Adventures of a Cream Tea Addict: Part 2

I stumbled across scones only the last two years of my life in the UK. Previously I had only ever had store bought scones {dry and bland} and scones with sultanas or raisins in {who eats dried flies in their food anyhow… YUCK} or American Scones {don’t get me started on those}.  For the Americans like me out there who didn’t really understand scones: scones are NOT biscuits, they just look the similar.  Nor are they anything like American Scones which are a kind of dense triangle of cookie-ish stuff.  British scones are very very light and fluffy and essentially they serve the purpose (almost exclusively) of carrying other tasty things… namely jam and clotted cream together or independently.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

And scones are an art.

Monsieur Scone @ Sweet Little Wood

It happened in the New Forest.  BTW anyone planning a trip to the UK this is a wonderful place to go and outstandingly beautiful.  It sits alongside The Isle of Purbeck, Derbyshire and the Brecon Beacons as the most wonderful magical places I know of in the UK.  It is living history with rights to commoning alive and well!  I worked as a midwife in New Forest Birth Center and one memorable home birth involved a commoning donkey sticking it’s head through the window at regular intervals to check on progress.  The New Forest is named (like most ancient forests in the UK) for being a royal hunting ground not a wooded area though there are many spectacular woodlands and forests the New Forest; the “forest” bit actually = royal hunting ground.  So when we say that Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest… that’s right he lived on a royal hunting ground which may well have had forests but not necessarily. I digress…

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

In the heart of New Forest is an adorable village called Lyndhurst; full of indie shops, pubs and restaurants it lays claim to the most spectacular cream tea I have ever eaten.  The scones were 5 inches tall and so delicious.   It wasn’t my first cream tea nor my last but it remains pretty much the best.  My every attempt at delicious fluffy scones are measured by Lyndhurst and The Greenwood Tree Cafe.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

Making scones in England was so easy:  the ingredients combined effortlessly into the best fluffiest finish and high rise.   Sugar in the UK comes in  regular and caster grades- caster is finer and dissolves more readily- in the US regular sugar falls in a space between regular and caster sugar.  And salt… Self Raising Flour in the US is very salty which makes sweet scones just a little too salty when salt is added.  However I think the biggest obstacle to fluffy scones is Baking Powder. Everyone insists it is the same but every single recipe I make using UK measurements with US baking powder tastes dreadfully bitter.  We have to halve all the baking powder to prevent the taste of the b.p. overwhelming the food. And then there is the rise factor. US baking powder just doesn’t rise as well.   So I put up with using half the baking soda, less rise in my scones but them being at least edible!  So when I can get it (usually out of my mother-in-law’s magical suitcase of  treats) I use British baking powder. When I cant… I use this…

US adapted Scones:

100 g butter (its a standard stick with a little slice removed)

450 g home made Self-Raising flour + a cup extra for cutting with on the surface

1 tsp baking powder (double in Britain)

100g sugar

A pinch of salt

275-300 ml mix of about 100g live yogurt and remainder milk.  This is good poured in advance so that it is at room temperature which increases the initial rise.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.  Rub the Flour and butter together till it forms a sort of soft sandy texture.  Tip #1: I just throw it in my stand mixer and it does it beautifully.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

Add the remaining dry ingredients. Tip #2: I will sometimes add a dash of cinnamon at this point as it makes the plain scone (as one of my children prefers) taste delicately divine.

You then add as much of the yogurt-milk mix as you need to form a messy sticky lump.  I  have only added less than the full 300 ml when I haven’t had enough yogurt to make up a third.  Tip #3:  The key at this step is not to over mix. Turn it all together until it is only just mixed… it is going to look like a lumpy mess with small amounts of un-mixed flour.  If you grab some of the dough it should be quite sticky and unmanageable.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

Put a generous amount of your spare flour on a clean surface- this stuff is sticky- and place your blob of scone batter with the minimal of handling on the surface and spread just enough flour on top of the batter so that you can press the top without sticking.  Tip #4:  I do not roll scones it makes them tougher and less fluffy I gently pat out the mix till it is about an inch thick.  Flour your cutter (scones wont hold detail of fancy cookie cutters but they do cut into very pretty hearts!  When you have scraps dust off as much flour as possible and then with a minimal of handling squish it together and cut again.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

Place cut scones onto cookie trays, no need to grease. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The scones should be a pale creamy color similar to the raw dough (not brown) when removed.  Serve them warm if you can but they will be just as soft and delicious served cold a few days down the road.

Cream Tea and home made Scones @ Sweet Little Wood

Party party, in my tummy.

xx

Joanna

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