I taught a class on the art of Afternoon Tea this past weekend. I've done this class several years in a row, but each time is a new experience. All 20 students this time were all so pleasant and enthusiastic while sipping tea, watching me cook, and listening to my ramblings on history, etiquette, and recipes.
I love to serve fresh-baked scones from the oven in this class. I have several recipes for scones, and for this class, I switched up the recipe from a buttermilk scone to a cream one. Half-way through the demonstration of cutting butter into the flour, I had the overwhelming sense that I had more flour than was called for. Re-measuring quickly ensued, as did my elevated blood pressure! Thankfully, I recovered gracefully, and served up some decent scones--not my best by any means, but definitely palatable when slathered with homemade clotted cream and lemon curd!
One student from the class wrote me and said:
I'm Irish and make scones on a regular basis but I make sure all the flour is incorporated and roll before cutting. I was amazed at the difference in the consistency that makes. Mine are good to take on the run out the door but yours were heavenly for a tea. Thank you for showing me that difference."
So...I thought you might enjoy a few of my tips for perfect scones. (I'm no professional, so please chime in if you have more suggestions!)
1) Chill everything--your bowl, pastry cutter, and butter!
2) Don't mix with anything but your pastry cutter. (No fingers, spoons, etc.)
3) Work quickly!
4) Keep dough consistency dry when all incorporated, only adding a tsp of ice water at a time if needed at the end.
5) Turn dough onto board, one big handful at a time, mashing it down in one stroke, and cutting immediately with biscuit cutter. No kneading and rolling!
6) Always bake on parchment paper.
Here's the recipe I shared this weekend. For my buttermilk recipe, look here.
Traditional Cream Scones
Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, the 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal; make a well in center. Separate 1 of the eggs; reserve egg white. Stir together egg yolk and remaining whole egg, then stir in cream. Pour into well and mix with pastry cutter, blending quickly throughout.
Sprinkle board with flour. Divide dough into 2-3 parts, and turn one part out at a time onto floured board. Gently knead once, and flatten dough to 1/2 inch. Cut with biscuit cutter. Repeat with remaining dough until all is used. Arrange scones on parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush tops with reserved egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8 scones.
Sit down to a cup of tea this afternoon, with your kiddos or with a good book. Try a perfect scone with jam to make it just that much more special...