From London With Love: Five-Star Afternoon Tea at Home

(Emily Goldfischer)

While we are staying home, and hopefully staying safe, it’s hard not to miss the thrills of exploring new countries or the comfort of visiting our most cherished cities. One of our favorite things about London, that we suggest to first-time visitors and aficionados alike is the tradition of Afternoon Tea at a luxury hotel. Yet, before the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, we had never tried to prepare this beloved meal at home. Turns out, not only is it surprisingly easy and delicious, the smell of scones in the oven is simply transformative. 

Most scone recipes are fairly similar and include flour, butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and either buttermilk or milk with a spritz of lemon juice.  You will need a two-inch round cutter (or the top of a glass will do). Serve with jam of your choice and butter (or clotted cream if you can find it; we couldn’t in London).

Plain Scones by by Mark Perkins, executive pastry chef of Rosewood London

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams soft flour
  • 25 grams baking powder
  • 5 grams salt
  • 120 grams sugar
  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 150 grams buttermilk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

Preparation:

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt
  2. Rub the butter into the flour with your hands until everything is combined
  3. Mix eggs and buttermilk together; add to the flour and mix until a dough is formed
  4. Dust the work surface with flour and gently work the dough until a smooth consistency is created
  5. Roll the dough to 1.5 centimeters thick
  6. Cut out using a floured pastry cutter
  7. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment
  8. Brush each scone with egg yolk (try not to get any drips down the sides of the scone)
  9. Rest in the fridge for one hour
  10. Brush each scone with egg yolk a second time
  11. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes

Fruity Scones by Adam Smith, executive chef at Coworth Park  

Ingredients:

  • 525 grams plain flour
  • 85 grams sugar
  • 85 grams butter
  • 25 grams baking powder
  • 320 grams buttermilk
  • 100 grams raisins
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 egg (to make egg wash use one egg and 1 tablespoon cold water)

 Preparation:

  1. Mix cold butter, sugar, flour and baking powder rubbing together by hand (approximately six to eight minutes)
  2. Add 90 percent of the buttermilk and mix with a spoon for further eight minutes, check and see if last 10 percent is needed
  3. Add in the raisins and grate the apple into the mix and combine
  4. Roll the dough to 4 centimeters thick, then fold the dough back onto itself, flip it upside down and roll again to 4 centimeters high
  5. Stamp out the scones with a two-inch round cutter, brush with the egg wash
  6. Place these onto a greased baking tray and leave to prove for 20 to 30 minutes
  7. Cook at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then serve straight away with clotted cream and any flavor jam you have.

Due to lockdown, we only had self-raising flour on hand and tried this recipe from the five-star Landal Gwel an Mor in Cornwall, another area in England renowned for scones and cream tea. Find the recipe here.

Vegan Scones from The Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)
  • 50 grams soy/vegan butter
  • 100 milliliters soy/plant-based milk
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • Dried fruit (raisins and apricots—as much as you like)

Preparation:                                             

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a baking tray or line with parchment
  2. Mix flour, salt and soy butter and rub together until they resemble breadcrumbs; stir in sugar
  3. Gradually mix in the soy milk, bit by bit; leave some milk for brushing over the top (for the fruit scones: when the mixture becomes a dough, stir in the dried fruit)
  4. Roll out the dough and divide into balls; place balls on the prepared tray
  5. Bake until just golden, normally 10 to 25 minutes

True to form, we prepared and precisely cut crustless sandwiches, filling ours with smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and soft cheese, and mozzarella and pesto—but anything you like and have on hand will do.  Don’t forget to serve with hot tea and a flute of champagne if you’re really going for it. Enjoy!

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