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It is finally cold outside. The heat is on, the electric blanket out, and the oven warm. This weekend, my roommate and I took turns using our oven to bake various things, both savory and sweet. She made her first apple pie of the year, and I made my first fall scones. They also happened to be the most epic scones I’ve ever made. Who knew that cinnamon, homemade rye-rum vanilla, golden raisins, and black currents was such a winning combination? And believe me, it totally is.

Making such scones allows me to revel in one of my favorite cooking styles: English Fusion Cooking. Traditionally, English cooking is pretty simple. All the food groups are there and are usually covered with copious amounts of butter or brown sauce. Though simple, I love to take these recipes and lace them with elegant surprises–like white truffle oil in the mashed potato portion of a Shepherd’s pie made from lamb, Portobello mushrooms, and leek. Or, adding a dash of cinnamon and homemade vanilla extract to a solid scone recipe. It’s unpretentious food with quiet glimmers of sophistication and creativity. Food you cannot really know until you tasted it, spent an evening with it, with your dearest friends.

Golden Raisin and Black Currant Scones:

1 cup of bread flour

1 cup of oat flour

1/4 cup of sugar (or much less to taste)

3/4 teaspoon of salt

2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2-1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup of Golden Raisins

1/4 cup of Black Currants

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (I suggest you that make your own and use Angel’s Envy rye whiskey, which has been aged in rum casks, as the base for this extract)

2/3 cup of buttermilk, or plain yoghurt thinned to buttermilk consistency with filtered water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Sift together all dry ingredients and cinnamon in a large bowel (or just dump them into said bowl if you are feeling slightly lazy / simply haven’t the time). Cut butter into mixture with two knives, or a pastry cutter, until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in golden raisins and currants. Add egg, vanilla extract, and buttermilk to mixture. Stir until just mixed.

Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray and drop scone batter by the heaping tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, 2 inches apart, making 10 scones. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve with clotted cream, marmalade, butter, or your favorite jelly preserve.

Homemade Vanilla Extract:

1 cup of bourbon, rum, rye whisky aged in rum casks, or vodka

5-8 vanilla beans

Instructions:

Place alcohol in a clean glass jar with a cork. On a cutting board, split vanilla beans open lengthwise, exposing seeds, then add to the alcohol. Cork bottle and store in a cool dry place for three weeks, shaking it each week. For the most intense flavor, store the mixture for six months before using.

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