Baking class: Say ‘I do’ to scones

In honor of the royal wedding, making scones at home is an easy and delicious activity.

scones_521 (photo credit: TOM WALLACE / MCT)
(photo credit: TOM WALLACE / MCT)
So your invitation to the royal wedding got lost in the mail, too? Don’t fret. Live coverage of the April 29 nuptials will keep you in the picture, which is a fine opportunity to settle in front of the telly with a basketful of freshly baked scones.
Traditional British cream scones come together in minutes. They bake in the time it will take an attendant to fasten all the buttons on Kate Middleton’s gown.
Scottish in origin, scones quickly caught on throughout the British Isles, and the subsequent Empire. Their delicate, not-too-sweet character welcomes the addition of dried fruit such as the traditional currants, but also raisins, dried cherries or even dried cranberries.
Successful scones are the essence of simplicity, relying on two important concepts: One, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to avoid any pockets of bitter baking powder once baked. And two, stir in the cream until everything is well-moistened, but don’t over-mix.
Because of their tendency to spread while baking, scones go into a hot 200º oven for a few minutes to set the dough, then finish baking in reduced heat until they’re just golden. With a pot of tea – or, let’s face it, coffee is acceptable too – you’ll be set from the arrival of the carriage to the waves from the balcony.
A final note: The word “scone” does not rhyme with “Sloane” (as in Ranger) but with “gone,” which is what these quick breads will be before you know it.
Makes 8
✔ 2 cups flour ✔ 3 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 2 tsp. baking powder ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt ✔ 1⁄2 cup currants (or other dried fruit) ✔ 11⁄3 cup cream (32%) ✔ Milk for brushing ✔ Sugar for decorating
Preheat oven to 200º and place rack in middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in currants until evenly distributed. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the cream. Stir until everything is moistened and a soft dough is formed.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead a few times, shaping it into a fat log about 20 cm. long. Cut in two, then gently shape each half into a smooth disk about 2.5 cm. thick. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut each disk into four pieces.
Arrange the 8 scones on the baking sheet, leaving as much room as possible between them. Brush with milk, then sprinkle with sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for 7 minutes, then reduce heat to 170º and bake 15 minutes longer. Let cool a bit on a wire rack, then serve.
Note: Scones without currants make a terrific base for strawberry shortcake. (MCT)