Sorry about that - I did not mean to disappear for over a week! But there have been guests from India, guests from Italy and a road trip along the east/south coast of England that have kept me busy and away from this site. But I'm back! And I have brought something quintessentially English with me: scones. But before I get to them, let me briefly talk about what I learnt while I was gone.
It's very easy to rent a car, travel without an agenda and have an incredibly fun time.
The English coast is beautiful. The English towns are lovely. And don't get me started on the sheep, flowers, and skies.
I learned that owls are kissable (but still really, really scare me), that there are streets named Beer Cart Lane, and that, if you want to eat dinner or lunch, you better be at the pub between 12pm and 2pm or 7pm and 9pm, respectively, or you will end up with nothing.
I learned that fish and chips taste even better when you eat them while staring out into the sea.
And I learned that my cousins and I are definitely related, no question (okay, I kind of knew that). Because when, at the end of the trip, we were talking about our favorite moment - all three of us agreed: breakfast at Tiny Tims Tearoom. Tiny Tims was such a lovely little place, so warm and welcoming, and offered a delicious variety of home-baked goods as well as a wide selection of teas. We ate warm strawberry blackberry scones with butter and home made jam, drank rooibos tea and talked about the day ahead. It was the perfect way to start it.
Interestingly enough, I have never been much of a scone person, and though I did debate briefly, I decided I had to order one (it just seems like the thing to do when you are eating breakfast in a cute little English town). And I am so happy I did. In fact, their strawberry blackberry scones just left me yearning for more. And I decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to start baking my own scones. As soon as I got back I started my research - I found a highly rated scone recipe on the British Good Food website, swapped the milk and lemon for buttermilk, added a half a cup of sliced strawberries, a half a cup of blackberries and a little bit more flour.
And you know what? Much to my surprise and happiness - these scones rival those of Tiny Tim's Tearoom.
They might even be better. These scones are everything I dream up a scone to be - and then some. Especially when eaten warm, straight from the oven with some butter and strawberry jam from the Kentish Pine Trees Farm.
In fact, these are so good I do believe these will motivate you to get up in the morning just so you can eat them. And I also believe these totally make up for my absence last week. Ahem.
Strawberry blackberry scones
Tips for successful scone making:
The key to the sky high scones is that you pat the dough out a bit thicker than you think you should - about 4cm // 1.6in thick. Also, when cutting out scones with a round pastry cutter (about 5cm // 2in), put the cutter into the dough and take it out - without twisting or turing it. That way the scones will keep their shape.
Try not to work the dough too much - it will become tough.
Use the dough immediately and help the scones' rise with a pre-heated, hot baking tray!
Scones are best eaten warm out of the oven on the day they were made, but you can also freeze baked scones once they are completely cooled off and defrost them at 160°C for a few minutes.
350g // around 2 3/4 cups of self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
85g // 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
175ml // 3/4 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of thinly sliced strawberries
1/2 cup of blackberries
1 egg, beaten to glaze
Preheat oven to 220°C//430°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper but don't place it into the oven yet.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add butter, and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers, until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in sugar.
Heat buttermilk until just warm (not hot!), add vanilla. Set aside for a moment and put the prepared baking sheet in the oven.
Make a well in the dry mix and pour in the buttermilk. Using a cutlery knife quickly combine the mixture. Add the berries and stir once or twice more.
Dip out mix onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour top of the dough and your hands, then fold dough over 2 to 3 times until it's a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm thick.
Take a cutter (about 5cm) and cut into dough, without twisting or turing. Repeat - you'll get about 4 scones out of the round. Press the remaining dough into another round and cut out another four. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, then place the scones onto the hot baking tray.
Bake for 10 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Eat warm from the oven, with some butter (or clotted cream) and jam. And tea.