When I was younger I used to make my home in Providence, Rhode Island.
I lived in a small, two bedroom walk-up apartment with various roomies on a street called Hope.
I used to be an artist model back in those days. It was one of my most favorite jobs I ever had and though I spent many an hour freezing what-my-momma-made-me off and developing the crackitiest, creakitiest of joints, spending my days as one was great.
I modeled at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and at the Providence Art Club as well. But my most favorite place to work was with a private painting group of mostly older ladies at Lippitt Farm, a sprawling private estate at the edge of country of Tony J’s, an amazing artist and RISD instructor who hosted them there.
I was Tony’s exclusive model for the group for over a year. Hours there were filled with classical music piped in from NPR, the sound of paint brushes brushing and Chopsley the English Bulldog snoring.
Conversations were lovely and easy and the studios were always light-filled and warm. No small thing for one spending most of their time in the buff.
I had very little money back then and no car, so I would have to catch the public bus to Cranston, where Aimee, Tony’s model coordinator, would pick me up and take me the last few miles to the farm.
My bus stop was on Wickenden Street directly across the street from The Coffee Exchange, a warm haven of roasting coffee and the best rosemary current scones on earth.
Teeth-chattering cold would be blowing down Wickenden and the temperatures well in the teens and I’d be there at the bus stop trying to balance a cup of coffee on one knee and peel layer upon flaky layer of scone on the other.
They were so the best that if you didn’t get there early enough, the scones would sell out. Once they were gone, that was it. It was do or done with those scones and they were worth every painful, cold-beaten finger.
I fantasized about those scones the second I finished one and have continued to fantasize about them ever since.
My days as an artist model eventually came to an end but my memories of that time have stayed warm in my heart, especially when it’s a little bit cold outside. I miss the conversations and the friendships of that special group above all, and being part of something greater than myself: being part of helping people become better artists, helping people express themselves through art.
These scones are my homage to that time and my desire to share with you their deliciousness. As currants are not as easy to find as raisins, and raisins close siblings, I chose to give them a whirl. I’m so glad I did.
These scones are extraordinary and I don’t even like raisins. But I love them in these. Especially when paired with pine-like and wintry, fresh rosemary.
I know, a weird-sounding combination, but oh-my-goodness delicious.
Not flaky like their predecessors, these are toothsome-ly tender and buttery. The tender part is the sour cream and cream of tartar having done their magic, and the buttery part? That’s the melted butter brushed on just before popping them in the oven.
Just sweet enough, they are so satisfying they ask to be eaten slowly while you’re busy wolfing them down and wondering why you’ve never had this combination scone before.
Tony J. and painting group ladies? These scones are for you.
Inspired by the amazing rosemary current scones at The Coffee Exchange, Providence, RI and Tony J’s painting group
Makes 8 large scones
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons raw sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup organic raisins (or currants, if you can find them)
3/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 cup organic sour cream
3 tablespoons organic whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Adjust oven rack to middle level and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl — using a fork or whisk — combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, raw sugar, sea salt, raisins and fresh rosemary together until well incorporated. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl — using a spoon — stir sour cream and milk together until well combined.
Using a rubber spatula, slowly add the sour cream/milk mixture to the flour mixture and fold gently until the mixture begins to hold together and feels tender.
Note: If dough at this stage still appears too dry — i.e. the dough pieces are dry and not coming together — slowly add a tablespoon of milk at a time, folding gently each time, adding only enough milk to make the dough hold together.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 30 times, sprinkling lightly with all-purpose flour if dough is too sticky or sticks to surface.
Gently pat dough out into a rough circle, roughly 1/2-inch thick and — using a very sharp knife — cut dough into 8 even wedges.
Place dough wedges onto your parchment paper-lined baking sheet roughly 2-inches apart and — using a pastry brush — gently brush tops with the melted butter.
Transfer baking sheet to middle of oven rack and bake scones for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown, making sure to turn baking sheet halfway through baking.
When scones are ready, remove baking sheet from oven and — using a spatula — transfer scones to wire cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
When ready to serve — using a serrated knife — split scones in half and serve with the very best of butters or preserve of choice.
Share and enjoy!