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Monday, February 6, 2012

Biscuits go to London, the Magnificent Cream Scone


Dough is stiff, but not crumbly
note the pastry cutter 



An English tea is a wondrous culinary event.  Simple, but as stylish as an Audrey Hepburn movie.  A proper tea extends the boundaries well beyond the limits of teabags and sweet biscuits in the kitchen. It’s sitting in an ages old hotel, in London, or lounging in a quaint, half-timbered countryside inn, basking in the glow of an ancient fireplace, and being served a sumptuous bounty of finger sandwiches, short cakes, and buttery scones.  Small pots of fresh jam.  Cosied pots of fragrant tea.  You gaze wistfully at the tiered delicacies and wonder if you should break the spell and nibble these works of art.
            But, lacking the time and money to get to England, you can transform mere biscuits into scones and mere fruit into homemade jam.  Let’s do both, and I’ll  leave it to you to dream the rest.
            You have the recipe for biscuits.  Let’s alter it a bit and taste the difference.

Scones


2 Cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Cups cream

Mix the dry ingredients.   Cut in the butter.  I use a food processor, but two forks, or an old-fashioned pastry cutter work well. Note that you’re using less butter than for biscuits.

After cutting in the butter, mix in the cream to make a stiff dough.  Too stiff?  Add a little more cream.   Flatten the dough into a round, about  3/4 of an inch thick.  Cut the round into wedges.  Separate and bake the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet at 450ºF, or 230ºC for 12 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

            Now let’s make the jam.  Use fresh fruit, or the glass-bottled fruit you find in the supermarket.  Peaches are one of my favorites. I sometimes add some fresh ginger to the mix.   Finely chop the continents of the jar, reserving the liquid, and put the bits in a frying pan.  Add a cup of sugar.  Let the sugar melt, then cook the mixture until the jam is thickened.  That’s it!  If gets too thick, add some of the reserved fruit liquid.  Serve the jam fresh and hot, or refrigerate and use it later.
            Present your scones and jam to your friends, with a pot of Earl Grey, or English Breakfast Tea, or of a million other varieties of tea.
            After tasting these scones, you’ll be saving your pennies for a trip to England.

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