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