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Irish Soda Bread Scones

When you name a recipe “Irish Soda Bread Scones,”

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you want to be able to stand behind the name. And I do…figuratively. Full disclosure, I didn’t use baking soda in these scones. And they aren’t bread, because, well, they’re scones. They’re inspired by my fave-o-rite Irish Soda Bread recipe that isn’t made like traditional Irish Soda Bread; it’s more like a tea cake…which is probably why…

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I love, love, love Irish Soda Bread. The recipe I use is so full of flavor. It scoffs at dryness, it’s a little sweet and it is absolute heaven when you slice it thick, toast it and slather it with some butter. (It’s so easy to make…you’ve got to try it!) The recipe I make has raisins and caraway seeds and I love that flavor so much that I kept baking the bread until my family yielded and decided that they loved those flavors too. I make it throughout the year and even used it as a base to create my Shortcut Stollen. That’s another winner. Sooo good!

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This year I wanted to take those flavors that I love in Irish Soda Bread and create a scone. One of the things that I think makes the bread so delicious is the use of sour cream. So, while I normally go with heavy cream in many of my scone recipes like My Favorite Cinnamon Scones, Fresh Strawberry Cream Scones and Brown Sugar Butter Pecan Scones, I wanted to develop this one with sour cream.

Sour cream has less fat than heavy cream, so I knew these would be a little “lighter” than some of my other scone recipes. I considered adding more butter to keep the fat ratio, but decided I wanted a different texture this time and I really wanted to see how the sour cream would work out first. I did use a full fat sour cream, because I didn’t want to lose too much richness.

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Scones are not difficult to make. Mix your dry ingredients, cut in your butter, then add your wet ingredients. For this recipe, I added the raisins and caraway seeds before I added my wet ingredients. The raisins get coated with flour, so they don’t sink, and I think they are more evenly incorporated into the mixture that way.

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There’s something I want to tell you that’s true for all of my scone recipes, at least the ones I’ve published to date. When you add your wet ingredients, you are going to think that you need to add more liquid. It’s going to be shaggy and you’ll have flour and dry bits on the bottom of your bowl. You’re going to think my recipe is wrong and how could this mixture possibly come together? Resist the temptation to add more liquid. Once you stir it up and it’s mostly together, get your clean hands in the bowl and gently work the dough. You want to do it with a light hand. I gently squeeze handfuls of the dough, pressing and flipping, picking up all the dry bits until it all comes together. You should still have visible bits of butter throughout your mixture and you shouldn’t have squeezed your dough so much that it looks like a chunk of playdough. As long as you didn’t over measure your flour and you don’t live in a climate that affects your baking process, then trust me that there’s enough butter, sour cream and egg to bring that mixture together.

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Then form your scones in whatever shape suits you. I made squares this time and decided to cut that recognizable “x” in the top. But feel free to cut triangles, or cut out circles. I don’t usually cut them into any shape that leaves scraps because the second rolling of the scraps is never as good as the first. (That’s also why my Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits are always cut into squares.)

I brushed the tops with sour cream and sprinkled a few with raw sugar just to see which way I would like them best. The extra sugar on top was good (it always is) but they  really didn’t need it. I thought they were just perfect plain.

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The scones baked up beautifully and the flavor was spot on. We loved them. They were very reminiscent of our favorite Irish Soda Bread, but now adapted as a wonderful scone. But, just to make sure I had my ratios as good as could be, I tried a second batch with a little more sour cream. I know some of you are going to be tempted, but don’t do it. They were not as good as the first batch. The texture was off; the additional moisture took away from the flaky tenderness from the butter and they didn’t rise as high.

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Irish Soda Bread Scones. Not traditional. No soda. No bread. Those words are there to engage you in the idea of Irish Soda Bread, there to conjour up flavor memories. They have all the great things in them that I love about the bread…except that they’re scones…(swoon)

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I know. Enough said. #youhadmeathello

 

Irish Soda Bread Scones

Servings 9 large scones

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup full fat sour cream
  • extra sour cream for brushing
  • raw sugar for sprinkling optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, two knives or you can rub the butter in with your fingertips, until the mixture is crumbly and you have varied size butter chunks no larger than peas.
  4. Add caraway seeds and raisins and lightly toss until raisins are coated in flour mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg together until well blended.
  6. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in the egg/sour cream mixture. Toss gently with a fork until you've distributed the wet ingredients well and mixture begins to hold together a bit. Your mixture is going to seem to be too dry, but try to resist adding more liquid. (See note.)
  7. Use your hands to gently mix/lightly knead the mixture in the bowl until it comes together.
  8. Once the dough comes together with no crumbs, on a lightly floured surface, pat it into a large square 1 inch thick. Mine was a little over 6" square.
  9. Using a floured knife, cut into nine squares. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes or until butter is nice and firm.
  10. Remove from freezer and place scones about 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut an "x" into the center of each scone. Brush tops of unbaked scones with additional sour cream. Sprinkle with raw sugar, if desired.
  12. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden. Do not over bake or you'll risk drying out the scones. Allow to cool and set up for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then serve warm or remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Recipe Notes

*I usually put a sheet or two of waxed paper down on the counter, lightly sprinkle some flour on it and pat my scone dough on that. It makes for easy clean up. Once I've cut the scones, I can also just wrap them in the waxed paper and put them in the freezer.

*Please resist the temptation to add more liquid of any kind. I tried adding an additional 1/4 cup of sour cream and I didn't like the texture. It kind of got gummy. Just gently work the dough in the bowl and it will come together for you.

*Be careful not to over measure your flour. I use the spoon and sweep method. First I stir the flour to lighten it up, then spoon it into my measuring cup and sweep across the top with a knife to level it. This insures you don't pack it in the cup. No shaking it to level it, no pushing it down with your spoon.

*These are best on the first day, but leftovers come back to life nicely when warmed up in a toaster oven for about 3 minutes. I do like these best warm, so I even warmed them up on day one, since they were completely cool by the time we ate them.

*Because the sour cream is thick, when you brush the tops of the scones, it will leave brush marks that you might see after baking. This did not bother me. If it bothers you, thin the sour cream with a little milk so that it's just loose enough to brush with no evidence of the brush stroke.

*If you're against raisins and caraway seeds, and you've decided to omit them, you certainly can make these scones plain. However, I might recommend you try one of my other scone recipes where butter and cream, and often vanilla, bring extra flavor and richness to a plain scone. You could use the scone dough from my Jammy Thumbprint Scone Bites and just cut them into triangles instead of rolling and filling them.

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