Anyone for tea and scones?

With all the recent goings on with my trip to the UK and really any time I travel abroad, I immerse myself in the local customs and traditions. I want to taste what is considered the quintessential cuisine of that country, and even as far as a village's own specialty.

When I was at Dalemain Mansion for the Marmalade Awards this past March I imbibed in afternoon tea and scones. By the way, I'm told the correct pronunciation of the "o" sounds like gone not stone. Anyway, the occasional snow flurries were becoming more of a constant stream of wind and ice so ducking in for a hot cup of tea with those warm, comforting scones looked preeeeetty darn good.

And they were divine.

When I returned home I wanted to try and replicate the experience somewhat by making classic English scones and stumbled upon Fortnum & Mason's scones recipe. They sure look to be as traditional as it gets. Not that I'm an expert by any stretch of the imagination but for a company that's been in business for over 300 years, I suspect they know a thing or two about tradition.

Now, the recipe called for "00" flour which is milled finer than all-purpose flour. And I did not have it. However, you can fake it with a 3 to 1 ratio of all-purpose flour to pastry flour. The other improvisations I made were the omission of the salt since my butter was salted. I also added a little lemon zest.

I broke up the butter into little pieces then rubbed them into the flour using my palms, sort of smearing the butter into flakes. You do this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then in goes the baking powder.

Next, add the sugar. Oops, another substitution! I whizzed regular cane sugar in the spice mill a few times to mimic castor sugar or superfine sugar as it's called here in the states. Once that's all incorporated the milk goes in. I used half & half since we didn't have whole milk.

I added the zest of one lemon because I just love citrus in almost everything I bake. The dough is then brought together so that it's completely incorporated but be careful not to over mix as it will become tough. This dough now sits for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap. Now, I'm not sure if I was supposed to do this but I put it in the icebox.

Next, the dough gets rolled out to about 5/8" thick and the scones cut out with a 2 1/4" cutter. (These measurements are rough equivalents to the metrics given in the F&M recipe).

Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with an egg wash. Don't let the egg drip down the sides of the scone otherwise that may inhibit the rise. Now they rest for another 30 minutes on the counter.

After the rest, place them into a preheated oven at 350˚ for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms have browned and they look well risen...

And here they are! Hmmm. Didn't quite rise as much as I would have liked. Now, some recipes I've seen use self-rising flour so perhaps I should give that a go next time. Or maybe my baking powder is a bit old. Or perhaps I shouldn't have put them in the icebox to rest. I guess there's a myriad of reasons. But...that's the way the cookie crumbles. (Or scone, rather.)

Beyond that, the texture was really lovely. Light and flaky. The lemon zest was inconsequential so I may just omit it altogether. Besides, my Cara Cara marmalade was all the citrus flavor it needed. All in all the flavor was very light and delicate. Alone it's actually rather ordinary. But as the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts! 

I hope you give it a try so you can have a little taste of English tradition. Next I must learn to make clotted cream!


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