19 February 2010

Tea and Scones

Tea and Scones - Classic Scones (with tips to make them the best you've ever made) / www.delightfulrepast.com

I read a great blog the other day, "Meal Malapropism," by The Ulterior Epicure. Apparently, when he sees the misuse of the word entree, he has the same nails-on-a-blackboard reaction that I have whenever someone refers to afternoon tea as high tea. I understand why it happens. High tea sounds ever so much more "haute" than afternoon tea. But it is actually just the informal main evening meal sometimes called a meat tea.

The stylish event is called afternoon tea. While I thoroughly enjoy every delightful repast of the day, none cheers me up quite so much as afternoon tea. As Henry James wrote in The Portrait of a Lady, "Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

But on this busy Monday there's no time for an afternoon tea, so I'll just bake some scones to have with my everyday tea in the afternoon or for elevenses (British English for midmorning tea break), which I usually have around ten since I start my day so early. For an afternoon tea, I serve clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry or strawberry jam with the scones. For everyday tea, though, I'll save the calories and have them plain. But can you really call that currant-filled, orange-scented, buttery goodness plain? 

Once in a while I might make a 2-inch (maximum) round scone, but nearly always I make the wedge-shaped scones because that is what my mother and grandmother did AND because it uses all the dough the first time around, so there are no scraps of dough that have to be worked together for a second cutting; those are never quite as pretty or tender as the first rounds cut. 

Update 12/07/16: For how to throw an afternoon tea party and a roundup of afternoon tea recipes, see Afternoon Tea Party Tips.

Update 08/02/18: For a tutorial, including step-by-step details and photos, see Classic Scones - Traditional Scones - A Tutorial.

Classic Scones

(Makes 16 scones)

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Zest of one orange
1/2 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) currants or other chopped dried fruit
2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml) buttermilk (or milk with 2 teaspoons cider vinegar stirred in and left standing for 5 minutes)
1 large egg*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. In medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in orange zest and dried fruit to coat and separate. Whisk together buttermilk, egg and vanilla; pour into dry mixture and gently mix until just combined.

*If you prefer to glaze the tops of your scones (I do not), beat the egg lightly and reserve one tablespoon to mix with a teaspoon of water to brush on tops only just before baking.

2 Line a large baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle lightly with flour. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment and gently pat the dough, dusting with flour as needed, into two 6-inch rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges. Pull the wedges out and space them an inch or two apart. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Now put on the kettle and make a proper cup of tea. Enjoy the delightful repast!


James Hickey Photography said...

This looks like the perfect treat to bring to an upcoming St. Patrick's day party. I'll have my chef whip up a test batch to be sure (we get more scones, not that we need to test them ;-0

Keep these tips coming. You can consider us a 'tester' household, kind of like Nielson for the kitchen.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, James. Let me know how you like them. I think the orange zest really "makes" them, and it goes will with dried cranberries as well as currants.

grandpamarmee said...

John and I love scones. Maybe a Saturday morning treat is in our future. These sound wonderful.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Hope you enjoy them. I always wonder whether people prefer round or wedge-shaped scones. I usually see round ones, but I make the wedge because that's how my grandmother made them and I like to carry on the tradition.

James Hickey Photography said...

Update. My chef, wife, Monika made these scones and they are just perfect. Jean, your right, the orange zest makes these taste 'sweet' without too much sugar. I felt these were some of the best scones I've ever had, light and fluffy - not those lead bricks made by some of the major bakeries.

Are these the same ones served at the hotel in Victoria, BC for their high tea? If not, they should be!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

James, I'm so glad you liked them. I'll be blogging about afternoon tea soon and including some of my tea sandwich recipes, so stay tuned! When you say "the hotel in Victoria, BC," you must be referring to The Empress. Aahhh, it's been too long ...

Wedding Wonders said...

Hi Jean.

I adore scones - they are one of my favourite foods - and yet I have never bothered to make them (probably because I'll eat the lot!)

I'm going to give these a try when I've converted the recipe to English (what is buttermilk? Is that the same as margarine)

My brides are always saying I'm worth my weight in gold so hopefully I'll put on weight and be worth even more!

Debbie x

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Hi Debbie--Thank you for the great question! I had not thought about there not being buttermilk in England. I must add that to my conversions page. A substitute would be: Put 2 measuring teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in measuring cup and add enough milk to make 2/3 cup; stir and let stand 5 minutes. OR to get a thick substitute (cultured buttermilk is rather thick), put 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice in measuring cup and add 1/3 cup plain unsweetened yogurt and enough milk to make 2/3 cup; stir and let stand 5 minutes. Do try it and let me know how it works. (Oh, and I too have a tendency to "eat the lot"!)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Note: I had a reader from the UK who was not familiar with buttermilk, so I checked with a cook there who told me it is readily available at Sainsburys and Waitrose, not by the milk but by the creams and creme fraiche.

Cristina - TeenieCakes said...

Hi Jean: Thank you for stopping by and your kind encouragement re my initial failed scones attempt...& the adorable quote by Julia Child! :)

I look forward to giving your recipe a try!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Cristina. And I know you won't have any problem making these!

Sirius73 said...

Now that I've mastered my first scone recipe I'm looking forward to trying out new versions. I'm sure these will be great.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you! And do try them with this strawberry jam, http://delightfulrepast.blogspot.com/2010/06/strawberry-freezer-jam-with-less-sugar.html.

Anonymous said...

This may be a strange question, but what is the best way to eat a scone when dining in public? The ones I have had have been so crumbly that I feel like I am making a huge mess of things, even though I am just breaking off small pieces.

Found your post on Anglotopia, love your post there and your blog. Thanks for sharing all these delicious recipes! - K

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Hello K, so glad you found by blog! A good scone can be eaten more easily--just break off a piece and spread on your cream and jam or curd. But there are so few *good* scones out there! When they are so crumbly that this doesn't work, just spread whatever you like on the whole scone and eat it with a fork. There's just no other way! Thank you so much for asking! Please look up my other tea posts on this blog.

Vic said...

A local bakery actually makes great scones. For my birthday I purchase clotted cream, fresh preserves, and scones, and indulge. There is nothing nicer on a winter's day.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Most bakeries around here must use shortening instead of butter because they taste awful! And they are very dry. AND they make them really big, and I like small ones (so I can eat a lot of them without feeling like they actually "count"!).

ZipZip said...

Good morning, Jean!
It's a golden morning here, and I've come to write down your scone recipe. I'm hosting a afternoon tea today for our tea society, and the zest of the orange suits the deep blue sky and the turning leaves to a "T".

Very best as always,

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Natalie! I'm so happy to hear this. I hoe your afternoon tea went beautifully!

Louca por porcelana said...

I am sure that your scones are delicious,but your teaset caught my eye!!!Gorgeous!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Maristella! I don't know the name of the pattern, but it is Royal Patrician bone china from England.

Sylvia said...

Jean, You make a good point about wedges that it leaves to left overs. I love the citrus in the scones and I will try the recipe of a party on Monday. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia D.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sylvia, thank you! Have fun at the party, and do let me know how they turn out for you!

Bernideen said...

Dear Jean:
Reshares sure do work and give us another opportunity to learn! Thanks and have a great day!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Bernideen. And Happy December!