Irish Soda Scones

These delicious scones are perfect for breakfast.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 15 breakfast-sized scones.
Author: The Bojon Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 1 cup currants, raisins, golden raisins, (or a combination)
  • 2-4 tablespoons whiskey, (Irish, or whatever you've got)
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off, cooled and coarsely broken up or chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole spelt (or whole wheat pastry) flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, (I used light, but dark would work if that's what you have)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces cold, unsalted butter, in 1/4" dice, (1 1/2 sticks, 12 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 large, cold eggs
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk, with the slight chance of needing a bit extra (see headnote)

Instructions

  • Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place the currants in a small bowl and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of the whiskey. Let sit, tossing occasionally, while you get on with the rest of the recipe, adding more whiskey if the currants drink it up.
  • In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in the bowl of a food processor) combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the butter and rub with you fingers or a pastry blender (or mix on low or pulse) until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with some pea-sized butter bits remaining. (The more butter bits you have, the more craggy and flaky the scones will be; the more homogeneous the mixture, the more refined the scones will look and feel. I like them somewhere in the middle.)
  • Drain the currants of any excess whiskey, and stir into the butter/flour mixture along with the walnuts and caraway seed. (If you used a food processor, dump the mixture out into a large bowl first. If you used a stand mixer, you can either dump the mixture into a large bowl, or proceed in the mixer.) Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and drizzle over the flour mixture, stirring and working with a wooden spoon just until the mixture clumps together and no floury bits remain. The dough should be fairly stiff and dry, and at some point, you may decide that your hands are the best tool to use for this. If you still have floury bits left at the bottom of the bowl, drizzle a little more buttermilk right onto the floury bits to moisten everything evenly.
  • Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted very lightly with flour and use lightly floured hands to pat into an even round that is 1" tall (hint: the center will want to be taller than the sides, so pat this down extra). Use a 2 1/2" round pastry cutter (fluted or not) or a glass to cut out circles close together. You may need to dip the tip of the cutter in a bit of flour if it sticks. Place the rounds on the parchmented pans, spacing them 3" apart. When you've cut out as many rounds as possible, gently squish the scraps together, pat out into another circle, and repeat. Keep doing this until you've used up all the dough, trying to work it as little as possible.
  • Bake the scones, rotating front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking, until golden on the tops and bottoms and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (If the bottoms of the scones on the lower rack are over-browning, place a second baking pan underneath them.) Remove the pans from the oven and let the scones cool on the pans.
  • Serve the scones warm from the oven, or re-heated in a 350º oven or toaster oven for five minutes or so. Store extras in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or double-bagged in the freezer for a month or so.

Notes

Adapted from Once Upon a Tart.
The dough for these scones is on the dry side, thus they hold a nice, straight-sided shaped when baked, like traditional English scones. The trick to flaky, delicate scones is similar to that of pie dough: work quickly as soon as the butter is out of the fridge, keep the butter and the other ingredients cold, and work the dough as little as possible.
These scones are not overly sweet, and they make a nice foil for some clotted cream or crème fraîche and a drizzle of honey, jam or marmalade.
I realize that there are caraway haters out there, and if you are one of them, I won't judge you too much if you decide to omit the seeds; the scones will still be hearty and full-flavored. But know that the small quantity imparts a subtle taste that most people won't readily recognize (and one that I happen to adore).
Though the original recipe calls for buttermilk, I used 1/2 cup of heavy cream that had just begun to turn sour mixed with 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Scones can be made with whole milk, half and half, plain yogurt, crème fraîche, or any combination thereof, so feel free to experiment based on what you have handy. The richer the dairy, the more moist and tender your scones will be, though the amount it takes to moisten the dough may vary.
This makes a rather large batch of scones, so feel free to halve the recipe. Do bear in mind that the scones not only make excellent gifts for a neighbor or yoga teacher, but they also keep well, sealed, at room temperature for several days, or double-bagged and frozen for a month or so; re-heat in a 350º oven until warmed through for freshly-baked flavor.
Nutritional values are based on one of fifteen scones.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 261mg | Potassium: 265mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 6.8% | Vitamin C: 1% | Calcium: 8.4% | Iron: 13.2%
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