I love the ritual of afternoon tea–scones and devon cream and little sandwiches in the lull of an afternoon and in the company of a companion. This time, I went to Brown’s, the highly regarded afternoon tea place in the Mayfair district–for many people, afternoon tea is synonymous with Brown’s.
I was honestly disappointed with Brown’s for tea, feeling rather cramped and uncomfortable in their space. While it definitely has an air of history, I was dismayed by the seating arrangements–the two of us were cramped into a seating arrangement that was clearly for four (one of us having to share a loveseat sofa with someone from another party). The sandwiches and pastries were unremarkable–so what’s the big deal?
Still, afternoon tea is quite a delight in my book. When I go to London, afternoon tea is an indulgement that I rediscover–and when I return home, a ritual that I crave for quite some time.
But why crave it? Why not indulge it?
On impulse, I decided to make some scones (the Cheese Board recipe, my favorite!), buy some devon clotted cream, and make little sandwiches. On further impulse, I invited a friend over for afternoon tea.
Click–when things come together, it is quite a wonder. This afternoon, we had an impulse tea, complete with fresh baked scones, devon cream, jam, and little egg salad finger sandwiches. Accompanied, of course, by Mariage Freres’ Marco Polo Rouge (rooibos) tea.
It was a great little break in the day, one that got two friends to sit down, if for a brief moment, to pause and share an enjoyable hour together. Genius.
Why do I not indulge myself more often? You ought to try it, too.
The Cheese Board scone recipe follows…
CHEESE BOARD SCONE RECIPE
Currant Scones (from the Cheese Board cookbook)
“This is the original Cheese Board breakfast scone, and for years it was the only kind of scone … baked. …The production of this scone has changed from its humble beginnings of about sixty scones a day to over six hundred being made on Saturdays.”
Makes 10 to 12 Scones
Preparation time including baking: 45 minutes
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dried currants
3/4 cup heavy cream (you can substitute 2% lowfat milk if you want lower fat content)
3/4 cup buttermilk (you can use lowfat buttermilk)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a large bowl. (or mixing bowl–stir on low speed in the mixing bowl with a paddle attachment for the following steps).
Add the salt and sugar to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or 2 dinner knives until is the size of small peas. Using the spoon, mix in the currants. Make a well in the center and add the cream and buttermilk. Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together; some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl.
Gently shape the dough into balls about 2-1/4 inches in diameter (they should have a rough, rocky exterior) and place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart.
For the topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture on the top of the scones. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.