Hampton Court Palace, reported to be one of Henry the Eighth's favorite residences.
My husband, Chris and I were chaperones on a youth leadership tour in the summer of two thousand-four. The summer skies over Hampton Court were ominous when we arrived.
The teenagers in our group were set on conquering the Maze Garden, an enormous hedge maze. I was intent on avoiding the impending storm by visiting the cafe, a former conservatory, for a spot of afternoon tea.
The optimistic bravado of youth carried the kids toward the maze. We had just poured our piping hot tea when the heavens opened. Minutes later, a raucous group of rain-drenched teens tumbled through the door.
They spotted us, cozy and dry, and began to laugh. After repairing their dignity, (with a stop by the loo,) they joined us with cream tea of their own. We all swooned over the biscuit-like scones served with rich, clotted cream and jam.
Basic recipe adapted in 2004 from Pam Anderson, EatSmart
2 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2. t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 c. dried currants
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream
1 large egg or 1/4 c. egg substitute
2 T. milk
1 t. sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, placing rack in the lower middle of oven. In a medium bowl, blend the dry ingredients. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Crumble butter into dry ingredients with your fingers. It should resemble coarse meal when you are done working it in. Stir in currants.
In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg together until smooth. Add to the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until clumps form. Using your hands, press dough into a large ball.
Place on a lightly floured surface and roll or pat into rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. If making sweet scones, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar, then cut with a small circular biscuit cutter or cut into small squares. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for five minutes on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield 16 -20 small scones.
bacon-cheddar: Omit sugar and currants. Stir in 1/4 c. crumbled bacon and 1/4 c. sharp, grated cheddar.
ham and chive: Omit sugar and currants. Add 2 T. snipped fresh chives and 1/4 c. chopped ham. Brush with milk before baking and top with a little cracked black pepper instead of sugar.
blueberry-rosemary with a lemon glaze: Replace currants with blueberries and add the zest of a lemon and 1 T. fresh rosemary leaves. Stir together 2 T. lemon juice with 1 c. powdered sugar. Drizzle over warm scones before serving.
cherry-almond: replace currants with dried cherries. Add 1/4 c. chopped almonds.
orange-cranberry: This is my fave! Change the currants to dried cranberries. Add the zest of an orange to the dry ingredients. Add 1 T. orange juice to egg and sour cream mixture. Experiment by changing orange zest and juice to Meyer lemon zest and juice for a sweeter, floral-y flavor.
apricot-thyme: Substitute dried apricots for the currants. Add 2 t. fresh thyme leaves to dry ingredients.