Tartine’s Currant Scones & Lemon Cream

Tartine's Currant Scones

I’m preparing for Thanksgiving and for my sole visitor, my father, who loves a proper English scone. Unfortunately, these currant scones, I am fairly certain are not proper by any British standards, and I’m fairly certain that serving them with lemon cream is not proper either. What I am certain about, however, is that after one bite, my father will tell me that what I have created is not in fact a proper British scon. And then he’ll proceed to devour two or three, slathering each with lemon cream, uttering mumbles of approval all along the way. I can’t wait.

I’m sorry to bore you with a recipe I’ve posted about before, but when I find a recipe I like, I tend to stick with it. Tartine’s buttermilk scone recipe is the one I use year-round, studded with berries in the summer and currants in the winter. The recipe yields a huge batch, too, which is nice when planning for visitors, so I froze eight unbaked scones for Thanksgiving morning.

With scone dough stashed away, I thought it would be fun to have some of Tartine’s lemon cream on hand, too, a recipe I overlooked in the cookbook but have had bookmarked since seeing it on Food52 a few months ago. The cream is as luscious as promised, and I cannot wait to serve it, though I suspect my father is going to ask if I’ve got any clotted cream around. Also, just a note: these scones certainly don’t need anything as spectacular as homemade lemon cream — they honestly don’t even need a dab of butter — but if you’re feeling the gilding-the-lily spirit that is the holiday season, then go for it.

Incidentally, I have been watching Call the Midwife — amazing! — and have been craving proper English scons since hearing the midwives giggle about them in the last episode. I might have to give a proper recipe a try — these look promising. British Readers, thank you for alerting my attention to CTM. It is as wonderful as you said. Just when I thought I couldn’t love a character more than DCS Foyle, Chummy walked into my life.

Tartine's lemon cream

Tartine's currant scone ingredients

scone rounds, ready to be cut

cutting the scones

unbaked scones

unbaked scone

Tartine's currant scones, just-baked

Lemon cream ingredients:
Tartine's lemon cream ingredients

blender in action

Tartine’s Buttermilk Scones with Currants

Source: Tartine
Yield = 12 to 16 scones, depending how you cut them

3/4 cup (3.5oz/100g) Zante currants

4 3/4 cups (24oz/680g) of flour
1 tablespoon (15ml) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (3.75ml) baking soda
1/2 cup (3.5oz/100g) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon (6.25ml) salt (I use table salt)
1 teaspoon (5ml) grated lemon zest
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (9oz/255g) cold, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (12oz/375ml) buttermilk

3 tablespoons (45ml) melted butter
sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter a baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper). 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. (I drain them and then wrap them in paper towels to soak up excess moisture.)

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add sugar, salt and lemon zest and stir to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and scatter the cubes over the dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender or the back of a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. When you are finished, the butter should be dispersed throughout the flour in pea-sized lumps (or bigger… mine always are).

3. Add the buttermilk all at once along with the currants and mix gently with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together. If the mixture seems dry, add a little bit more buttermilk. (I added 6 more tablespoons of buttermilk.)

4. Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into two even portions. Using your hands, pat each portion into a circular disk about 1 1/2 inches thick. (Or, if you want to follow Tartine’s instructions, pat the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches thick). Brush the top with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar. Using a biscuit cutter or any round cutter, cut each disk into 8 circles, gathering the scraps together to shape the final circle. (I forgot to butter and sprinkle with sugar until after I cut up the disks. Also, obviously, you can cut the disk into triangles, which is easier. I just love the circular shape.)

5. Transfer the triangles to baking sheet. Bake until the tops of the scones are lightly browned, about 25 to 35 minutes. (Mine were done at 20 minutes.) Remove from the oven, let cool briefly, then serve with butter, lemon cream, clotted cream, jam or nothing at all.

Tartine’s Lemon Cream
Source: Tartine
Yield = 2.5 cups

Notes: Definitely check out the Food52 website for a beautiful slideshow that documents the process. Making lemon cream from scratch is really fun. Truthfully, I do not think the scones need any lemon cream at all, but it is kind of fun to have on hand. I also think I could have gotten away with adding less butter. I don’t even care about things like this, but it tasted so good when I tasted it after half of the butter was added that I thought about stopping then. It’s your call. UPDATE: Made this with one stick of butter — tasted great to me. Also, the lemon cream can be used as a filling for tarts and trifles and mixed with whipped cream to spread over layer cakes. I’m still unsure of what I’m going to do with the bulk of mine.

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5oz/155ml) lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (6oz/170g) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup (8oz/225g) unsalted butter, cool (Note: you can use half of the amount of butter — I’ve been making this with 1/2 cup of butter, and it is delicious.)

1. Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

2. Combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, not touching, the water. (Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular.) Place the bowl over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180° F on a thermometer. This will take 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: I do not have a trusty thermometer, but found that the mixture started to thicken up after about 6 minutes, and I continued to whisk for a total of about 9 minutes.)

3. Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool to 140° F, stirring from time to time to release the heat. (Again, I do not have a thermometer, but just used my judgement — I let it cool for about 15 minutes.)

4. Meanwhile, cut butter into 1-tablespoon (15-ml) pieces. When the cream is ready, leave it in the bowl if using an immersion blender (I tried this…not so easy…so I switched to the blender), or pour it into a countertop blender. With the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece. The cream will be pale yellow and opaque and quite thick.

5. You can use the cream immediately, or pour it into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To use after refrigeration, if necessary, gently heat in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water until it has softened, whisking constantly.

Final note: I don’t see why the butter couldn’t be at room temperature? It’s just a thought that I might act on next time around. I used to make a recipe very similar to this one, and it called for whisking in room temperature butter after the thickened egg yolk-lemon-sugar mixture had cooled briefly. It worked beautifully.

blender with lemon cream


    • says

      Marcy! Oh my goodness, I don’t know how to thank you for sending along this link! I searched and searched and could not find this for the life of me. I am going to print this immediately. Thank you thank you. I hope I get around to making it soon.

  1. says

    These are some truly beautiful scones! I so enjoyed my visits to Tartine and will have to surprise my boyfriend some time with these scones. Thanks! I mean, cheers!

  2. Joleen says

    Me again, what is the difference between lemon cream and lemon curd? Ingredients seem the same. Also, I would love to share my grandmothers recipe for currant tarts with you. In our family, they are gold! I rarely make them because they are labor intensive to me. It’s the crust. Maybe you could make them and see what you think? I think you have my email now… Send me a note if you’re at all curious.

    • says

      Joleen — hi! Good question. Honestly, I think they are basically the same thing. I have a recipe for lemon curd that I used for a long time (haven’t made it in ages) and it is nearly identical but calls for yolks only. Would you please share your family recipe? That would be so special. Would you mind sharing it in the comments section here? So that others might take a stab at it, too? Let me know, otherwise, I will send you an email. Thanks so much, Joleen!

  3. says

    Your scones are just luscious! And the lemon cream is so very tempting! My mother detested raisins and always used currants instead. Your recipe touched memories buried deeply underneath the patina of many years! Food memories can be so vivid!

  4. Byrdhouse says

    I made blueberry scones and your delicious lemon cream for our Easter breakfast this morning, to the raves of my teenagers. I’ve made lemon curd in the past, but think lemon cream will be our new favorite. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Your photographs are beautiful too.

    • says

      Byrdhouse — so happy to hear this! I don’t think it gets much better than a scone for breakfast for me. I love Tartine’s recipe. Such a good one. And that lemon cream makes everything taste good — I’ve only actually had it with the currant scones, but I bet it tastes even better with the blueberry ones. So happy blueberry season has arrived and that your teenagers approved of the recipes. Hope you had a Happy Easter! Thank you for your nice comment.

  5. clare says

    For that extra ‘English’ feel, soak plump sultanas in Earl Grey (I used 3 bags in a tea cup) and a dash of lemon oil before adding to the mix.

  6. Alex says

    I made these today and they were delicious–thanks Alexandra!

    Thought you might like to know that the lemon cream turned out beautifully with half the amount of butter (just in case you happen to have not made this for two years!). It seemed like a waste (of ingredients, of an opportunity to add flavour) to not include the zest of the lemons that were juiced for this–so I did, by rubbing the zest into the sugar before I added the eggs. I then strained the mixture before putting it in the blender. Finally, I would consider dialling back the sugar a touch next time, but that’s just a taste thing. Honestly, it’s just such a beautiful cream: light and silky but also rich and indulgent.

    As for the scones: admittedly, I didn’t have as much success in the rise as I have had in the past with scones, however they were delicious–neither too light and insubstantial, nor too dense and cakey. I love currants so upped the volume to 1 cup and was not sorry, I didn’t have enough buttermilk so topped it up with a bit of soured cream and whole milk. The only change I would make next time would be to reduce the bicarbonate of soda to 1/2 tsp as I could slightly taste it… but it was not enough to ruin the scone, thankfully!

    Fresh raspberries rounded off our traditional (well, as you said, kinda…) English tea very nicely indeed! :)

  7. says

    I just made these using dried blueberries. “Just” as in, they’re cooling on my dining room table right now. But I already ate one. Because I couldn’t help it. So good! Thank you for consistently sharing such beautiful flavors.

  8. marce says

    Delicious! I like my scones crunchy on the outside but soft and flaky inside and this recipe is by far the best I’ve tried.
    Can I make the dough ahead and refrigerate it? If so, how many days ahead?
    Thanks again, really enjoy your website & recipes :-)

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