Aug 13

Fresh currant-gooseberry scones

Fresh currant, gooseberry and lemon scones!

When I brought these scones into work, I told the rest of the Web Team to guess what flavor they were.

They were pretty much stumped: “Raspberry?” “Pomegranate?” “Papaya?” “Haggis?”

They guessed every flavor under the sun except, of course, for the flavors that the scones actually contained: currant and gooseberry.

I know, I know — not exactly a fair question. I mean, currants aren’t incredibly popular here in the States. And gooseberries? Who eats gooseberries? So I knew they wouldn’t be able to guess correctly. Which is why I asked. Because I’m annoying like that.

You’re probably wondering what in the world I was doing with fresh currants and gooseberries in my kitchen. Well, Vons for some reason was selling both of them in their berry section the other day. I’d never seen either of them before — and actually, I wasn’t aware that gooseberries existed in real life — so I bought them, figuring it’d be fun to find a recipe for them.

Turns out there aren’t a whole lot of recipes out there that call for gooseberries. I did find a few for something called gooseberry fool, but I could just imagine the jokes it’d inspire, so I decided against it.

I saw plenty of recipes for currant scones, though. I love scones! So I decided to make that and just throw in the gooseberries, for kicks.

What I didn’t realize is that currants and gooseberries aren’t very sweet. In fact, they’re actually pretty tart. They’re definitely not the kind of berry I’d want to eat out of hand. I know this because I did, and then regretted it.

So, to fix that, I modified a step from that gooseberry fool recipe, and cooked them with a lot of sugar to sweeten them up. I also used the syrup strained from the cooked berries to make a confectioners’ sugar glaze, which I drizzled over the baked scones.

The scones turned out sweet, but not cloyingly so. In fact, they were actually really good. But I love scones, so I’m a little biased.

If you’re thinking about making these, and currants and gooseberries are strange and unfamiliar to you, I feel like I should offer you some caveats. I mean, it’s a really tasty scone recipe, but …

  • Picking the currants off their stems sucks. They’re tiny, and easily squished, and numerous. I’m getting bored just thinking about it.
  • Gooseberries are hairy, and that’s kind of weird. Also, you have to pluck the tops AND bottoms off each one. Which, thinking about it, might be even more tedious than dealing with those currants.
  • Both berries have a lot of little seeds, which might get stuck in your teeth. It wasn’t super annoying to me, but I know a lot of people can’t stand seeds in their foods.

I actually think the tastiness of the scone had less to do with the currants and gooseberries and more to do with the fact that scones are just inherently tasty. You could probably put absolutely anything into these scones and they’d be delicious. (Well, except maybe haggis.)

But if you’re just looking for a tasty way to use your currants and gooseberries, and don’t mind the labor-intensive berry preparation, go for it.

Currants! Getting them off the stems is kind of a pain.Gooseberries! These little guys are furry. Which is weird.I plucked all the currants from their stems, then sliced the tops and bottoms off the gooseberries and halved them. This took forever.
Here are the currants and gooseberries cooking in a whole bunch of sugar.Take 'em off the heat when the sugar has dissolved, and they're all saucy-looking.Stirring the currants and gooseberries into the dry ingredients.
Balls of scone dough coated with raw sugar.Yummy freshly baked scone!Pink glaze!

Recipe: Fresh currant, gooseberry and lemon scones

Adapted from Gourmet, April 1996, via Epicurious.com

  • 1 cup fresh currants
  • ½ cup gooseberries
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup granulated raw sugar (turbinado or Demerara)
  • glaze, recipe below

For the glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅓ to ½ cup reserved currant-gooseberry syrup
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the berries: Pick the currants off the stems, and pluck or slice the little stem-like things off the top and bottom of the gooseberries. Cut the larger gooseberries in half.
  3. Place the currants and gooseberries in a saucepan with ½ cup of granulated sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and smashing the berries a little bit, until the sugar dissolves. It should only take a couple of minutes. Pour berry mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to strain out the syrup. Set the mashed berries aside, and save the syrup for the glaze.
  4. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together the dry ingredients — flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt — and then add the bits o’ butter and lemon zest. Beat at medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Beat in the mashed currant-gooseberry mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Add that to the flour mixture, and beat just until a dough forms.
  6. Scoop out ½-cup balls of dough and place them about 1 inch apart on your baking sheets. About 6 dough balls should fit on each sheet. Sprinkle each hunk of dough with raw sugar, and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill before putting them in the oven.
  7. Bake the scones until they’re light brown, about 20 minutes.
  8. To make the glaze, put the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl, and whisk in the reserved currant-gooseberry syrup (you may need more or less depending on how syrupy your syrup is) and the lemon juice. Stir until smooth, and drizzle over the scones while they’re still warm, just before serving.

Fresh currant, gooseberry and lemon scones!

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