Currant Fruit Buns and John Brock’s life long piggy bank

Currant fruit buns: an old fashioned scone that's mildly sweet and flakey.
Currant fruit buns: an old fashioned scone that’s mildly sweet and flakey.

The recipe came from Gourmet Magazine sometime around 1976. It caught mom’s eye because she was hosting an English-style tea for some elderly neighbours and little currant buns fit the theme. That was the year we moved into the neighbourhood, into what was known as The Brock House.

The eve before we moved into the house, John Brock, who had been born in the house and was by that time in his fifties, took my brother Timothy and I down to the basement, to the room under what had once been his bedroom.  The basement room was small and very dark with a low ceiling and a large bin that had been used to store wood and coal. There, fastened to the ceiling against a joist, just under the floorboards of the small bedroom above, was a wooden box the size of a brick. John pried it from the ceiling and shone a flashlight on it for us to see. It was brimming with old coins.

When John was a child he secretly cut a slit in the floor along the baseboard of the little bedroom, just large enough to fit a coin through and he fastened the box to the underside of the floorboards below. It was like a lifelong piggy bank that had never been cracked open.

Currant fruit buns: an old fashioned scone that's mildly sweet and flakey.
He gave Timothy and I each a handful of coins, said his farewell to the house that had been his family’s for more than half a century, and left us with the cheery ghost of his mother, known affectionately as Booboo.
I was 23 when mom and dad sold that house. After 15 beautiful family years in the house it was hard for all of us (mom, dad, my six siblings and I) to say farewell to the home we had all loved so dearly. But we kids were all grown and it was just mom and dad rambling around in a home that had so comfortably housed a family of nine. 
It’s lovely to have so many recipes that remind me of times around the table in that cosy home.

Currant Fruit Buns

  • 4 cups whole white flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup currants
  • ½ cup mixed candied peel or chopped candied ginger
  • 1 egg, beaten, plus enough milk to make ½ cup
  • ½ cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until pea sized.
  2. Stir in sugar, currants and mixed peel or ginger. Make a well in the centre of dry mixture and pour in egg-milk mixture and water.
  3. Stir gently until almost combined. (Dough will feel a little stiff).
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough comes together.  Roll out dough ½ to ¾ inch thick and cut into shapes. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes.

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