Let me preface this post by saying that I have nothing whatsoever against Ireland, the Irish people, or anything related to either. I myself am an entire eighth Irish, after all. (Can I get a Guinness with that?) But I just don’t understand the widespread appeal of St. Patrick’s Day. Despite its name, this is really a day about a country, not a fifth-century saint. And what other nation is afforded the honour of having its culture celebrated the world over, with festivals and parades and general drunken merriment? To be perfectly honest, it just doesn’t seem fair.
Be that as it may, I’m a sucker for a gimmicky blog post. I awoke this morning knowing that if I was going to cook anything today, it was going to be at least vaguely Irish. I’ve been wanting to bake Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake for years, but such a lavish treat for a solitary Wednesday afternoon seems a little sad, frankly. I eventually settled on a respectable breakfast bread, buttermilk-rich and currant-studded.
A mash-up of my sister’s buttermilk biscuits and these Irish scones, my “Biscones” are a little reminiscent of my Spotted Dog bread, but only in the most rudimentary way. A touch sweeter and with a far lighter texture, these free-form treats would be perfect for breakfast, or with tea.
If you celebrate, a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you. My advice? Lay off the green beer and have one of these instead.
Buttermilk and Currant Biscones
- 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 30g caster sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 85g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 60g currants
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line the bottom of a nonstick 8″ pan with parchment and set aside.
- Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work into the flour mixture until everything resembles coarse meal. You want some larger pieces of butter (about the size of a large pea) remaining.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl and add to the flour. Mix with a fork or dough whisk until uniform, and finally, mix in the currants. This will be a very wet dough but try not to overwork it.
- Using a spoon, break off a piece of dough the size of a small fist (roughly 1/6th of the total amount). With generously floured hands, form it into a ball and place in the prepared baking pan. Continue until the pan is full of floured dough balls, nestled closely together.
- Bake bicones for 25-30 minutes until golden brown; they will expand to fill any gaps between them. Allow cooling before pulling apart and serving with some good butter.