On a recent trip to London, I was reminded of my fond affection for Devonshire Tea, essentially a scone served with jam and cream. In fact, my desire for a daily scone fix made me brave enough to venture into a café on my lonesome most afternoons, just so I could sit down to a proper cup of tea with a plate of warm scones. There is nothing more restorative if you have been on your feet all day, visiting museums and shopping on the High Street
One such lovely establishment serving scones (although not proper Devonshire Tea) was the Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden, a branch of what seems to be a patisserie/café chain store in the UK, although each one I came across seemed quite charming and unique, not necessarily catering to the masses. I found them to be welcoming enough to enter and sit by myself, sipping a warming cup of coffee or tea with something sweet on the side while I attempted, with travel guide books and street maps spread out around me, to plan my next place of visit. Stay tuned for an upcoming, although brief, travel post on London …
Scones are rather easy to make at home, although they seem to be rather easy to stuff up as well. I had tried various recipes which produced tasteless, rock-hard buns before coming across a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess for Lily’s Scones. Somehow, these scones worked perfectly for me the first time I made them, and I haven’t looked at another recipe since. I quite often make them plain, but you could easily add a handful or more of raisins for a fruit scone, or even some grated cheddar or Gruyère for a savoury scone.
The scones are best eaten right away, or at least on the day of baking. But I find that if you individually wrap them in clingfilm, they still taste quite fresh one or two days later. This recipe also halves well to produce a smaller batch of scones.
I have been using this particular recipe for about 10 years, so if you have a favourite scone recipe which you would like to share, I would love to hear from you!
Recipe adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
4 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
25 g (1 oz) lard or vegetable shortening (or simply use butter)
300 ml full cream milk
1 egg, beaten (for the egg-wash)
And to serve the scones, I think you really do need a red jam of sorts, and nothing can beat a seasonal strawberry jam. I was looking for a no-fuss strawberry jam recipe and came across one in Bake by Rachel Allen. The recipe seemed a little unusual at first, in that it requires you to first warm the sugar in the oven before adding it to the cooked fruit. I suppose this is to help keep everything at a consistent temperature and perhaps speed up the cooking process. My first batch was so delicious that it was devoured in a few weeks, prompting me to make a second and third batch over the summer, which have since also disappeared. Whilst the season for strawberries is pretty much over, I might try to squeeze in one more batch whilst strawberries are still reasonably priced, and especially to provide a bit of colour in the winter months coming ahead.
I’ve used fresh strawberries in this recipe, but you could also use frozen strawberries. And for a raspberry jam, simply use the same quantity of raspberries but omit the lemon juice.
Recipe adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen
Makes approximately 4 x 375 g (13 oz) jars
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) granulated sugar
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) fresh and ripe strawberries, hulled
juice of 2 lemons