Rich and buttery scones celebrate being Irish

Sarah E. Crowder/Associated Press Moist, biscuit-like Irish scones topped with smoked salmon is a delicious way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Sarah E. Crowder/Associated Press
Moist, biscuit-like Irish scones topped with smoked salmon is a delicious way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Is it not enjoyable to take advantage of another culture’s holiday to explore new recipes and treat yourself to something delicious? It is.

And is St. Patrick’s Day not right around the corner? As the Irish might say, ’tis.

Moist, biscuit-y Irish scones, lashed with rich butter and a few slices of smoked salmon, top my list of Irish culinary yearnings this March 17.

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European-style butter makes a big difference in this dish; it has a slightly higher butterfat content than everyday supermarket butter. If you’re sticking close to the theme, look for good Irish butter.

As with biscuits or any quick bread, the less you handle the dough the better. Over-mixing or kneading will activate proteins in the flour, making the resulting baked goods a bit tough. The dough might seem a little sticky; that’s fine, just work quickly and nimbly, and make sure the work surface is well dusted with flour.

These scones are not too sweet, as their intended filling is smoked, salty fish, but if you want scones to slather with butter and jam, you might add another tablespoon or two of sugar.

IRISH SCONES WITH SMOKED SALMON

Makes about 10 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for patting out the dough

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

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1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup milk, preferably whole

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

About 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter for serving

½ pound good-quality smoked salmon

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with no piece of butter larger than a pea. In a small bowl, combine the milk and the egg yolk. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients just until the mixture comes together.

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Turn the dough onto the floured work surface, and roll or pat it out to 1¼-inch thick. Cut out 2½-inch circles with a biscuit cutter, as close as possible to one another. Gently pat together the scraps so they are 1¼-inch thick, and cut out another two or three circles as possible.

Place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top of each scone with the egg mixture.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until barely warm, or at room temperature.

Split them in half with a fork, or cut them with a sharp knife, spread the butter evenly between the scones, layer some salmon onto each bottom half, and place the scone tops over the salmon.

PER SERVING: 373 calories; 163 calories from fat; 18 g fat (10 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 114 mg cholesterol; 389 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 19 g protein.

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