Afternoon tea is quite the thing these days. From The Ritz to your local caff, everyone’s getting in on it. Including my work friend Azza who decided to throw an afternoon tea-themed flat-warming party last weekend. Being aware of my new-found fondness for baking, and having tried one of my cookies last week, Az asked if I would make some scones for her party. Yeah sure, I said. Oh God… What was I/she letting my/herself in for…
There was no getting out of it. I would have to make these scones if it killed me. Sconeday, AKA last Saturday, came round all too soon – and it was a very busy day, one that involved meeting a new-born baby, baking, going to the tip, driving from London to Birmingham. So, basically I knew that the slot I’d carved out for scone-ing was all I had. All or nothing. Thank God for Mary Berry.
While shooting around in the car that morning, I had read Mary’s recipe over and over again. (I wasn’t driving by the way.) (Just had a flashback to a scene in my favourite old comedy show, Spaced. “Brian, your uncle died in his sleep last week… whilst driving to Staines on the M4.”) Anyway it must have been the now-or-never pressure but when it came to making these bad boys, I just kind of did it. Just… got on with it. And ended up with things that looked like scones. And tasted like them by all accounts.
Here is Mary Berry’s recipe for Devonshire scones
Ingredients supposedly for 8-10 scones, though I ended up with 16 smaller scones
450g of self-raising flour
75g of room-temperature butter
2 rounded tsp of baking powder
50g of sugar
2 large free-range eggs
225ml/8fl oz of milk
What you do
Pre-heat oven to 220c/gas mark 7.
Sift your flour into big bowl, stir in your baking powder.
Chop your butter up into little cubes and ‘rub’ it into your flour mix. I YouTubed ‘rubbing’ – it basically is what it says on the tin but I learnt that lifting the flour while rubbing would add a nice bit of helpful air. Why not YouTube it too if you’re perplexed? Do this until your flour and butter resembles bread crumbs.
Next, stir in your sugar.
Then crack your eggs into a milk jug, beat and top with your milk (to the 10fl oz region).Stir into your dry mixture with wooden spooon – leaving two tbsp of the egg/milk mix for later.
Soon you will have what resembles a very sticky dough.
Plop it on a floured kitchen surface and flatten it – perhaps with rolling pin, though I used hands – until it resembles a 1-to-2-inch thick circle.
Take a 2-inch cookie cutter – or a glass in my case – and push into dough without twisting (to ensure an even rise, according to M-Bez)
Add your ‘scones’ to greased baking tray or baking tray lined with grease-proof paper as you go.
Keep going until it’s time to mould your dough back together again and keep cutting out circles til you have no dough left.
Glaze the top of your scones with the egg/milk mix, then pop into oven for ten minutes or until golden brown.
Then take to afternoon tea-themed house-warming, add to cake stand – alongside superior confections made by much more highly skilled baking work colleagues – and fill with jam and cream.
In their defence, when filled with jam and cream, the scones tasted really quite nice. Not too sweet, quite light, nice size so not too much of them. They were a little bit wonky, but maybe that added to their charm. Oh and one lot were nice and shiny while one lot weren’t – because I forgot to egg-wash-glaze the second batch.
Also at the afternoon tea: miniature red wine chocolate cakes, mini Victoria sponges, and teeny lemon curd sponge cakes, courtesy of work pal Clare. Maybe she will give me the recipe one day and I can include it on here. Anyway, they were deeeeeeVINE. One look and they were scone. Unlike my actual scones.
Also at afternoon tea party: crustless cheese, cheese and pickle, salmon and cream cheese, and beef and horse radish sandwiches – on white bread. Yum. Buttery, crustless white bread sandwiches somehow taste like the height of decadence. Cleopatra must have eaten them.
Oh, and there were balloons. And quiz games. And Prosecco. And girl singers on the stereo. All in all, a lot more fun than afternoon tea at a pricey restaurant (though less chandeliers) or at your local caff (and a lot less builders’ tea).
Basically, the motto of this post is: throw an afternoon tea party in your own living room – they’re fun.
Mary Berry’s Devonshire Scones Kitchen Stats
Kitchen cock-ups: Forgot to glaze the second lot of scones. A couple of the second batch looked like bums. I took them out of the picture. Oh, and I didn’t have a cake tin (still don’t), so had to take scones to Azza’s in a biscuit barrel – see pics.
Listened to: Bat For Lashes’ new album The Haunted Man. Ghostly but funky.