What comes to mind when you hear “Afternoon Tea”, other than HRH The Queen, pinkies up and flowers? Scones, of course! Afternoon Tea without scones just is just a cup of tea, really. So when Villeroy & Boch asked us to do a tea time story for them, we had lots of ideas, but scones were at the top of our list.
Before we spill the tea on our secrets to this perfect afternoon event, can we just take a moment to gush over V&B's adorable and timeless Petite Fleur Collection 😍. Its decorative little flowers and scalloped edges make it the perfect choice for this party fit for royalty (we're looking at you, Meghan & Kate!). Head over to the Villeroy & Boch blog to see what else we served!
Scones are a subject of debate, believe it or not, on many levels. First, there’s the - does scone rhyme with ’on’ or ‘own’ - debate which we’ve been through before. Then there’s the round versus triangular debate. English scones are round and to be paired with jam and clotted cream, as opposed to the triangular ones that are more common in the US. Finally, is it clotted cream or jam first? Apparently different counties in England have different preferences so there’s no right or wrong. Now that we’ve cleared up all the confusion, let’s get to it, shall we?
Traditionally, Afternoon Tea consists of three courses. First the sandwiches and savory bites, followed by scones and lastly the sweet treats. However, when you're hosting, it's much easier to bring it all out at once so that you're not spending all the time between the kitchen and your guests. For a little pizazz, add champagne for a Royal Tea. You know we were going to find a spot for bubbles somewhere...
This is, hands down, our favorite recipe (and believe us when we say we have tried and tested MANY over the years). It comes from Nigella Lawson's, How to be a Domestic Goddess. The texture of these scones is heavenly - fluffy on the inside and just waiting to be smothered with a layer of thick, unctuous clotted cream and strawberry jam.
English Tea Scones adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess (makes 12)
3-3/4 cups (500 g) flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar (this may be hard to find on mainland Europe. You can always try ordering online, or substitute baking powder)
1/2 cup (1 stick/115 g) butter
1-1/4 cup (300 ml) whole milk
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Lightly grease a baking tray. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it is well incorporated and the mixture feels like wet sand. Add the milk, mix gently and briefly, I use a knife or a fork just to disperse the liquid. You don't want to over-mix this batter or you'll end up with gummy scones (treat this as you would a muffin batter). Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press it together, kneading ever so gently, so that it forms a dough. Don't mind the lumps, with this, lumps are good!
Roll out the dough to about 1-1/4" (3cm) thick. I prefer to use my hands just to pat it down to the right thickness. Dip the cutter into some flour and stamp out as many scones as you can. You'll have to re-roll/shape to get the last few, but try not to manipulate the dough too much. Place them on a baking tray, brush with the egg, and bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden in color.
Eat them fresh out of the oven if you can, with lashings of clotted cream and a healthy helping of strawberry jam.