I’m a regular reader of the New York Times, and that includes reading the Dining section every week. When I come across recipes I like online, including those in the Times, I log the links into an ongoing list. I will refer back to that list and pull from it once I’m ready to execute something. I realize this approach is kind old-fashioned–I do use Pinterest for other purposes as well–but old habits die hard. This has been working fine. And now my blog serves as a way to organize the recipes that I have tried and like!
My saved recipe list has been populated with several New York Times web addresses lately, and I noticed that many of them are comfort food. There’s the meat and potato gratin, the oatmeal sandwich cookies, the biscuits, and the polenta with sausage. Don’t these all sound good? Perhaps everyone has given up on the idea of spring ever arriving and decided to settle into a semi-permanent hibernation.
The first of these recipes I have gotten around to making is the Orange Currant Scones recipe. I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to enjoy cluttering my home with lots of “stuff.” Except, when it comes to kitchen gear, I’m always tempted. I gush over the King Arthur Flour, Chefs, and Williams Sonoma catalogs like the average man does over Victoria’s Secret. I haven’t felt the need to pull the trigger on a scone pan, and apparently I was making the right decision–this recent article assured me “nothing besides tradition calls for round biscuits or wedge-shaped scones.” It explains that you want to minimize the dough’s absorption of flour, and additional rolling, like when you gather up scraps after using a round biscuit cutter, causes the flour’s gluten to activate more and makes the biscuits or scones tougher. Pushing the dough into wedge spaces in a pan doesn’t allow for the flakiest layers. Instead, cutting the dough sharply in whatever shape you want helps the sides rise up.
I was excited to snag blood oranges at my latest visit to Wegman’s. My plan was to make a salad with blood orange segments. Around the same time, I read this recipe. Since segmenting oranges for a salad leaves the rind available, I first zested the outer peel and reserved the zest for my scone recipe. Like the “Nose to Tail” Whole Animal Movement, why don’t we start a “Peel to Flesh” Whole Fruit Movement! One can go so far as to reserve all the rind/peel and candy it following a recipe like this. Though with much of the zest removed, I wonder if it would be overly bitter. I’ll try next time and let you know!
Best sure to thoroughly wash the outside of citrus fruits you are zesting, since pesticides and other residue can cling to the peel. Ideally the fruit is organic for these purposes. You don’t want waxy coatings.
Orange Currant Scones
From the New York Times online
3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
Grated zest of 1 orange or tangerine
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Cup heavy cream
2-3 Tablespoons water or milk, if needed
1 Cup dried fruit chunks – currants, cranberries, raisins etc.
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1.5 teaspoons water)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your sheet pan with a nonstick lining like parchment paper or a Silpat.
Toss dry ingredients and zest together in a large bowl.
If your butter has started to soften as you cubed it, return to refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to firm it up again.
This is the hard/annoying part (maybe because I also refuse to buy a pastry cutter): rub butter into the flour mixture together using a pastry cutter or your fingers until butter pieces are the size of peas and covered with flour.
Prepare your floured cutting board and measure your fruit now, because things are about to get messy.
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in egg and cream.
Mix ingredients together by hand until a shaggy dough is formed.
Here’s where you might face a problem, like I did. My mix was more shag and less dough. It is very possible that my “large” egg was smaller than other “large” eggs that went into more successfully executed doughs. Or the flour measurements weren’t perfect. If your dough will not stay together, add a little water until it will stay in one piece. Note that it is OK for it to be somewhat dry/floury otherwise; this isn’t a cookie or pizza dough. But take notice early on of excessive dryness so you don’t over-blend the dough, as warned above. I went a little overboard, because I was convinced there was some way it would eventually come together, since I followed the recipe exactly. As a result, my scones didn’t come out as flaky as they should.
On a floured surface, knead the fruit into the dough gently, just until incorporated. Pat into a rectangle about 3/4-1 inch thick.
Don’t judge: these currants might be from last St. Patrick’s Day (when one usually makes another scone-like treat in the form of Irish Soda Bread) so they sorely needed to be used up. I didn’t have quite enough, so cranberries filled in for the rest.
Using long, sharp cuts, separate the dough into 8 or 12 smaller rectangles. Move to baking sheet.
Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar.
At this point, you could pause the recipe by placing the pan in the freezer, which I did. Giving the worked dough a rest is actually suggested on the scones recipe entry on King Arthur Flour’s website. I was fortunate to find this information after I had already made the dough, because I ran out of time to bake them and, in my ignorance, was concerned it might actually be harmful to freeze them before baking. The “tips for bakers” section here is very helpful to read before making scones. If I hadn’t been so hasty and did more general research, I would have learned that flour dries out in dry weather like this winter, which explains the need for more liquid.
From frozen, bake for about 25 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, until light golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Freeze any that aren’t going to be consumed within a day so they stay somewhat fresh.