We were reading Nigel Slater’s “Eating for England”:
Scones remain the single essential item in the important matter of afternoon tea […] [A] scone should be between four and six centimetres high, and should break neatly in half without recourse to a knife. Smaller ones are especially charming. Nothing offered on the tea tray should ever be bigger than two bites […] Which bright spark came up with the idea of including sultanas in the mix we shall never know. It is the very plainness of a scone that makes it so eminently suited to a life, albeit a short one, covered in butter, jam and clotted cream. Sultanas turn the whole thing into a dog’s dinner.
-Nigel Slater, “Eating for England”, Scones and the Sultana Problem, p.110-111
And we suddenly neeeeeeded to have scones. Scones without sultanas. Because he’s definitely right about that! Sultanas in scones?? Ewwwwww! (The only place that sultanas belong are in Nigella’s chicken.)
However, he’s wrong wrong wrong that the scone should be fruit-free.
When I was growing up, we always made Mrs. Bethel’s scones. Because they were the best scones. Scones must have currants. Or Thompson raisins, as long as they are small Thompson raisins. And nutmeg. Just a hint of nutmeg.
Slater, of course, is entirely correct that clotted cream is a requirement. But it’s not like clotted cream is a staple in Canada. And we’re NOT going to fly to Devon. The president used to sell small containers of heavy cream that had the wonderful phrase “ideal with fresh fruit” emblazoned on the top. Alas, someone did a demographic study and decided for us that we don’t care for “ideal with fresh fruit” cream.
Whipped cream just isn’t the same. Cream cheese mixed with cream works in a pinch, but on the day we decided we couldn’t live without scones before leaving the house, we didn’t have any cream cheese on hand.
But we did have soft goat’s cheese. It turns out that soft goat’s cheese mixed with yoghurt (home-made of course; yoghurt is ridiculously easy to make) and a little demerrara sugar is a very reasonable facsimile for clotted cream.
And of course, we had jam too. Black currant jam. Foofy black currant jam with pomegranate from the President. That was so good, we finished it. And now we can’t find it anymore. Why oh why do they keep making these decisions for us?!
You are faced with a plate of scones, a pat of butter, a dish of jam and a pot of clotted cream. […] You have either butter or cream, never both. At least not when everyone is looking. It is generally accepted that the jam goes on first, followed by a teaspoonful of cream. Others insist it is the other way round.
-Nigel Slater, “Eating for England” How to dress a scone, p.212
Luckily for us, not everyone was looking: we had all three condiments on our scones. Butter first, next cream (maybe more than a tablespoon), THEN jam. Mmmmmm!!! Scones with butter, “cream” and black currant jam. What could be finer?
Here’s how you too can have your scones and eat them too.
based on our recipe for Mrs. Bethel’s Scones
Preheat oven to 400F
- 3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ c whole wheat flour
- ¼ c sugar
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 2½ Tbsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ c currants (more or less)
- 1⅓ c milk (7 Tbsp milk powder and 1⅓ c water)
- Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter til it is pea sized.
- Add currants and milk. Stir just until it all holds together.
- Knead about 20 times on a lightly floured board.
- Pat out to about 1 inch thick. Use a knife to cut into diamonds or triangles and place on an UNGREASED cookie sheet.
- Let sit on the cookie sheet 6 or 7 minutes.
- Bake at 400F on the top shelf of the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve immediately with butter, jam and/or cream. Tea is de rigeur with scones, but coffee is brilliant as well.
Faux Clotted Cream
based on our recipe for Creamy cream cheese topping
- soft goat’s cheese
- plain yoghurt
- demerrara sugar, to taste
- Mash the goat’s cheese to soften. Add a good shot of yoghurt and demerrara (or regular brown) sugar. Mix well til smooth.
» Mrs.Bethel calls for shortening rather than butter in her scones. We used to use shortening too but we no longer keep it on hand. The transfats in vegetable shortening are just too unnerving. And vegetable shortening without transfats tastes too coconutty.
» Mrs.Bethel suggests dusting the cookie sheet with corn meal. Parchment paper works too if you are concerned that the scones might stick to the bottom of the pan.
» Cream cheese works in place of goat’s cheese to give a softer flavour but firmer texture.
Did we have our scones with tea? Ha. Being Canadian, we don’t HAVE to have tea with scones. We had coffee. Delicious Vesuviana coffee.
Two for Tuesdays!
Eat Real Food
This event was created by Alex (A Moderate Life) with the idea that each “Two for Tuesday” post would contain two things (two recipes, two links, two variations on a theme… as long as it’s about real food. Heather (girlichef), Beth (bethstedman.com), and Michelle (Health Food Lover) have joined forces to co-host the event. They wrote:
» REAL food is homemade. REAL food is from scratch. REAL food has recognizable ingredients. REAL food is made from traditional ingredients. REAL food is food you make with your own hands. -Heather (girlichef), “Extra! Extra! Read all About It! Announcing… TWO for TUESDAYS!”
» Write about what you are passionate about, what you are learning, what you are trying, or ANYTHING having to do with real, wholesome, traditional food. -Beth (bethstedman.com), “Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop”
» The blog hop is designed to help you share your REAL FOOD recipes and ideas. As long as your post is on REAL FOOD you’re good to go! -Michelle (Health Food Lover), “Introducing The ‘Two For Tuesday Blog Hop’!”
» Two for Tuesday is the theme, so, you can post two recipes, two links, a recipe with a variation or ANY real food or wholesome food information. -Alex (A Moderate Life), “Two for Tuesday Recipe Carnival is Finally Here”
- Create a post featuring REAL FOOD. […]
- Go to any of the 4 hosting blogs on a Tuesday and add a link to your post (post specific URL, not your home page URL). […]
For complete details in how to participate in “Two for Tuesdays!” please read the following:
- Beth (bethstedman.com): Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop
- Heather (girlichef): Extra! Extra! Read all About It! Announcing… TWO for TUESDAYS!; agua de tamarindo little bit of real
- Michelle (Health Food Lover): Introducing The ‘Two For Tuesday Blog Hop’!
Cook the Books Club
A Bimonthly Foodie Book Club Marrying the Pleasures of Reading and Cooking
I have only recently become aware of this event and completely and entirely missed the 21 May 2010 deadline for Nigel Slater’s “Eating for England”. But thanks to “Cook the Books”, we are now in the middle of reading Slater’s delightful book as our read-aloud-before-dinner book. In spite of the fact that the book is a relatively quick read, comprised of several short essays, it’s taking us ages to get through it. We keep getting sidetracked with exclaiming and discussing each essay.
Cook the Books Guidelines
- Order, buy, or borrow the appointed book.
- After reading the book, cook up something delicious inspired by [the book] and blog about it.
The current “Cook the Books” book is ‘The School of Essential Ingredients’ by Erica Bauermeister and the deadline for post submission is 30 July 2010. For more information on “Cook the Books”, please read the following:
- Cook the Books Club
- Eating for England ROUNDUP (Jo (Foodjunkie) made scones too.)
- The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister: Essential Summer Reading at Cook the Books
This post is partially mirrored on The FreshLoaf.