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I love scones.
Not just as a something to eat, but as a reminder that we all need to slow down once in awhile and just enjoy the moment.
For one amazing year, I was privileged enough to have an opportunity to host once to twice monthly pop-up teas.
We served either a three-course afternoon tea or a five-course deluxe tea. At the beginning of the year, we started serving scones first, instead of on a three-tiered tray, as a matter of necessity. By the end of the year, we were using the scone course to set the tone for the entire tea experience.
Our customers would walk in, get seated, and take a few moments to pick out their choice of tea.
While their tea was brewing, their scone course would arrive.
The warm, freshly-baked scones, accompanied by spreads and sauces selected to compliment the course, were an invitation to take a moment to be present and just relax. Sipping tea and eating scones was just the beginning. Our guests knew that we would proceed with the next courses at their pace. No one felt rushed, no one was glancing at the time on their phones in a hurry to move on to something else, and no one was worried they were taking too much time at a table that another customer was waiting for.
Scones are for enjoying, and it made it so easy for our guests to enjoy their time together, engaging in much needed face-to-face conversations that we usually have so little time for.
Phones were forgotten during the scones course. Laughter and conversation filled the room.
And when they were ready, we made them fresh pots of tea and brought out the next courses.
While I don’t get to do monthly teas anymore, I still love to make scones when I get the chance.
It reminds me that it is okay to take 20 minutes and just be.
After the indulgence of a cream tea (scones and tea, no other finger foods), I am recharged and ready to face the rest of the day.
And that is worth baking for.
I’m probably going to be making a lot of scones, so here’s a great basic step-by-step tutorial on scones. This way you don’t have to read the same thing over and over with basically the same pictures every time I post a recipe. 😊
Basic scone how-to:
Start by combining all the dry ingredients, as well as things like citrus zest, in a large bowl.
Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter in chunks.
Pulse the food processor a few times, until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Dump the mixture back into the large bowl.
If any nuts, chips, or dry fruits are to be added, stir them in now.
Next, whisk the wet ingredients like cream, vanilla, and eggs in a large measuring cup until combined.
Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and begin stirring.
Once the ingredients are moistened, use clean hands to bring the mixture together into a dough.
If the mixture is too dry, add more milk/cream/non-dairy ingredient about one tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple times, being careful not to overwork the dough or over-incorporate the butter.
Pat into a circle about 1 inch thick. Cut into wedges or use a cutter to make shaped scones.
Place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake according to the recipe directions, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. This might happen before the scone has noticeable browned edges, so it is important to test to see if they are done, and not for color, in order to preserve a moist scone.
If glaze or drizzle is needed, add after the scones have had about 10 minutes to cool.
Be sure to take a few minutes to relax and enjoy your handiwork with a cup of tea. I promise, it is worth it!
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Earl Grey and Orange Scones
Adapted from TeaTime Magazine
- 9 oz.- heavy cream
- 3 Tbs. – Creamy Earl Grey tea leaves, divided
- 1 – vanilla bean pod
- 290 g – all-purpose flour
- 67 g – granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. – fresh orange zest
- 2 tsp. – baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. – salt
- 85 g – unsalted butter, cold or frozen
- 1 – large egg
The day before baking:
- In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium-high heat to just below a simmer. Remove from heat. Add 2 Tbs. tea leaves, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain cream mixture into a bowl, discarding tea leaves. Cover bowl, and refrigerate until very cold, approximately 6 hours or overnight.
To make the scones:
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder), grind remaining 1 Tbs. of tea leaves until very fine.
- Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise, and reserve seeds. (Discard pod or add to a container of sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar.)
- In a large bowl, combine flour sugar, orange zest, ground tea, baking powder, salt, and reserved vanilla bean seeds, whisking well.
- Add dry ingredients to a food processor bowl. Place chunks of frozen or very cold butter on top of dry ingredients. Pulse a few times until there are no pieces of butter larger than a small pea. Return mixture to mixing bowl.
- Add egg to chilled cream, whisking to combine. Add cream mixture to flour mixture, stirring until mixture is evenly moist. (If dough seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Working gently, brink mixture together with hands until a dough forms.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 4 to 5 times. Pat dough into a 1-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/4 inch fluted round cutter, cut 11 scones from dough, recombining scraps as necessary. Place scones 2 inches apart on a prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until edges are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Serve warm with lemon curd and clotted cream.
Tea Pairing: Creamy Earl Grey Tea
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