As a child, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to start cooking because, at the time, it seemed to be such a grown-up thing to do. It wasn’t too long before I found myself in charge of making dessert every weekend for our Sunday dinners, cooking up a pot of pasta or grains for weekday meals or cleaning vegetables for salads while my mother took care of the more complicated dishes. Over the years, as my skills evolved, I discovered the science in cooking with the help of ATK, made my way into the wonderful world of food blogging and collected cookbooks along the way.
Yet none of this guarantees my being a good cook, “good cook” being a relative term here. I’ve known someone who finished culinary school and went on to work in an office. Then there is this guy, who made a name for himself in the professional world of cooking right out of his home kitchen. Do not discredit yourself because you’ve never tasted it or have never made it before, with enough time and experience (practice, practice, practice!), you can pick up any recipe and know when you’ve nailed it or not. Enter English scones recipe below.
Even though I grew up with my own cultural version of tea time, I think English afternoon tea holds a fascination with many young ladies including myself. The porcelain tea sets, the beautiful tiers of dainty finger foods and the ubiquitous scones - I had to try them! Armed with The Book of Afternoon Tea, my first batch of scones was not very promising; dense, bland, and dry, they had me second guessing whether I wanted to pursue the recipe. I continued to nibble on them throughout the evening and eventually began to see the potential. A bit of background work later, I found that online reviews of various scone recipes were invaluable in revealing what made a good scone, so I got to work.
Cream replaced milk, all-purpose flour (with a proper amount of baking powder) took place of the traditional self-rising flour. An egg and a splash of vanilla worked to enhance the texture and flavor. As for the clotted cream, it is a delicious cross between butter and whipping cream. Tasting of “baked milk” and a bit of nuttiness, the cream takes on a slight caramel flavor with the development of a golden brown crust when cooked uncovered.
After more than one evening of sampling scones, I have no doubt these are as good as the ones served overseas. Start your clotted cream tonight and enjoy a batch of scones with your favorite cup of tea tomorrow.
Afternoon Scones & Clotted Cream
Makes a dozen scones and about 12 oz of clotted cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 tsp water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup dried currants (optional)
For the clotted cream: heat your oven to 180º F. Pour the heavy whipping cream into a shallow baking dish, cover with a lid and place into the oven.
Bake for 12 hours, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight to allow the clotted cream to set.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the thickened cream while leaving the residual liquid (whey) behind. Your clotted cream will simply be a bit runnier if any of the residual liquid is combined with the cream you scoop out.
Place the clotted cream into a container with a tight fitting lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. The residual liquid can be used in place of milk in other baking (such as in the scones recipe below).
For the scones: beat 1 large egg until homogenous. Measure out 1 Tbsp of the beaten egg and combine with 1 tsp of water in a separate cup. Combine the remaining beaten egg (about 4 Tbsp) with the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Heat your oven to 425º F and flour your baking sheet (or line it with parchment). In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
Add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Using a pastry cutter and/or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until the flour mixture resembles soft sand.
Stir in the sugar and dried currants (if using). Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the heavy cream/egg mixture into it. Using a spatula, stir the the liquid gently, incorporating the flour, going around the bowl until there are no dry ingredients left and a clumpy dough has formed.
Transfer the loose dough onto your work surface and gently gather and press the dough together until it forms into a cohesive ball. Roll the dough out into a 1/4” thick and using a cookie or biscuit cutter about 2” in diameter, punch out as many scones as will fit. Transfer the cut scones onto your prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash.
Gently push together the leftover pieces of dough, roll out 1/4” thick and cut out more scones. Repeat this as many times as necessary in order to use up the remaining dough. These scones might not rise as well as the first ones but they will be just as delicious.
Bake scones for 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Once baked, you can cool them on a wire rack for a few minutes or directly on the serving tray.
Serve with clotted cream, your choice of jams or preserves and hot tea.