Sunday, 9 October 2011

perfect for afternoon tea: simple fruit scones

With three french ladies invited for a traditional afternoon I did not want to disappoint. On the menu; cute finger sandwiches of salmon, egg and mayonnaise with chives, and cucumber with cream cheese. The carrot cake - a special request from one of the ladies who had not tasted it since a trip to London years ago, was made, as were the cup cakes and white chocolate muffins. There was only the scones to make, but having my watched my mam magic these up in a flash, I had left them until last.

I got ready all the ingredients and only then did I realise that I was out of baking powder - not easily found in your local Parisian supermarket so I had to leg it to WH Smith - yes you read correctly, in Paris WH Smith stocks a lot more than books! I went in to by a €3 tub of baking powder (no, not a misprint, it is in fact over €3) and came out with 2 books, whole earth organic crunchie peanut butter, 2 books and a tin of heinz organic baked beans! Over €40 exchanged hands....all for some scones for a traditional afternoon tea.

The scones were a big hit and worth the fuss for the baking powder. Himself said they were almost as good as Maggie's (my mam) but not quite...I blame the non availability of buttermilk in Paris and the fact that my supermarket does not stock Kerrygold!

Here is my recipe - buttermilk is better than ordinary milk if you can find it, and the sugar is optional. Personally I prefer mine without and load up on the jam.

You will need: 450g plain flour, 20g baking powder, 30g caster sugar, pinch of salt, 75g of very cold butter (straight from the fridge and cut in cubes) , 2 eggs, 200ml of milk (or butter milk) and 100g of raisins or mix of raisins and confit cherries (cut in half).

Put flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and raisins in a bowl and mix. Rub in the butter - if you have warm hands it is better to use a Knife to cut the butter into the flour mix. I use a stainless steel mixing bowl which I chill in the fridge for 30 mins before using. It may be my imagination but I find this gives a lighter scone. The mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs at this stage.

Next beat the eggs and the milk together with a fork. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour some of the egg and milk mixture into the bowl and gentles work into the dry mixture with one hand. You should not need all of the liquid - yo want to create a dough which just comes together without being too wet. Once you have the desired consistency turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead.

Roll out dough using a floured rolling pin until approx 4/5cm thick. Remember always roll from the middle of the pastry and to turn the pastry regularly when rolling.

Then using a 5 cm cookie cutter (I use a small water glass) cut into the dough to make between 10 and 12 scones. Lay the scones on a lightly floured baking tray.

If there is any liquid left over the use this to glaze the scones, otherwise brush them over with some milk. Then bake in a preheated over (230°c) for about 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Once out of the oven leave to cool on a wire rack.

Delicious served with cream and homemade jam or just as I do; still warm with a good layer of Kerry cold butter and a cup of Barry's tea. On a drizzly day in Paris, I can almost believe I am at home.

Photos to follow - the ones that were not quickly gobbled up - left in doggie bags.

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