1¹/³ c. dried currants (soaked overnight in 2 tbsp. apricot brandy)
4 c. flour
²/³ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
12 tbsp. unsalted chilled butter (cut into small pieces)
1 c. buttermilk (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tbsp. vanilla
sparkling sugar for scone tops
One day before baking, place dried currants in glass canning jar. Add apricot brandy, seal jar, and allow to steep overnight at room temperature, turning the jar occasionally to distribute the brandy.
When ready to bake, spray 2 scone pans with baking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees. (A scone pan has 8 wells arranged in a circle and is available at kitchen stores such as Sparrow Hawk or Williams-Sonoma.)
Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until small crumbs form and there are pea-sized bits of butter. Remove mix from food processor and place in a large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl and add all at once to dry ingredients. Mix together, but before dry ingredients are fully moistened, add currants and any brandy liquid. Mix lightly. One or two tablespoons of additional buttermilk may be added if dough is too crumbly and doesn't stick together. Be careful not to over-mix dough.
Divide dough into scone pans. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown. Remove scones from pan after 10 minutes. Serve with strawberry jam and our version of house cream — whip equal parts heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until thick. Makes 16 scones.
I've always enjoyed the comfort provided by sharing afternoon tea with a friend: Delicious hot-from-the-oven scones, a reviving pot of tea and good conversation brighten any day. Warm scones with thick cream and sweet jam are among my favorite tea treats, especially when accompanied by my favorite tea, Da Hong Pao Oolong or Royal Golden Yunnan from China. This recipe's unusual step of soaking the dried fruit in liqueur softens the fruit and adds a unique flavor; substitute dried cranberries soaked in Triple Sec, or dried cherries in cherry brandy for other enjoyable variations.
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