Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tea fit for an Empress

All of my regular readers here know how proud I am of my British-Canadian heritage. That said, I am probably one of the few Canadians left who whole-heartedly embrace the "Victoria" in what most simply call our "May 2-4 Weekend". For my American readers, this is the weekend when many Canucks beetle off to open their cottages up North, and ceremoniously crack open a "2-4" of good, strong Canadian beer.

Not THIS family, however.

We stay at home (though we do indulge in a few bottles of our favourite beer: Stratford Ale), and usually take great delight in slogging away in the garden. When the long weekend actually falls when it's supposed to (on-or-around the twenty-fourth of May), it is the first weekend when I actually feel safe enough to plant anything. Being in a "Zone 5" location, my mother's sage advice of "NOTHING before the end of May!!" has never failed me.

This weekend, however, it is raining. And while that seldom stops me from going out in my wellies and a raincoat to have a good dig with my garden fork, the combination of wet-and-COLD has enticed me to stay indoors this afternoon. (My ancestors would be ashamed of me, I know.)

But, what better way to spend a dark and dreary Sunday, than to whip up a great big batch of scones-- the recipe courtesy of the glorious Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia?! On Friday, I purchased a large (read: EXPENSIVE) pot of clotted cream (also known as "Devonshire Cream") to go along with home-made jam... This afternoon, the girlies and I will have tea, in honour of the holiday.

I flatter myself that even though I am still wearing my grubby overalls-- in the faint hope that a ray of sunshine will eventually break through the clouds later on today-- Queen Victoria would have heartily approved of our celebration.

The Empress Hotel's Scones

**This is an English recipe, and uses a food weight-scale for measurement.**

2 lb, 4 oz flour
9 oz sugar
9 oz butter
2 oz baking powder
8 oz raisins
6 eggs
16 oz whipping cream
a pinch of salt

Mix together the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt with a pastry cutter, until it is the size of small peas. Add the eggs, one-by-one, and mix. Add the raisins. Then, add the cream, and mix until the dough is smooth.

Roll out the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness, and cut out the scones to the desired size.

Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and lightly brush the tops with egg-wash (I beat up a bit of egg-and-water, or you can use egg-and-milk... This just helps to brown the tops and give them a bit of shine).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes about 35 regular-sized scones.

Top with butter, jam, and a big dollop of fresh cream...

Put the kettle on!


shawn said...

Yummy !!!! The scone recipe is delightful - a fav in OUR house too!!!

But I HAVE to ask - what kind of tea did you indulge in with the scones, clotted cream and jam???

Murchies' Empress Blend??

Twinings' Earl Grey ??

I KNOW it wouldn't be anything by Lipton's, Red Rose or Tetleys ...

Happy Vickie Day !!!

Candygirlflies said...

Actually... Tetley's "Yellow Label" is quite good, and is my parents' tea-of-choice.

Since I know you wouldn't believe me if I told you that I now drink Lapsang Souchong (yeouuggghhhhh...)

I confess to being partial to an Irish Breakfast tea, "Bewley's", which I can get at our little local grocer's shop.

It doesn't have to be high-fallootin' to be good!!

xo CGF

shawn said...

"Doesn't have to be high-falootin' to be good!!"

True enough ... Having given up caffeine I have found Tetley's various decaf teas (especially the green teas) are very good and are my usual choice for a cuppa in the afternoon at work !!

BUT - Lapsang Souchong !?!?!? I still shudder at the thought ... something that smells like charcoal ... hope it tastes better than it smells !!!!! (Oh the joy of memories !!!)I may have to revisit this though and ty it with a more "mature" palate !!


Leeann said...

Scones....oh....that sounds delightful! I'm coming up next year! :)

mrinz said...

Dilmah is the tea of choice here at the moment. Twinings is popular also.

Love the scone recipe - it is a little different from he one usually used here, ours has no eggs.

Are they still called scones in Canada? I had a feeling that, in the States anyway, they are called 'biscuits'. Which amuses us here as biscuits are hard and round, more like American 'cookies'.

Hope that you had a happy Victoria day.

Candygirlflies said...

Hi, Mrinz--

Yes, we still call them "scones" over here, although I believe most Americans pronounce the word with a long "o" sound (I do not).

Here in North America, "biscuits" are somewhat lighter, and slightly more savoury than scones. Many of our baking powder biscuit recipes include things like shredded cheese, or little bits of ham in them... Quite delicious. In the southern United States, biscuits are often accompanied by a heavenly elixir called "white gravy", which may be hardening to the arteries, but MY GOD... the taste is simply divine.

Of course, to the English, a biscuit is a "cookie"... It's all very confusing.

The heavy cream, sugar and eggs in this scone recipe makes them sweet and slightly cake-ier, I think.

Oh, and BTW... I made an error, above, about my parents' tea-of-choice **cringe**!! Yellow Label tea is actually made by Lipton's, not Tetley. Quite unforgivable of me. Apologies to anyone who is attempting to find it today...

xo CGF

Ps. We are having a wonderful Victoria Day-- I have been "massacre-ing" 10-foot rocket juniper bushes outside (according to my husband, who is always alarmed by my violent pruning technique). I despise junipers, and am more than slightly allergic to them. I've got "trimmings" stuck all over me, and am off for a long, hot shower before I develop a nasty rash! The hedges look MUCH improved, though, so it is worth all the effort!!

mrinz said...

Yes - very satisfying to have a good hack back of offending plants!

And, I am always faintly surprised when they grow back much improved in shape and thickness.

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

You always make the best tea--that's been no secret--I never used to drink tea until I met you and admittedly, the last time I drank it was probably with you at your place--but it was darn good tea.

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