A Cream Tea

As a child, I hated Scones and I despised Rock Cakes. I wouldn’t touch milk in any form, other than on cereal. I couldn’t stomach Mince Pies at Christmas-time and refused to eat raw tomatoes and onions.
How times have changed. I still can’t stomach drinking milk and my stomach does flip-flops when I see Paul drinking a cold glassful with his peanut butter on toast. But, I now adore cheese and tomato sandwiches, I can just about manage raw red onion in a Greek salad and I made a large batch of Mincemeat last Christmas. I also have a newly discovered admiration for Cream Teas.
If you’re not English, I imagine that you would have read about Cream Teas in old fashioned books. A Victorian whimsy that involved wealthy ladies sitting around white filigree tables sipping Darjeeling Tea from Bone China teacups and eating dainty sandwiches. It’s a fact though that we no longer have time for Afternoon Tea, our modern lifestyles are so hectic that that the idea of brewing tea in a china teapot is almost inconceivable. And it seems that baking cakes at home is a dying art.
However, no matter how pushed you are for time during the week, you can always squeeze in 10 minutes on a Sunday Afternoon to make a batch of Scones, to be served with clotted cream and preserves. Scones really are one of the easiest baked products to make, just pour and stir, as easy as muffins and just as versatile. They are referred to as Quickbreads with good reason.
For example, cheese scones caused my reconsideration of the scone as something edible and enjoyable. Spread thickly with butter whilst hot from the oven, these crumbly textured biscuits are something special. A recipe that I am particularly fond of for savoury scones is from Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen book: Apple Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scones. The Buttermilk element (omitted from the British version) gives them a particularly tender texture and the flavour is bold and satisfying.
A sweetened scone mixture can be dropped on top of stewed fruit and baked to make a hearty fruit cobbler, and a plain scone mixture can be served Southern style with sausage and gravy.
My favourite way of having scones though is just spread thickly with a sticky crimson jam and primrose yellow clotted cream. They taste best in the Summertime, like ginger ale or freshly squeezed lemonade, taken outdoors and enjoyed, basking in the sunshine. Whilst this isn’t always the case, us stoic Brits find our sunshine where we can and if the sky is blue and the grass green, we’ll be outside making the most of it.
A recipe that I like to play around with is one from Sue Lawrence’s Book of Baking, which comes highly recommended. Her recipes are no-nonsense and are conveniently converted into cups for those days when I can’t be bothered to use the scales. Lawrence’s original recipe is for plain scones with just a little sugar but I enjoy the addition of Sultanas and some spices. Completely untraditional but delicious nonetheless. Other variations would be chocolate chips instead of sultanas, chopped apricots or dates or figs, cranberries, lemon or using cheese instead of the sugar, with some herbs or chives.
The basic scone recipe is as follows, and I have noted where I added my alterations should you wish to use/omit them.
SCONES – makes 6-8
225g Self Raising Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (note: If you are in the US are you cannot get hold of Self Raising flour, use 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder instead and half a teaspoon of salt)
2 Teaspoons Caster Sugar
70g Butter
150ml Milk (I used skimmed, you could use full fat or buttermilk instead)
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
½ Teaspoon Ground Ginger (optional)
½ Teaspoon Mixed Spice (optional)
Grind of Nutmeg (optional)
Demerara Sugar for Sprinkling (optional)
40g Golden or regular Sultanas (optional)
Milk for brushing (optional)
Preheat oven to 230c.
Sift the flour, spices (if using) and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the sugar and sultanas (if using).
Rub in the butter until it resembles fine oatmeal. The original recipe notes that the butter should be chilled and diced. My butter was so soft that it couldn’t be diced but I managed to rub this into the flour/sugar mixture without any undue side effects.
Make a well in the centre of mixture and pour in the milk. Using a knife, stir together until a thick dough that is not wet is achieved.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, flouring your own hands, pat down the dough until it is about an inch thick. Using a 3” cutter, cut out rounds and place on a lightly oil baking sheet. Keep bringing the dough into a ball and patting down again as you are left with edge bits of dough and you should manage to get between 6-8 scones from the mixture.
Brush the scones with a little of the milk and sprinkle of some Demarara Sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the tray round half way through, or until golden brown on top.
Leave until lukewarm then serve, split, with clotted cream and jam. Or, as my mum said, “these would be great, hot from the oven, spread with just butter”.


Lis said...

Your scones look so good, Freya, SO GOOD!! I love anything with raisins, so these are right up my alley. =) Beautiful job!

Ohh and uhmm.. well.. kay I've been lackin in my blog reading as of late (blame it on the sunshine!) but uhh.. I've been checkin' in periodically.. and uhhh... where's your interview??? hehehee! No.. I have not forgotten. :D


Lydia said...

The scones look beautiful! And I agree about the cream tea -- I could live without the cream part, but my husband loves that blob of clotted cream on just about anything. It's his English/Canadian heritage, I guess.

Ulrike said...

In Germany self-raising flour is also unusual.

I adore Scones with clotted cream and jam, especially with "Little Scarlet". And the Turkish Kaymak is a great substitute for clotted cream.

Karen said...

Mmmm...I think I need a spoonful of that clotted cream. Oh, wait, I'm not in England! How does creme fraiche compare?

wheresmymind said...

Holy catz that is a TON of cream!! YUM!

joey said...

Love your scones...and the dollop of cream! Yum! :) We do not practice afternoon tea where I live but I have a cousin who used to live in Hong Kong and everytime I'd visit we would do the whole afternoon tea bit...we loved it!

Margaret said...

I think great minds think alike at the moment Freya! They look yummy!

Cheryl said...

Scones with tons of cream!! You are my kinda woman.

mooncrazy said...

I adore the cream but I think I hear my arteries slamming closed with all the cream on that one, but oh, doesn't it look yummy.

Joyce said...

I still make time for tea, but then retirees get to do a lot of fine things that we couldn't do when we slaved for the man.
I love a dab of clotted cream with pure preserves. Adds that touch of authenticity to the ritual.
Great tips on the scones! But you never disappoint.

Tea Party Girl said...

Glad to see you enjoying cream teas! I personally enjoy afternoon tea as often as I can, even though I'm in my busy 30s. My blog explains how I manage it.

Little Foodie said...

Afternoon Tea, it should be made LAW. I used to work in an old fashioned tea rooms when I was at school. The smell and taste, Mmmmmm. Yours look great. The question is jam first or cream? Amanda

Callipygia said...

Of course I have had scones before without much fanfare, but it was only when I ate them with clotted cream and jam did I sit up and take notice. Yours looks properly slathered!

Kelly-Jane said...

They look lovely, and Sue's recipe is my staple now for sweet scones, mmmm!

ros said...

My ex is obsessed with afternoon tea. I've always put it down to the fact that he wa raised by his grandparents who were brought up having it every day.

When I visited him we'd always have proper tea (God, did he have a field day when we went to Sri Lanka on holiday- we came back with a kilo of top quality stuff) from a proper china teapot. He wasn't much of a baker, though so scones were bought from a rather good local bakery. I think, if I ever get around to baking anything, scones will be first on the list.

Peabody said...

Oh I love scones. But what is a rock cake?

Nora B. said...

There is always time for scones. Thanks for this recipe. I've been waitig for weeks for my sister to send me her Delia Smith's regular and wholemeal scones recipes. So your recipe cam at the right time. Thank you!

Barbara said...

Those look delicious! I'm adding them to my list of "Must make" recipes!

Quellia said...

Looks good but I must ask? What exactly is clotted cream?!?

Amy said...

Mmm these look delicious, especially with that generous amount of clotted cream and jam. Yum!

lululu said...

I'm not a milk gal neither. But scone with tons and tons of cream is absolutely my cup of tea. Yummmmmmm...

Susan said...

I'd heard that tea time and elevenses were pretty much relics of a slower-paced English lifestyle, and that is too bad. The idea of not making scones a priority....I mean, really! I adore scones.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I LOVE cream teas! One of the best souvenirs I have of England with my family...
Scones are so wonderful and with a dollop of (clotted) cream and strawberry jam, I'm in heaven!!!