There’s nothing like afternoon tea in a quaint setting with some delicious scones, clotted cream and jam. Scones are a classic English recipe, and today I’m sharing Queen of British Bakers Mary Berry‘s scone recipe. If you haven’t heard of her stateside, she is the woman of the moment in the baking scene here. Cordon-Bleu trained, a former magazine cooking editor and one of the presenters of the immensely popular BBC TV show The Great British Bake Off. She’s also written over 70 books. I’ve plucked this recipe from one of her most recent books, Mary Berry Cooks, given to me by a friend.
Tea Time Scones
These can be made a day ahead and gently reheated in the oven. Also good frozen and defrosted at room temperature, then refreshed in a hot oven.
You will need:
250 g/9 oz/2.25 cups self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
40 g/1.5 oz/3 Tbsp softened butter, plus extra for greasing
25 g/1 oz/.25 cups caster (superfine) sugar
about 100 ml/4 fl oz/0.5 cups milk
1. You will need 4 cm (1.5 in) fluted cutter. Preheat the oven to 220C/220C fan/Gas 7/350F. Grease two baking trays.
2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
3. Beat the egg and place in a measuring jug. Pour in enough milk to make the liquid up to 100 ml (4 fl oz), then put about 1 tablespoon aside for glazing the scones later. (I found I needed to add a bit more liquid as my mixture was too dry.)
4. Gradually add the egg and milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring it in until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
5. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out until it is about 2 cm (.75 in) thick. Cut the scones using the cutter, making sure you don’t twist the cutter or the scones won’t rise evenly.
6. Gather the trimmings together and pat out again to make more scones. Arrange on the greased baking trays and brush the tops with the reserved milk.
7. Bake for 8 minutes until well risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
8. To serve, cut each scone in half horizontally and top with butter, strawberry jam, or clotted or whipped cream.
Strawberry jam and clotted cream are the traditional toppings for scones, but butter works a treat if you haven’t got cream. For any American readers who may be curious as to what clotted cream is–it’s delicious. When I first heard of it I thought it sounded disgusting; I couldn’t get past the “clotted” part. It’s actually normal cream heated to evaporate some of the liquid, making it thick like a whipped cream (perhaps thicker). It generally has a yellow-y crust on top, and for anyone who needs to know, it’s generally about 55 percent butterfat. (Perhaps best not to know.)
If you’ve travelled to England, particularly to Devon or Cornwall, you may have heard of the famous “Cornish Cream Tea” or the “Devon Cream Tea.” There’s a great rivalry, apparently, as to which tea is best, although they’re essentially the same thing: scones, cream, jam, and the clotted cream itself, which has its origins from somewhere within the two counties.
The big difference between the two teas is fairly subtle but, in this sort of rivalry, it’s very important. In Cornwall, one places their jam on the scone, then the cream on top of the jam. In Devon, one places the cream on the scone, then the jam on top. Personally, I find it much easier to put the cream on top of the jam, so I suppose I’m a Cornish Cream Tea girl all the way. I can’t get too worked up about my allegiance to either county: when it’s something this delicious, who cares?