Recipes from The Prodigal Tourist: And Is There Scones Still For Tea?

SconesTray1S

Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of articles featuring classic British recipes. Perfect for the Anglophiles out there who like to cook. Also, check out the author’s The Prodigal Tourist blog here.

A gentle nod to Grantchester and Rupert Brooke, but when it comes to England and afternoon tea, the answer is, most decidedly, yes—scones, it is! But there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat these delicious confections. The first time I watched my American wife, Frances, slice through a scone, a knowing smile spread upon my lips. Imagine my horror when she reached for the butter! No, no, I said, somewhat aghast, never put butter on a scone! There is such a thing as afternoon tea etiquette. I then explained to her how to eat this luscious treat.

One needs a freshly baked scone and strawberry jam, homemade or the best quality you can find. And clotted cream, of course, ideally from Devonshire. First divide you scone as you would a so-called “English” muffin, then coat the bottom half of the scone with an ample amount of preserve. At this point, you dollop a goodly portion of clotted cream atop the jam. Then rebuild your scone and tuck in. So there it is. Simple. No butter. Just the jam then the cream You can of course, use, raspberry jam but that’s pushing it a bit. Strawberry jam is the preserve of choice. Try it and you’ll see why!
Now you know how to eat scones, try baking some!

This is Frances’ recipe and very good it is, too! Her scones have an achingly soft yet firm top, beneath which is a light buttery interior where plump raisins hold sway. With each bite this tiny concoction tumbles apart with into a soft, sweet, slightly chewy morsel and the world is a decidedly better place for it. But enough rhapsodizing! Let’s get started.

You’ll need 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsps. baking powder, about a 1/4 cup sugar and 6 Tbsps. of very cold, unsalted butter. If using raisins, you’ll need approximately 1/2-3/4 cup (the more the better, I say). Also you’ll need 1 cup milk.

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut butter into mixture with pastry cutter or 2 knives until butter is reduced to pea-sized crumbs. Add raisins, pour in milk and stir quickly to make a firm dough. Don’t overmix–no need to get rid of every flour speck and, in fact, the buttery bits make the scones even flakier. Roll out dough on floured surface or between plastic wrap sheets until 3/4″-1″ thick; cut into 2″ rounds with cookie cutters and place and parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush lightly with milk and bake in preheated 400 F (200 C) oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly but serve warm. Makes about 16.

Now a word about Devonshire clotted cream. You can buy jars of this wonderful stuff in some Anglophilic supermarkets here in the States, but it costs a pretty penny. So I suggest you try this. Whip up some heavy cream with a little plain yogurt and some sugar to taste, then dollop the mixture into muslin or into a paper coffee filter and drain over a bowl in the fridge as though you were making Greek-style yogurt. The mixture should  drain for at least a couple of hours. Better to leave it four or five hours. Now rewhisk. You should end up with a luscious, rich cream that has the density and viscosity of genuine Devonshire clotted cream. Mind you, if you have no cream in the fridge, then by all means spread unsalted butter upon your scone. Just don’t tell anyone I told you to!

A gentle nod to Grantchester and Rupert Brooke, but when it comes to England and afternoon tea, the answer is, most decidedly, yes—scones, it is! But there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat these delicious confections. The first time I watched my American wife, Frances, slice through a scone, a knowing smile spread upon my lips. Imagine my horror when she reached for the butter! No, no, I said, somewhat aghast, never put butter on a scone! There is such a thing as afternoon tea etiquette. I then explained to her how to eat this luscious treat.

One needs a freshly baked scone and strawberry jam, homemade or the best quality you can find. And clotted cream, of course, ideally from Devonshire. First divide you scone as you would a so-called “English” muffin, then coat the bottom half of the scone with an ample amount of preserve. At this point, you dollop a goodly portion of clotted cream atop the jam. Then rebuild your scone and tuck in. So there it is. Simple. No butter. Just the jam then the cream You can of course, use, raspberry jam but that’s pushing it a bit. Strawberry jam is the preserve of choice. Try it and you’ll see why!

SconesPlate1S-1

Now you know how to eat scones, try baking some!

This is Frances’ recipe and very good it is, too! Her scones have an achingly soft yet firm top, beneath which is a light buttery interior where plump raisins hold sway. With each bite this tiny concoction tumbles apart with into a soft, sweet, slightly chewy morsel and the world is a decidedly better place for it. But enough rhapsodizing! Let’s get started.

You’ll need 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsps. baking powder, about a 1/4 cup sugar and 6 Tbsps. of very cold, unsalted butter. If using raisins, you’ll need approximately 1/2-3/4 cup (the more the better, I say). Also you’ll need 1 cup milk.

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut butter into mixture with pastry cutter or 2 knives until butter is reduced to pea-sized crumbs. Add raisins, pour in milk and stir quickly to make a firm dough. Don’t overmix–no need to get rid of every flour speck and, in fact, the buttery bits make the scones even flakier. Roll out dough on floured surface or between plastic wrap sheets until 3/4″-1″ thick; cut into 2″ rounds with cookie cutters and place and parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush lightly with milk and bake in preheated 400 F (200 C) oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly but serve warm. Makes about 16.

Now a word about Devonshire clotted cream. You can buy jars of this wonderful stuff in some Anglophilic supermarkets here in the States, but it costs a pretty penny. So I suggest you try this. Whip up some heavy cream with a little plain yogurt and some sugar to taste, then dollop the mixture into muslin or into a paper coffee filter and drain over a bowl in the fridge as though you were making Greek-style yogurt. The mixture should  drain for at least a couple of hours. Better to leave it four or five hours. Now rewhisk. You should end up with a luscious, rich cream that has the density and viscosity of genuine Devonshire clotted cream. Mind you, if you have no cream in the fridge, then by all means spread unsalted butter upon your scone. Just don’t tell anyone I told you to!

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Comments

  1. avatar says

    If I might, I’d recommend freezing the butter in preparation and working it into the dough in chunks… and then refreezing the scones on a baking tray after cut for about 10 minutes before placing in the oven… This delays the butter from melting as quickly leaving a more airy scone…

  2. avatar says

    I tried the recipe today, and next time I’ll remember the bit about freezing the butter first, because the first batch in the oven ended up a little dry and dense (the butter started melting when I was rolling the dough out; darn this California heat!). The second batch sat in the freezer for the 10 minutes (and got the milk bath I forgot about the first time), and they definitely turned out better. Next time I might try a few raisins (my sister wants me to try blueberries), but I love them plain like this. Just sweet enough…

    I have to admit, though, that I broke a rule… we don’t have any strawberry jam or the makings of clotted cream, so I spread a little butter and blackberry preserves on the bottom (they didn’t puff enough to split them), and they turned out completely heavenly. I’ll definitely be making these again. Thank you for the recipe!

    • avatar says

      Butter and blackberry jam? Oh, no! Just kidding–blackberry jam is one of our favourites, and we do have scones more often than we can find clotted cream, so fear not! So pleased you tried the recipe (twice!), and thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed them. I’m hungry now…

  3. avatarLanina123. says

    Marscapone makes a great substitute for clotted cream, but I will try the yogurt/cream mixture also.

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