By Andrew Lewis
Cream tea is a real English treat, consisting of scones, clotted cream, jam, tea, and (occasionally) bread and butter. Most tea shops offer cream tea on their menu, and it would be difficult to imagine a trip to the seaside without stopping for cream tea somewhere along the promenade.
It would also be difficult to imagine anything more satisfying than sitting down in a steamy tea room in the middle of winter and ordering a cream tea to restore the life to frozen limbs.
There is no reason why you can’t enjoy a cream tea at home, provided that you have all of the necessary ingredients. You can find jam and clotted cream at most convenience stores, and scones are very easy to make. I usually find that guests enjoy two scones as part of a cream tea, although one scone is perfectly acceptable if you have provided a full afternoon tea with sandwiches and boiled eggs.
The recipe below will make about six large scones, and you should expect your guests to use about half a pound of jam and half a pound of clotted cream between them. If you are providing bread and butter, add a little more jam to your calculations.
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1/2 lb plain bread flour
1 1/2 oz margarine
1 oz sugar
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup milk (approximate)
Jam and clotted cream
Step 1: Sieve the flour, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl.
Step 2: Dice the margarine into the bowl. The margarine should be firm, not melted. Work the margarine into the flour by rubbing the mixture between finger and thumb.
Step 3: Add the sultanas to the bowl.
Step 4: Create a well in the middle of the flour, and pour in a little of the milk. Stir the milk into the flour with a palette knife or with your hands.
Step 5: Keep stirring milk into the flour a little bit at a time, until the mixture holds together as a pastry. You should be able to roll the pastry into a ball with your hand, leaving little or no residue in the mixing bowl. If the mixture seems too wet and sticky, try adding more flour. If the mixture is too dry, then add more milk.
Step 6: Transfer the pastry onto a floured work surface, and roll out until it is about half an inch thick.
Step 7: Cut the pastry into rounds. A 2″ pastry cutter will produce generously sized scones for a High Tea, while a smaller cutter might be better for picnics or for a children’s party.
Step 8: Place the scones onto a lined baking tray and brush them with milk. Bake at 425˚ F for 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Step 9: Place the scones on a cooling rack for a few minutes. The scones should be slightly warm when served, but not hot. If you do not use a cooling rack, the steam from the hot scones will make the pastry too moist, and the scones will fall apart.
Step 10: Serve the scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and tea with milk.
It is usually considered proper to split the scone in half and spread jam onto the scone before the cream, although there are a rebellious few who don’t bother to split the scone at all, or use raspberry jam instead of strawberry. I count myself among the scone rebels because I prefer raspberry jam, and I prefer to reassemble the scone, rather than leave it in two halves.
About the Author:
Andrew Lewis is a journalist, a maker, victophile, and founder of the www.upcraft.it blog.