In case you missed it, this week is Afternoon Tea Week. I’m a BIG fan of both tea and afternoon tea, but I also love this week as it’s an excuse (not that I need one) for a little bit of light baking.
I still find the process of baking one of the most therapeutic things to do in the kitchen. Especially as when I bake it’s normally for pure pleasure rather than work-related. I’m also still fascinated by the alchemy of baking: the mixing together of different ingredients and flavours, smelling them as they develop in the oven, and then the delight of the first bite of the resulting beautiful bake. Mmmm.
One of the first things I learned to bake with my mum was scones and it was an extra treat when we went out for Devonshire Tea (aka a Cream Tea) when we were growing up. As we were in Oz, it was before I discovered the delights of clotted cream – however a big splodge of strawberry jam and thick whipped cream was still totally delicious.
Since then I have made many, many scones. A light touch and cold butter is key, but don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time round. That just means having fun trying them again!
This is my non-traditional scone recipe with a few extra zingy flavours thrown in. These are delicious with any tea of choice, so make sure you give yourself a little quiet and calm to fully enjoy the experience!
(And for tips on creating a DIY afternoon tea experience – check out my suggestions at the bottom of my article from 2016.)
Earl Grey Spelt Scones
50g sultanas or raisins
1 mug of hot, freshly brewed Earl Grey tea
275 g white spelt flour
75g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tsp baking powder
40g coconut sugar
1/4 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
125ml milk, plus 15ml (1 tbsp) for the glaze
40ml Earl Grey tea, reserved from the drained sultanas (keep what’s leftover for a cup of iced tea with a squeeze of lemon juice and a touch of honey)
1. Pop the sultanas into a small heatproof bowl and pour the hot tea over them. Leave them to sit for about 15 minutes and then strain (keeping the tea). While they are soaking, pre-heat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) and line a tray with baking paper.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Drop in the butter, rubbing it in lightly with just your fingertips until everything is just combined and the mixture looks a bit like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, salt and lemon zest, mixing gently into the flour crumbs, followed by the sultanas.
3. Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in the milk and 25ml (just under 2 tablespoons) of the reserved tea. Mix everything lightly with a flat bladed knife to form a sticky-ish dough. You may need to bring it together a little with your hands.
4. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and very, very gently knead for 15-20 seconds (you don’t want to overwork this or your scones will be a bit stodgy). Pat out the dough to about 3cm thick. Cut into rounds with a floured 5cm cutter or the rim of a small glass. Make sure you just press down and don’t twist. Place the rounds onto the prepared baking tray. Gently press together the leftover dough and cut again until it’s all used up.
5. Mix the extra milk and 15ml (1 tbsp) of the reserved tea together, and brush over the scones. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the scones are lightly golden and well risen. Take out of the oven and pop on a wire rack.
These are best served warm with lots of organic butter or a big dollop of clotted cream!
Other flavour options
– Swap the raisins for dried cranberries
– Add a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
– Sprinkle some sunflower seeds over the top over the scones before you put them in the oven
– Use wholemeal spelt flour; the scones won’t be quite as fluffy, but still delicious!