One of the traditional tea time foods remains the humble and lovable scone. No matter how you enjoy it, a scone is the ultimate treat to enjoy with tea. There are two basic types: sweet (the most popular) and savory. There are also types peculiar to certain locations, most notably British-style and American-style.
British vs. American Styles
British scones are lighter and fluffier, more like our American baking-powder biscuits. They also might contain oats and currants. They are usually not too sweet and will definitely not have a sugar coating on top, the way many American kinds do. British scones are meant to hold clotted cream and preserves (and even some butter, according to some aficionados). And they are definitely meant to be served with tea.
American scones can be complete until themselves, needing no clotted cream or other toppings, and therefore being more like a dessert pastry. They tend to be a bit sweet and have different added flavorings: fruits, nuts, chocolate, and spices are the main ones. The style here is free, shaped anyway the maker wants, and with no tradition to have to follow. Thus, there is an American-style scone for every taste. Many think this is a tragedy while others find it wonderful.
Scones are ideal due to their ease of preparation. You can whip up a batch on pretty short notice. Flour is the base ingredient, with baking powder, sugar, butter, and egg yolks. There are lots of recipes but a mix, like the ones from Sticky Fingers Bakery (my personal favorite), is even better. Add water, mix well, plop on a baking sheet, stick ’em into a pre-heated oven, and set the timer. Use that baking time to steep up a strong pot of breakfast blend tea.
Scones make great holders for dollops of clotted cream and spoonfuls of fruit preserves. Some scone eaters consider this the only reason to eat them and can get into heated arguments about which to plop on that scone first. Scones can be pretty tasty by themselves, especially the kind with various fruits in the mix. Anything from apricots, blueberries, and cherries, to dates, figs, currants, raisins, etc. You can use other toppings on scones, including butter, chutneys (especially ones that tend toward the sweet side like those made of mango), and even various spreads like cream cheese and peanut butter. The sky – and your palate – is the limit.
Scones elongate teatime, with their very warmth, aroma, and flavor that say, “Slow down. Enjoy me!” Followed by a full gulp of Assam or Scottish Breakfast tea smoothed with milk and sweetener, the experience is complete.
So, why are you still sitting there? Get baking, and don’t forget to steep that pot of tea!
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