Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tea time

We took my mom (aka Granny Jan) to Greenfield Village yesterday for a birthday celebration afternoon tea at the Cotswold Cottage. You could not have asked for a more beautiful day--breezy, not too hot with big puff-ball clouds.

Tea was pretty good too with scones, jam, finger sandwiches, tea cookies and little pastries. And a big pot of tea for each of us (even the kids--they had an herbal berry tea and had fun putting lots of sugar cubes in with the little silver tongs). My only gripe is what they tried to pass off as Devonshire Cream--it tasted like Cream Cheese frosting, sweet and tangy. Real Devonshire clotted cream is a sticky, unsweetened ooze with soft-butter consistency. It has a fat content of about 55% and often is thick enough to stand a (small) spoon up in it. Normal (single) cream is about 35% fat, whipping (heavy) cream is about 45%. And it is expensive at about $5-6 for a 5 oz jar.

Some cheap tea shops in England advertise cream teas and serve them with unsweetened whipped cream which I'd say is a preferable second to this frosting stuff they gave us. Mind you, Ian loved the whole tea, cream cheese goo and all. And I was thrilled that he ate one and a half scones with goo and jam and didn't cast his usual suspicious gaze over the whole enterprise.

While Ian sampled Napoleon pastries...

Fiona filled her shoes with rocks....
Fiona does not have much of a sweet tooth though and after eating the egg and cucumber sandwich and taking one bite of a lemon tea cookie she lost interest and played with the pebbles on the ground around the table.

Granny Jan had a wonderful time, loved hanging out with the critters and wasn't bummed by the lack of real clotted cream. But I feel the need to provide an authentic cream tea for my British mum, so next week I'll track down some of the real stuff (Big 10 probably has it), make her some scones and serve them with gloppy strawberry preserves (Trader Joe's has a good version with big chunks of fruit), and a big pot of tea.

Here is my scone recipe, straight from my British mum:

English Scones

1 and 3/4 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter
1 C dried fruit (see *note for good combos below)
1/3 C milk
1 t fresh lemon or orange zest (microplane zested is best)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter then use your fingers to flatten the little bits into flakes--don't over do it--it should not look as fine as cornmeal or your scones will be heavy. Stir in dried fruit.

Combine milk and egg, add to flour mixture and fork stir. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 5 or 6 times, just 'till you get it to hold together. Pat into a circle about 1 to 1.5 inches thick and cut into 6 wedges (like a pie). Place wedges on a parchment or silicone-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The tops should be slightly golden.

Serve warm with jam and clotted cream or butter.

*a note on dried fruit:
Currants are the traditional dried fruit to put in scones, but you can be as creative as you like. Dice bigger stuff until it is about currant-sized.
Here are some of my favorite combos (all combine to 1 C total of dried fruit) :
diced dried pears with crystallized ginger
diced dried peaches and dried cranberries
chopped dried cherries (particularly good with orange zest)

I tried dried figs once and they were nasty...


Kimberly said...

mmmmm... scones... I will totally have to try that recipe! Thanks! :)


Anonymous said...

Made scones for Fathers Day. I happened to have fresh blueberries and used them. They were great. Thanks for the recipe.


Kate said...

Glad to hear it works with fresh fruit as well as dried! Despite years of making scones, I've never embarked on the fresh fruit experiment--now I'll have to get back to the kitchen and try it out!