Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! I'm not Irish and I don't usually make a big deal over the holiday, but I saw this recipe for Irish Soda Scones and thought, "Blarney, this looks fun!" And it was! These are slightly dense with a wonderfully bumpy, chewy exterior, a not too sweet doughy center and full of tangy currants and raisins. Absolutely delicious on their own or with a little butter and jam. And they are totally easy to make!
I've never been to Ireland but really do hope to go one day. When my sister was doing a semester abroad in Copenhagen, we visited her and she took us to this little bakery that served the most amazing scones--we often made major detours in our sightseeing to go back to that bakery and pick up a few to carry with us! Since then I've been hooked on scones but am usually disappointed in them--the ones you buy from bakeries are too often dry, stale, tasteless hunks of dough. Not so with these and they come together in under an hour!
You start by working softened butter into a mixture of flour, cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt, until the whole thing resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Then you add buttermilk, egg, raisins, currants and caraway seeds if you like (I didn't) and mix until the dough comes together. Next you turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead briefly. The recipe calls for making 8 balls of dough, leaving you with round scones, but most recipes for scones have you shaping them into triangles, so I went with that technique instead.
Then it's jut a matter of baking them for about 20-25 minutes, brushing them with a little melted butter when they're finished baking and waiting for them to cool enough so that you don't burn your mouth!!
A cup or tea, a pot of jam and a warm Irish soda scone--whether you're Irish or not you're going to love it! Happy St Patrick's Day!!
Irish Soda Scones
Makes 8 large scones
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup raisins (I used yellow)
1/2 cup currants (you could omit these and just increase the raisins to 1 cup)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional--I didn't use them)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for brushing on scones after baking)
1. Position oven rack into middle of oven and preheat to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Whisk together both flours, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your own fingers, work the butter into the mixture until it becomes a coarse meal.
3. Add in the buttermilk, the egg, raisins, currants and caraway seeds if using, stirring with a fork until dough just begins to come together. Flour a board or your counter, turn the dough out onto it and knead it gently until the dough sticks together but don't overdo it. You want the dough to still be bumpy or you'll wind up with tough heavy scones.
4. Using a knife or metal dough scraper, cut the dough in half, then into quarters and then into eighths, which will leave you with 8 triangles. Transfer to the lined baking sheet, spacing them a couple of inches apart and score each scone on top, making a cross, to allow steam to escape as they bake. Bake for 20-25 minutes (original recipe calls for 15-20 but mine weren't done at that point-check yours early--all ovens differ). When scones are golden brown on top and a butter knife comes out clean after it's slid into the center of one of the scones, remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops with the melted butter. Allow to cool to room temperature (if you have the patience!!) Serve as is or with butter and jam.
5. Scones are best on the day they're made but taste quite good heated up on the 2nd and even 3rd day. Store them airtight at room temperature so that they don't dry out.
Note: Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker. I swapped out half the raisins for currants and cut them into 8 triangles instead of making balls of dough. http://www.browneyedbaker.com/irish-soda-bread-scones/