Buttermilk Scones

buttermilk scones

I find that the urge to bake sometimes strikes me at the strangest times. But some weekends, as soon as I wake up, I know I must get my hands into some flour and bake up something delicious. That was the case on Saturday morning, although a quick walk to the supermarket was needed before I could go any further. It was gorgeously sunny at the time, although within a few minutes of stepping in the front door again, the sky clouded over and it began to rain hard. I love rainy day baking.

The recipe I picked for March in the Tartine Cookbook Project I’m doing with Mark was the Buttermilk Scones, which make an absolutely perfect morning or afternoon snack with a steaming hot cup of tea. These are not the kind of scones I am used to making – usually they are made with whipped cream and a little milk instead of butter and buttermilk, but I loved these all the same.

They seemed more rustic and hearty than the light and dainty cream scones. Originally I was going to substitute dried cranberries for the black currants, but this time I decided to stay true to the recipe. There is no reason that you couldn’t substitute other dried fruit such as apricots, cherries or chopped dates and figs.

I used to be nervous about making scones, but I have learned that the less you work the dough, the more tender and delicious they will be. In this recipe, being able to see some of the butter pieces is important because they will make the scones nice and flaky. The scones are at their absolute best when still warm from the oven. Also, make sure you go and check out Mark’s post about the delicious looking Banana and Date Teacake!

Buttermilk Scones
Adapted From Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Makes 12 scones

• ½ cup black currants
• 4 ¾ cups plain flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
• 250g unsalted butter, very cold
• 1 ½ cups buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated

• About 3 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
• Raw sugar, or granulated sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
2. To make the dough, first combine currants with warm water in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until the currants are plumped. Drain well.
3. In the meantime, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and scatter over the dry ingredients. Turn on the mixer, and pulse until you have a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter visible.
5. Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and currants and mix on low speed or with a wooden spoon until the dough just holds together. 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.
6. Dust a flat work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, press the dough into a rectangle about 45cm (18 inches) long by 12cm (5 inches) wide and 4cm (1 ½ inches) high. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles and transfer to the baking sheets.
8. Bake the scones for 25-35 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

10 Comments on “Buttermilk Scones”

  1. LOL What was it about Saturday morning? I got up and decided that I couldn't possibly go through the day without baking some cheese & chive scones! Just call last Saturday Scone Day!

  2. I do that a lot on Sunday mornings, just have that urge to make something tasty with my morning latte.
    I adore scones and make buttermilk ones a lot, but I’ve never used currants. Yours look so good.
    A great tip I’ve learned over the years to make perfect scones is to grate the frozen butter with a cheese grater, put it in a bowl then back in the freezer until you’re ready to use. Wonderful!

  3. oh! scone triangles! so much easier than sitting there with floury hands and a round cutter.

    these look lovely and crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy inside.

  4. Delicious! I haven’t baked scones in awhile, but have been eyeing those recipes in Tartine. They look like the perfect rainy day treat 🙂

  5. Very well done, Lisa, and at least now I will always, always have the recipe wherever I may end up 😉 I’ve actually had a few scones during morning meetings here. They are good, but yours look fantastic!

  6. Arwen, it is definitely a fun project and I’m enjoying a lot so far. Can’t wait til next month!

    Lizzie, wow, you too? that is pretty freaky/awesome! Cheese and chive scones sound interesting!

    Dawn, freezing the butter would help a lot I think. I might try that next time!

    Y, absolutely, when eating still warm they are indeed a perfect rainy day treat!

    Shez, haha yes these were a fair bit easier than my other scone attempts!

    Mark, thank you. Your tea cake looks fantastic too, I’ll just have to come up with an excuse to try that recipe also 🙂

    FFichiban, haha those scone cravings are pesky

    Brilynn, let me know how you go with the recipe! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  7. The lightness of these scones is more attributable to the interaction of the buttermilk (an acid) and the baking soda (a base) and any time you mix acid and base you get carbon dioxide (CO2) which is a secondary rising agent in the batter.
    Buttermilk biscuits (as they are called in the south-eastern United States) are a staple and often a marker toward a “good” home cook.
    Without getting too technical the best biscuits/scones are made with lower gluten flours,
    White Lilly (protein/cup 9gm, gluten percentage approx. 8%) is the undisputed Queen of Southern baking flours.

    As a transplanted Aussie, originally from Melbourne but been here (Sth. California) over 30 years, it was good to stumble across your website, was looking for a good meat pie crust.
    I will try to post some Mexican recipes, if that’s O.K. with you, as Mexican cuisine that is not a chili, was one of the great discoveries of my travels here, and IS simple, delicious, light, healthy and quick.
    Perfectly suited for the Australian outdoor lifestyle; home from work and 30 minutes later you are are eating a tasty, healthy meal, perfect with a cold beer (is that available in Oz?)

    Also a section on making stocks would be nice (am happy to do this if you want), the basics are easy, freezable and add enormous flavor to any quick home cooked meal, a good stock in the freezer and you are only 30 mins. away from a great soup.
    That’s it, love your site, keep it up, healthy simple meals are within the reach of almost
    any person and budget.
    John the Chef (retired)

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