buttermilk scones

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Having a great, seemingly perfect recipe for something isn’t enough to stop me from trying new recipes. There’s always something to learn, you know? Even though one of the first biscotti recipes I ever made is still the best, I’ve made many many more recipes and I’ve learned some little biscotti tricks along the way. But I still haven’t found a better biscotti recipe.

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The cranberry scones were one of the first scone recipes I ever made, and certainly the first to knock my socks off. Of course, cranberries aren’t in season year-round anyway, but I successfully adapted the recipe for rhubarb, and I’m sure I could have used most other fruits.

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But instead, I kept trying new recipes, including this one. And this time…well, I won’t say this recipe is better, but it is definitely as good. Aargh, don’t tell me I need to do a scone comparison!

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I suppose it’s okay to have two perfect scone recipes, right? And one probably isn’t better than the other anyway. One thing I’ve found from recipe comparisons is that once you have great dependable recipes, it all comes down to personal preference.

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Well, my personal preference is for whatever gets me a delicious treat on a Saturday morning. This certainly qualifies. And so does this.

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One year ago: Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

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Buttermilk Scones (adapted just slightly from Tartine, by Elisabeth Pruett and Chad Robertson)

The measurements are weird because this is half of the recipe in Tartine’s cookbook. But geez, who needs 5 cups of flour worth of scones? I’ve also made them slightly smaller – 8 scones for this half-recipe instead of 6, because 6 would have been huge. (Each scone would have 3 tablespoons of butter in it!)

Zante currants are just standard dried currants.

I skip the melted butter and just use milk on top of the unbaked scones.

6 tablespoons zante currants (1.75 ounces) or 3 ounces fresh berries
2¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter, very cold
¾ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
large crystal sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. To make the dough, first combine the currants with warm water to cover in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until the currants are plumped. Drain well. If you’re using berries instead of currants, put them in the freezer.

3. While the currants are plumping (or the berries are freezing), whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl if making by hand, or into the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and stir to mix with a rubber spatula. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and scatter the cubes over the dry ingredients. If you are using a mixer, pulse on and off so that you don’t break down the butter too much. You want to end up with a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter visible.

4. Add the buttermilk all at once along with the lemon zest and currants. (If you’re using berries, don’t add them yet.) Mix gently with a rubber spatula by hand or on low speed if using the mixer. Add the berries and continue to mix just until you have a dough that holds together. Be careful not to mash the berries into the dough, or you will color it with their juice. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more buttermilk. You still want to see some of the butter pieces at this point, which will add to the flakiness of the scones once they are baked.

5. Dust your work surface with flour, and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 9 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1½ inches thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet.

6. Bake the scones until the tops are lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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  1. Beautiful. These look delicous. I am having my first try at homemade scones tomorrow (cheddar scones to enjoy with soup)…wish me luck!

  2. These look amazing! I love scones but have only made them once. My coworkers would flip over these!

  3. Mmmmm buttermilk scones…delicious 🙂

  4. Yes, it’s ok to have multiple recipes of the same stuff. Especially if it looks as great as this. 🙂

  5. Audrey says:

    thank you for all these scones…I’m looking forward to trying all of them. (Beautiful photos, too.)

  6. These sound delicious. I don’t usually keep buttermilk on hand, but I do have Greek yogurt. Do you think it would be appropriate to thin the yogurt with some milk and use that instead?

  7. bridget says:

    Emily – That would definitely work!

  8. Doris says:

    These scones look delicious and I’m hoping to make them tomorrow. I have a question about the oven temperature – I assume the temperature is supposed to be 400 degrees in Fahrenheit, not Celsius?

  9. bridget says:

    Doris – Yes, sorry about that. I use Celsius at work, so I’m more used to typing it. I’ll fix it.