Afternoon Tea Scones

Warm scones - the best and most homely tea time treat!

Warm scones – the best and most homely tea time treat!

Has anyone been watching Mary Berry’s new cooking programme, Mary Berry Cooks? The episodes are quite short and sweet, with a different occasion to cook for every time and the recipes are quite simple and family-orientated. The afternoon tea episode instilled an instant craving in me for a lovely fluffy scone, so I whipped some up that very afternoon, and had afternoon tea on my own (in the afternoon, in case you didn’t get that) just to fulfill that craving.

Ingredients ready to go.

Ingredients ready to go.

I prefer my scones with sultanas in, but of course you can leave them out – in fact Mary’s recipe is for plain scones – and I think they probably rise a little better without the fruit weighing the dough down. That’s not to say these aren’t light; they are, and so delicious still warm out the oven with a bit of butter and strawberry jam. IN the episode Mary makes her own jam to go with the scones; feel free to do that if you have a lot of time and strawberries on your hands!

Ingredients

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 40g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • about 100ml milk

Step 1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Step 2. Break an egg into a measuring jug, beat together and make it up to 100ml with milk. Set aside a tablespoon of the milk and egg mixture to glaze the scones later.

Step 3. Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients, stirring until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out to a thick round (I think mine were a couple of cm deep). Cut rounds out of the dough, being careful not to twist the cutter or the scones won’t rise evenly. Keep gently pressing the trimmings together and cutting out rounds until the dough is used up.

Step 4. Pop the scones on a non-stick or greased baking tray, brush the tops lightly with the egg and milk glaze and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until light golden on top and well risen. TIP: when glazing the scones, don’t let the liquid drip down the sides of the scone – it stops them rising as well.

Step 5. Cool on a wire rack then serve with jam, butter, cream and a lazy sunny afternoon!

Mmmmm.

Mmmmm.

 

**Notes**

This is such a simple recipe, I don’t really have any notes! Ooh, except if you want to add glace cherries or sultanas, I put in about 100g I think (a couple of small handfuls) and make sure you wash the syrup off glace cherries and pat them dry before including in a mixture so they don’t all sink to the bottom. Catch ya later alligator x

Source: Mary Berry Cooks…Afternoon Tea (written recipe on BBC Food, ‘Mary’s tea time scones’)

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Call myself an English Literature student…

It has come to my attention (thank you mum) that I referred to my rounded chopping board and knife as a ‘mezzanine’ in my last post…I have since realised that a mezzanine is not, in fact, a kitchen implement, but an architectural term meaning an intermediate floor, usually in the form of a balcony, between the main levels of a building. What I actually meant was mezzaluna. I’m pretty sure I’ve done that in an earlier post as well, possibly the Cardamom Loaf one…I will go back and edit those prontissimo. Excuse my ignorance, dear readers! There’s your food fact for today, anyway; I can’t distinguish between cooking aids and parts of a building. Hope you all had a lovely weekend x

Banana Chai Cupcakes

I love using these pretty cupcake cases - they make the cakes look even more appealing!

I love using these pretty cupcake cases – they make the cakes look even more appealing!

Good morning! I hope the transition from February to March (and from winter to spring by the looks of things here!) has been very pleasant and appropriately filled with baked treats for you all – apologies for the lack of communication lately! I haven’t been very well, nothing serious, but it did take it out of me for a while, plus I think I’d underestimated how hard my final term was going to be. I will be awash with deadlines very soon so I can’t promise to post frequently, but when I get a bit of time to bake I will certainly share the results here 🙂 Oh and the Foodie Facts will be making a re-appearance too, not daily for the moment, but as and when I find useful/interesting/wacky tidbits I’ll pop them up.

So, Banana Chai Cupcakes, sounds pretty exciting right?! The idea, I have to disclaim, was not mine, but the recipe sort of is. Yesterday that rare and beautiful thing happened where I experimented with patchworking different bits of recipes together and the result was actually a resounding success! It will depend on personal taste of course, but I love the subtle mix of spices along with the sweet banana flavour in these cakes. The texture is really wonderful as well; the cupcakes are so light and fluffy, despite the mixture being quite wet, with a perfectly risen and crusted sugary top.

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I also tried this as a loaf, which worked absolutely fine. I do prefer the cupcakes personally, however, just for their size and the contrast between the fluffy insides and crispy muffin top! Please don’t be put off by the amount of spices the recipe calls for. You can decide what spices you want to include anyway; I browsed lots of chai tea and spiced cake recipes to create my blend, and will probably make alterations next time I make these to find the perfect combo. My other tip is go to a wholesale oriental foods store! I found one ages ago and bought masses of spices – they’re so much cheaper in bulk, and if you store them carefully (airtight containers, dry cupboards) they do last. Plus its fascinating to look around stores like that, and I picked up a bamboo steamer for £1.50, so look out for bargains!

Grinding up spices on the mezzaluna.

Grinding up spices on the mezzaluna.

Sorry again for the long silence before now, and I hope this delicious recipe is to your taste – slightly unusual, but all the more impressive for that when it eats as well as this do!

Ingredients

For the spice mix:

  • 4 cloves (or ¼ tsp ground cloves)
  • 2 black peppercorns, ground
  • ¼ tsp ground star anise OR fennel seed
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom seeds (about 3 pods worth)
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the cake mixture:

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 10 oz sugar (¼ brown rest white)
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp strong black tea
  • 10 oz self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

*I realise this recipe is in ounces; its an old one my mum was given and I haven’t tried it with metric measures as my scales can weigh in ounces as well as grams. If yours don’t then you can easily convert the measurements here:  Metric Conversions (They’re not all whole numbers which is why I didn’t put the grams up – will test at some point and see what gram measurements work best!)

Step 1. Grind up all the spices together. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar (I don’t) fear not; you can chop the cardamom, fennel seed/star anise, peppercorns and cloves down to a fine sand with patience and a good knife. I used a mezzaluna (see photo above) but a large sharp knife and a good chopping board will work similarly well. Or you can buy them ground, but whole spices do keep better – they don’t dry out and lose as much flavour as pre-chopped or ground spices do.

Step 2. Mash the banana in a bowl (not the mixing bowl) til soft then combine thoroughly with your spice mix. In a big mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Then, one ingredient at a time, beat in the spiced banana mush, eggs, vanilla essence, golden syrup and tea. I usually add a tablespoon or so of flour with the eggs so the mixture doesn’t curdle.

Step 3. Add the flour and bicarb of soda and mix thoroughly into the wet ingredients. Now either drop into cupcake cases (fill them about three quarters full) or turn into a loaf tin. The tin needs to be non-stick, or greased and lined with baking paper. This mixture made 6 cupcakes and 1 loaf for me.

Step 4. If making cupcakes, bake for 30-35 minutes at 170C/Gas Mark 4. For a loaf, bake at the same temperature but for 40-45 minutes. When the top is springy to touch and a skewer (or a piece of uncooked spaghetti) inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out with only a few tiny moist crumbs on – if its completely clean the cake may be too dry – the cake(s) are ready. Leave to cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight tin. Banana cake usually keeps well for a good few days as its quite moist.

**Notes**

The ingredients list says to use a quarter (i.e. 2.5 ounces) brown sugar to three quarters white – this was the ratio I happened to have in my cupboards as I was running out of brown sugar. I’ve made banana cake with all  brown and all white sugar before and its been fine; use whatever ratio you prefer, though the 1/4 brown to 3/4 white did work well for the cupcakes. I think that’s everything really; as I said before, use trial and error for your own spice mix to see what suits your tastes. Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did!

Sources: Betty Crocker ‘Chai Cake’ recipe, my mum’s banana cake recipe, various chai tea and spiced cake recipes.

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Til next time x