English Tea Scones
This recipe is very close to us. Anything that is traditional or comes steeped in history, entices us to unimaginable extents. Scones is one such thing. They are said to have been originated in Scotland, England and Ireland. It’s not a surprise, given its huge consumption their. Even the Queen loves them! English afternoon tea can absolutely not take place without these. And its for a reason. If there is anything that accompanies tea very well… its scones. There’s even a term for a tea that just consists of these – Devon Cream Tea – scones, clotted cream and jam.
Scones are a perfect accompaniment to an afternoon tea or an English tea. In India, tea-time snacks are almost an obvious need for everyone. We know the feeling when you want to have something with a cup of tea or coffee and can’t decide what it is that you want. Should it be a piece of cake, a cookie out of your pantry cupboard, a toast with butter or maybe make a quick trip to your nearest bakery. This solves all of those dilemmas in one shot. Scones satisfy the craving of biscuit, cookie, bun and cake all at once because of its unique texture. It is soft, crisp, caky and biscuit-y. Somewhat like a shortcake but different. So it’s a midway to shortcrust pastry and cake.
The best part about scones is that they are so versatile, you can make them sweet, savoury or neutral and eat them with different combinations of, jams, jellies, fruit compote or cheese and herbs. The possibilities are endless! We’ll be happy to answer your questions, if any, regarding what would go with it or what accompaniments would work like magic. Feel free to ask.
Scones are made with very simple ingredients and there’s absolutely no need for electric beaters, stand mixers or any other kitchen gadgets. Your hands are just fine! This recipe is so easy to make, you can make it in time for your tea if you have a sudden craving or a guest coming over.
Measure all you ingredients and keep. Make sure your butter is chilled. Begin with the flour, salt, baking powder and butter in a big bowl.
Rub in the butter – this is a common term used in pastry making. This is especially done when making short crust pastry. You just need to take the cubes of butter, roll them in butter and break them., coat them again with flour and repeat. What we want is a crumbly mixture of butter and flour. This process ensures that the glutenous components in flour are cut short. So your end product will not be stretchy like bread but more biscuit-y. You can use a pastry cutter for this
If you don’t have one, don’t fret, use your hands. Inspite of having the cutter, we prefer using our hands. In fact that’s the most fun part. It is has a stress-busting effect and feels very therapeutic. You must try it.
Thats how you just squeeze and crush the butter. They will keep breaking into smaller bits as you go along. Mix the butter and flour mixture every once in a while. make sure your butter hasn’t completely melted. If it does, put it in the fridge for 5-10 mins. Continue the same process.
A great way to keep your butter cold without having to chill it midway through it – is to only use your fingers. You can see my palms are clean. The palm can transfer more heat and melt the butter easily.
This is when you stop. Your mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. You don’t need it to be even. This is fine.
Add the sugar to your flour mixture and keep aside.
Beat one egg and keep some aside for glazing later. In a bowl, mix the remaining egg, milk, lemon zest and vanilla.
Add the liquid to the flour mixture and bring together. You can use a spoon or your hands.
Once mixed, tip it onto your kitchen counter. You don’t really need to knead it. Just press it so that it comes together to form a soft dough.
Once its come together, roll it out 1-inch thick. Don’t make it thin. You can also just press it with your hand and spread
Use a cookie cutter, a ring mould or anything else in you kitchen that you can find for the purpose. Roughly 2 – 4 inch in diameter should do. If it sticks to your cutter, push it down gently. If it sticks too much then coat your cutter with flour and it will slide off.
Place them on a baking tray lined with baking/parchment/butter paper. The paper will ensure they come off easily after baking. Once you’ve cut out the scones, bring the remaining dough back together and cut again. Repeat till the dough is finished. If your baking tray or oven isn’t big enough then put the remaining dough in the fridge and bake later. At this stage you can brush with egg on top for that golden colour and glaze. If you do not want to glaze with egg, you can just brush some milk on top gently.
Put them in the preheated oven to bake. Once baked, they will rise and crack open from the centre. Thats great for a scone. You can just open it along that line to put cream and jam because a scone is never cut open with a knife. At least not by rule.
Traditionally, scones are served with clotted cream and jam. The Brits are so passionate about what they eat and how they eat it that there’s even a debate about how it tastes better – clotted cream first and jam on top or jam first and clotted cream on top. Can you believe it! Yes, we love it when people give so much importance to their food… those are the happier people.
So, we suggest you try both ways and take your pick. The best way to serve it, is the way YOU like it! If you don’t want to eat it with cream you can just put butter on a warm scone and top it with jam or jelly. It tastes divine… somewhat like a mini Victoria Sandwich.
Scones can also be made savoury or served with cheese. Its like a base, add anything to it. Sometimes sultanas or potatoes may also be added.
Recipe: English Tea Scones
200 gm All-purpose Flour 2½ tsp Baking Powder 1 egg, beaten (substitute for egg is given below in the tips) 50 gm unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes 2 tbsp caster sugar 1/tsp salt, (skip if using salted butter) 50 ml Milk ½ tsp vanilla extract/essence Zest of 1 lemon, optional Butter, Clotted cream and jam to serve
Preheat oven to 220° C. line a baking tray with parchment or baking paper.
Keep 1 tbsp egg aside to use later for the egg wash.
In a bowl sift flour and baking powder. Add the butter and rub fast with your fingers till it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar to this mixture.
Add the remaining egg, milk, lemon zest and vanilla extract and bring it together lightly to form a soft dough.
Roll out the dough 2cm / 1 inch thick
Using a cookie cutter of diameter 1 ½ to 2 inches cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking tray.
Take the reserved egg and brush it over the scones.
Bake them for 14-16 mins or till golden brown.
Remove and eat warm with butter, clotted cream and jam.
Tip: Eggless Version-instead of the egg add 30 ml or 2 tbsp of cream and 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch.