Last month, before I disappeared down a hole of non-stop photoshoots and later, tonsillitis, my lovely friends Kate, Polly and I found ourselves in the heart of Soho drinking loose leaf tea and eating scones. Is there anything girlier than a cream tea? Especially one served in what can only be described as the inside of a giant pink marshmallow. It was so much fun to break out a pretty, girly dress and high heels and spend an afternoon catching up with such charming and talented ladies.
Afternoon Tea originated almost 200 years ago, when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would invite her friend over to indulge in a late afternoon snack and steaming beverage. Within a few decades its popularity exploded, and it had become the ritualistic collection of decadent cakes, dainty sandwiches and clinking china that we recognise today.
In London, your average afternoon tea will set you back around £50, which is a little out of my budget. Luckily scones are the easiest things in the world to make. In under half an hour you can have a plate of warm scones waiting to be slathered in jam and clotted cream and a house perfumed with the welcoming scent of freshly baked goods to greet your guests. Dust off your teapot and you are half way there to hosting your own high tea without having to battle crowds of tourists.
I was going to share with you the recipe for the blackberry chai seed jam I served with the scones. While the recipe theoretically worked, the out of season fruit was bland, so I couldn’t test how much sugar to add. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. I can’t wait to try it again in the summer as it was such a quick and mess-free way to make a delicious and healthy jam.
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110g self raising flour
pinch of salt
10g caster sugar
zest of half a lemon
leaves of 2 sprigs of lemon thyme, regular thyme will work here too
1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar, zest and lemon thyme until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and there is no lumps of butter left.
- Stir through the milk until you get a soft crumbly dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface.
- Knead the dough until it comes together. Try not to over knead it, as soon as it sticks together it is ready to be shaped.
- Lightly dust a rolling pin and then roll the dough about until it’s about an 2cm thick. Using a 5cm round cutter, cut out the dough and place the rounds on a baking tray. Repeat until you have used all your dough.
- Brush the scones with an egg glaze and place in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, and move the hot scones to a cooling rack until they are still warm, but not too hot to handle. Serve with clotted cream and jam.