A High Tea tradition is something special (especially for a birdthday), and homemade cream scones are essential to the experience.

A date with my girls

Last weekend I went to High Tea with my older daughter at a lovely English tearoom called Fancy That in Walpole, MA. It was the 20th time that we went to tea for her birthday. The first time we went she was 5 years old because I wanted to have a “Mommy Date” with her to make her feel special on her special day, and I felt she was old enough to really enjoy the experience (that, and I love High Tea and needed an excuse to go myself!). I took her from preschool to a quaint little coffee and tea shop near our home where the owner proceeded to make a VERY BIG DEAL about my little girl’s birthday. We had  homemade cream scones (with cream and jam), sandwiches cut into fun shapes with no crusts, and an assortment of sweets…there was even an extra Lemon Bar provided just for her. My young daughter loved it, and we had a wonderful date. The next year I took her out of Kindergarten early for our date, and our High Tea tradition was born. Later when my younger daughter turned 5, I treated her to the same experience. Both my girls knew that on their birthday they’d have a special date with Mommy.

 

Author's older daughter at 5yr
Our first birthday tea…my older daughter at 5

 

We’ve had many an adventure at our teas…the third year the tearoom forgot about our reservation, so my older daughter celebrated tea at a mall coffee shop…not the finest moment. That was the last time we went to our local tea room, and they went out of business soon after, so the search was on to find English tea places around South Orange County (in the Los Angeles area). We always managed to find somewhere to go. Some places we only went once (either they went out of business or we just weren’t that impressed), and some places we went to for years. For my older daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday, we made High Tea at home for her and her friends…that was extra special.

 

Author's younger daughter at 8yr
My younger daughter at 8…our 4th birthday tea

Scones are everywhere

So why am I going on about this? Formal High Tea is something special, but parts of the HIgh Tea tradition have become very mainstream, and the best example are scones. To my American palate, scones are quintessentially British and I’m definitely an Anglophile, but now they are everywhere…from the supermarket bakery section to Starbucks. You know me well enough by now to know that I would rather bake my own items than take my chances on commercially made products with who-knows-what in them. (Oh, we know, we know!). I also have talked in great detail about the baking ratios in Michael Ruhlman’s book  (See …and now to explain the “& Scones” for further enlightenment), so I won’t repeat that here (hurray!). Luckily, scones are easy to make from scratch, and the ability to riff on the basic recipe means that the variations are only limited by your imagination (yes, yes, and the ingredients you have…yeesh!).

A scone is an enriched biscuit (meaning eggs are added), so I use the 3-1-2 biscuit ratio (3 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 2 parts liquid), and count the egg into my measurement of the liquid (one egg is about 2 oz). The method is similar to making pie crust, and the importance of keeping everything chilled is just as important here.

Get creative

Here’s where the fun lies…you can use all sorts of substitutions for the liquid (e.g., pumpkin purée, applesauce, egg nog, etc.) and add additional spices to change up the flavor. You can drizzle the baked scones with melted chocolate or an icing that complements the flavor profile of your scones. And the mix-ins…well, I’ve said before that chocolate chips are practically a must for my family, but you could use nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or something else entirely. Also, scones don’t have to be sweet (what?!?) Just omit the sugar and use savory liquids and mix-ins (cheese, bacon, caramelized onions…shall I go on?) and you’ve got a wonderfully enriched biscuit to serve with dinner.

 

Mint Chip scone from Fancy That high tea
Mint Chips scones from our tea at Fancy That

 

Floral tea pot

And the sides…

What goes with scones? Of course, lemon curd and clotted cream are lovely, but I’ve seen whipped cream, butter, crème fraîche, and various jams and jellies at our teas, just to name a few. No rules!

I hope you’ll make up a batch of homemade cream scones, and if you do, please drop me a comment telling me what you made and how they were. Pictures are welcome, too! And if you have the time, inclination, and a local tearoom, create your own High Tea tradition with someone you love. It’ll be quite special.

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!

Tammy

Homemade Cream Scones

Scones at their most basic are delicious, and using a memorable ratio helps to remember how they're made
Adapted from Ratios 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Chilling Time20 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: High Tea, Michael Ruhlman, Moms & Daughters, Ratios, Scones
Servings: 8 scones
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Special Equipment

  • pastry cutter
  • half sheet baking pan
  • Silpat or parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (9 oz, 255g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter (3 oz, 85g), chilled & cubed, or frozen & grated (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (4 oz, 113g)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • mix-ins, as desired
  • extra cream for brushing on top
  • coarse sugar , to sprinkle on top
  • icing, as desired

Procedure

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add butter and mix using a pastry cutter, two forks, or even your hands, until coarse, pea-sized crumbs appear.
  • Mix the cream and egg together in a small bowl. Slowly add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and mix until the dough just holds together (here you have to be flexible about the amount of cream to add as the actual amount will depend on the humidity of the day). Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers and if it is very crumbly, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time (2 tablespoons maximum). If the dough is too wet, you can knead in more flour when you turn out the dough. Remember, do not over mix the dough (you want to keep that butter cold and separate from the flour).
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together into a rough ball. Knead a few times to combine (if you're adding any mix-ins to the dough, here's when you'd add them in). Gather the dough, and flatten into a disc or a rectangle about 1" high, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Once the dough is chilled, cut the disc into wedges or the rectangle into squares (if cutting the rectangle into squares, trim the outside edges of the dough first so that the scones can rise evenly). Alternatively, use a biscuit cutter to cut out shapes (gather and cut the leftover dough again as needed, but hopefully not more than 2 times).
  • Place the scones about 2-inches apart on a half baking sheet pan covered in a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush the tops of each scone with cream and sprinkle some coarse sugar on top.
  • Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool on pan for 2 minutes, then move to a cooling rack. Drizzle icing (if using) on top while the scoes are cooling. Let the icing set.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature...pair them with lemon curd and clotted cream for a lovely combination. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

How you cut up your butter isn't as important as keeping it cold. If it's a warm day out (or I don't have butter defrosted), I'll grate frozen butter on a box grater. Otherwise, I'll cut the chilled butter into small 1/2-inch cubes. Either way will work.
Some scone recipes use more butter than the 3-1-2 ratio. For this recipe, you can add another 2 Tbsp of butter for more richness if you'd like.
You an use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a food processor to make the dough...just be mindful not to overwork the dough.
The yield is generally about 8 scones (that's what I get from a circle cut into wedges, a rectangle, or 3" biscuit cutter), but yours may vary.
Did you make this recipe? Please share your pictures with the world on your social media outlets, tag me at @scotch_scones (on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter) or @scotchandsconesblog (on Facebook), and use the hashtag #scotchandsconesblog. I can’t wait to see your creations!
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13 Comments

  1. Tammy Cooper April 14, 2017 at 5:58 am

    I re-read the tea reasoning – love it!

    Keep up the blogging!
    Enjoyed our visit and catching up!

    Tammy

    Reply

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