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Sunday, June 21, 2009

CAFE SPECIAL OF THE WEEK - World's Best Scones!

A week or so ago I read The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows). Oh my! Just a delightful book, set in London and on Guernsey, one of the Channel Isles. Written entirely in correspondence, it was an unusual presentation of story, but one which drew me in at once. The year is 1946 and educated me to a fascinating portion of WW II history I was previously unaware of—the German Occupation of Guernsey. I highly recommend this book, and because Potato Peel Pie is not considered all that tasty a recipe, I thought you might prefer to make a batch of scones and curl up with this yummy book.

World's Best Scones!
From Scotland to the Savoy in London to the U.S.
READY IN: 35 Min
Makes 8 scones

* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it is in pea sized lumps. Stir in the currants. Mix together 1/2 cup milk and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended. Overworking the dough results in terrible scones!

3. With floured hands, pat scone dough into balls 2 to 3 inches across, depending on what size you want. Place onto a greased baking sheet, and flatten lightly. Let the scones barely touch each other. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Let them rest for about 10 minutes.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown, not deep brown. Break each scone apart, or slice in half. Serve with butter or clotted cream and a selection of jams - or even plain.

Tip: Scones can be reheated if not eaten promptly by wrapping in aluminum foil and heating in oven until heated through or split in half and toasted.

Easy Clotted Cream
"A tasty alternative to the real thing. Heavy cream is lightly sweetened, whipped until stiff, and mixed with a little sour cream for flavor. Serve with scones or fruit."

* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar


Using a whisk attachment on the mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Remove from mixer, and hand whisk in the sour cream and confectioners' sugar until just combined. Store in refrigerator.

Note: Real clotted cream is not readily available in the US. The best clotted cream is, of course, in Britain, but this should satisfy your taste buds. Just close your eyes and pretend you’re having high tea at the Savoy in London or one of the country hotels that dot the British landscape.

Now for all the purists out there or those who like to learn useful tidbits, I found this explanation about clotted cream.

Clotted cream is a thick yellow cream made by heating unpasteurized cow's milk and then leaving it in shallow pans for several hours. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms 'clots'.

Clotted cream is generally served as part of a cream tea (known as a Devonshire Cream Tea in Devon) on (warm) scones with strawberry or raspberry jam. In Devon, the cream is traditionally used instead of butter, with the jam spread on top of the cream; in Cornwall the jam is spread first because the runny substrate of Cornish clotted cream would make the Devonian method of service impossible to achieve without looking messy.

While there is no doubt of its strong association with South West England, it is not clear whether clotted cream first originated in Devon or Cornwall. While strong claims have been made on behalf of both there is a lack of documentary evidence to support them.

So, what are you reading lately? Anyone read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society? What are you waiting for?


Camille Cannon Eide said...

We made your Lemonade Pie for Father's day and it was a huge hit - thanks! These scones look great. I have a friend who caters teas and has a recipe for scones but yours is a little different, so I'll definintely try it. Her mock devonshire cream uses cream cheese instead of sour, so I must try this too. The book is one I hear raved about and haven't read, so thanks for the reminder.

I am eagerly looking forward to Chasing Lilacs, Ms. Carla!! I'm not sure I've seen anything about that book mentioned here . . .

carla stewart said...

Hey Camille, So glad you tried the lemonade pie and that your family liked it. We had one too!

We had high tea when we were in England years ago, and I still remember the clotted cream as being divine. Hope yours turns out.

About Chasing Lilacs--I did blog about my contract, the title change, etc. Am still waiting on the final cover so I can splash it all over my blog and website. I'm as impatient as you are.

Janice Campbell said...


I really enjoy your blog, but this recipe is driving me straight to the kitchen and I'm supposed to be writing. Was that nice;-)?

Seriously, it looks good. I'm looking forward to your book. Have you read Emyl Jenkins 'Stealing with Style'? Her protagonist is an antiques appraiser, and I enjoyed the plot and characters.

Janice Campbell
National Association of Independent Writers and Editors

Koala Bear Writer said...

Hmmm... I'm drooling. My mom used to make scones regularly (usually raisin) and I can just taste them now. I haven't had them in ages.

Erica Vetsch said...

I love current favorite is orange cranberry.

I'll have to try this recipe.

carla stewart said...

Janice, thanks so much for the compliment. You are welcome here anytime. How did the scones turn out?

Koala friend, don't you love when food is associated with great memories? What a great mom to make scones :-)

Erica, Orange-cranberry? Sounds yummy!