so prepare to get your hands dirty.  Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet and pat gently into a 7 inch round.

5.  Lightly beat egg white and brush onto the top of the scones.  Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of sugar.  Cut into eighths, but do not separate.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown all over.  Let cool 15 minutes before separating.  Serve warm.

Enjoy.  Love, Sparkle


  1. Wonderful - your nanny would be so proud of her Sparkle.

  2. Lovely story--and you're right; it's odd that currants aren't common in the US.

    I'm trying this recipe today. Thank you!