Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God Save the Queen

Today is Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II's actual birthday, and my mom and I decided to make some truly authentic English scones in celebration!

So you already know by now that my family is mostly Irish, but my my maternal grandmother, Nanny, represents our English branch of the family, and my mom's whole family grew up in Canada. Well, last night, she told me the story of when she was a little girl in her hometown of Montreal anticipating a visit from QEII. Her family and many others waved to the Queen as she traveled through town on this special visit, and here is the pin my mom wore in honor of the occasion:

She keeps this pin (and a few other memorabilia) in her dining room next to a framed photo of the Queen. She used these when we were growing up, and my mom was trying to teach me and my two rambunctious brothers our table manners. Whenever we put our elbows on the table, chewed with our mouths open, or used our fingers as utensils, she would point to the framed photo and scold, "What would the QUEEN say!?" If you've ever dined with our family, you can tell that this tactic didn't work that well, ;-) but how adorable is my mom?!?

Dear readers, I also have to tell you that my mom and I firmly believe that we are closely intertwined with the royal bloodline. I will let you be the judge, but doesn't my grandmother Nanny look like the spitting image of the Queen???

The Queen ~***~ Nanny

Okay, so back to the scones. These are the most light, fluffy, and moist scones I have ever tasted outside of the British Isles. What Americans can't seem to understand is that a scone is NOT supposed to be heavy with a texture resembling that of a brick. What you're buying at Starbucks is NOT a scone, dear readers, it's a stone.

Authentic scones are light as air, with a tender, flaky crumb. They melt in your mouth like a slightly sweet biscuit. They don't crunch like a piece of biscotti. I was so excited to find this recipe on Four Obsessions - it comes straight from her "British mum." I substituted cream for milk and shortened the baking time just a tad.

Authentic British Cream Scones
adapted from Four Obsessions

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup dried fruit (optional)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter until it's chunky.

Then use your fingers to flatten the buttery bits into flakes, but don't over-do it. It should not be as fine as cornmeal (like when you're making biscuits) or else your scones will be heavy. Stir in the dried fruit, if desired.

Combine the cream and the egg, beating lightly. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork very lightly. Turn the crumbly dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently 5 to 6 times, just until the dough comes together.

Pat into a circle about 1-1.5 inches thick. Use a sharp knife to cut into 6 wedges. Place the wedges on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes. The tops will turn lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Serve warm with clotted cream, butter, jam, and/or lemon curd.

A note on dried fruit and other additions:
We made our scones plain today because we were so excited about topping them with Devonshire cream on other goodies, but here are some other ideas for additions.
  • Currants are the traditional route for scones.
  • Dried pears with crystallized ginger
  • Dried peaches and dried cranberries
  • Chopped dried cherries (especially good with orange zest)
  • Chopped dried cherries with chocolate chunks
  • Fresh or dried blueberries (especially good with lemon zest)
  • Combination of raisins (golden, dark, etc.)


Kristen616 said...

I loovveee cream scones! These look great...and I love your plates!

What's Cookin Chicago said...

This looks fantastic and your Nanny most certainly does look like the Queen!

Brown Dog Boutique said...

Those scones look amazing! I'm definitely going to have to try the recipe.

And your photos look AMAZING! I think I'm going to have to enlist your help for product photography soon :)

Anonymous said...

These look delicious, and I love the story!

Kerstin said...

What lovely scones! They look delicious and I really enjoyed reading your story too.

Steph said...

Starbucks is overrated. The best scones I had were in England.. those were melt in your mouth tender! Heavy cream definitely makes the difference.

ashley said...

i lovee scones! choc chip are the best! :-)

Southern Aspirations said...

Yay for good yummy scones!

And yes, the Nanny/Queen resemblance is striking!

Shannon said...

Finally a good scone recipe! I wanted to make some lemon curd from these beautiful lemons I have but I needed a good and plain scone to put it on. Thanks.

Also, is clotted cream expensive becuase I always though it was but I am not quite sure..

Emily said...

Where can you find Devonshire cream?


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