Afternoon Tea is a special ritual and must be simple but perfect…
First off, we are extremely fussy about preserving the ritual of a proper afternoon tea. After all, it’s not a regular feast and therefore, no room for messing about. The thing is, it’s about dipping spoons into fragrant jams and decadent cream and not faffing around with sticky fingers to open mini jam jars or scrape open pats of butter.
Serving a fresh cream tea is a visual feast as the food is fairly simple, so there is just no excuse for sloppy serving…
So, we have a few basic rules here…nothing to do with etiquette, which is stuffy and dull…afternoon tea as a pleasurable experience, not an endurance test. It is all and only to do with the quality of the food:
- The finest quality ingredients and ideally, homemade.
- As above – quality jam. Nothing seedless or served in a plastic pouch. If you must buy it then min 60% fruit.
- NEVER serve pre-packaged scones (what??).
- Use a good strong English Breakfast tea, preferably loose leaf.
- A soft English sparkling wine works even better than champagne or prosecco.
So, the scones…
Scones will make a or break a good afternoon tea. They should be made as close to the eating as possible and should be light and fresh, not leaden and puddingy.
There are many recipes for scones, but the key thing here is not to overwork the dough. I think there is an old cooking proverb that sagely says something like ‘a good scone is made in a hurry’.
Recipe Yoghurt Scones
There are two techniques that can be used to make these scones irresistible: preheating the baking tray and stacking and pressing out the dough a few times to create mouthwatering, feathery layers.
140g spelt or wholemeal flour
155g plain flour, plus more if needed
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
310g creamy yoghurt
1 Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. Place an ungreased baking tray in the oven.
2 Combine the flours, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Sprinkle the butter across the top of the dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, or until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles. Add the yoghurt and pulse a few more times, until the yoghurt is just incorporated. Avoid overmixing; it’s fine if there are a few dry patches.
3 Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead five times and press into a 2½cm-thick square. Cut in half and stack one on the other. Repeat two more times – flattening and stacking, then cutting. Add more plain flour to prevent sticking when needed.
4 Press or roll out the dough into a 2cm-thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 12 scones.
5 Transfer the scones to the preheated baking tray leaving 1½cm between each scone. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bases are deeply golden and the scones are cooked through. Eat them hot: Whether cream or jam first – your choice!
This recipe is adapted from The Guardian