Articles for the Month of July 2013

Where Have the Reviews Gone?

I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted a tea room review, and unfortunately it might be another few…but I promise it’s for a good reason!

See a few weeks ago I decided that it was finally time to go back to graduate school, which means that I am currently cramming for a big standardized test known as the dreaded GRE. Tea facts are usually a quick little write-up, and recipes go hand in hand with baking being one of my big stress relievers, but writing the reviews takes up quite a bit of study time. So I’m sorry for the missing reviews, but I also promise they’ll be back soon!

555230_662815340418741_755615740_nSee? I even have another tea room visited while I was in Laguna Beach, just haven’t has the chance to write it up. But know that I’m hard at work for all of us!

xoxo

Recipe: Vanilla Dream Scones

When I first made these scones and posted the recipe on my previous blog, I was briefly considering opening up a bakery after my college graduation. This was to be my vanilla scone recipe, but they needed a cute name. After all, the bakery was going to called The Cream Tea Bakery or something cutesy and British, therefore scones needed cutesy names as well. I had already made Almond Bliss scones and Butter-Me-Up scones, Peanut Butter Coma Cupcakes (which I promise to eventually make/photograph/post), and Wistful Pom cupcakes (also an eventual post) must-dos on my future menu and they had appropriate names.

IMG_3733So I reached out to my Facebook friends and former dance partner/fellow baker for name ideas. I loved the idea of calling them Antique Scones because of the old-fashioned style of my photos, but after being told that no one would want to eat scones whose name suggested they might be stale, we decided on Vanilla Dream scones to complement Almond Bliss.

IMG_3726Alas the bakery idea was short lived, but these scones and their Vanilla Dreams will live on in home bakers’ ovens everywhere. They are wonderfully creamy and melt in your mouth like sugar on your tongue, yet they are not overly sweet. The vanilla bean makes these perfect for a special occasion, or maybe just a day that needs a little extra dreaming.

Vanilla Dream Scones

Vanilla Dream Scones

Vanilla Dream Scones

Ingredients

  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 50 g ultrafine sugar or vanilla sugar if you happen to have some on hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 scraped vanilla bean
  • 200 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 220°C (450°F). Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla and mascarpone. Rub the mascarpone into the dry ingredients until evenly clumped. Add the water a little bit at a time and then knead into the dough.
Place dough on a very floured surface and knead a few more times. Pat out to 1 cm thick. Cut 5 cm rounds from the dough with biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reform and continue until there is no more dough. Dough may disappear from being eaten by baker and/or baker’s mother. Bake for 6-8 minutes (8) until lightly browned and cooked through.
Serve with whipped cream and strawberries or clotted cream and strawberry jam.
These scones are very delicate, so you may want to make them thicker and bigger so they can better hold up their toppings. I just always make my scones the same height and width for consistency in baking times as well as comparisons between recipes. Feel free to change either and adjust the baking time as needed. IMG_3728

Tea in Other Languages

royal-baby-cambridge-2British baby fever has hit! Quick, grab your thermometer, your fuzzy sweaters and woolen socks, and let’s sweat this fever out of our bodies before Kate Middleton gets pregnant with baby #2.

With what seems like the whole world utterly obsessed with the British Royal Family right now, I have a hunch that afternoon tea parties will have a brief flaring of popularity. After all, everything British is fashionable for the next few minutes and what is more British than afternoon tea?

So no matter in what country you find yourself partaking of afternoon tea, here is how to at least pronounce your favorite beverage in their native languages:

  • Afrikaans: tee
  • Albanian: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Arabic: chai or shai
  • Armenian: te
  • Azerbaijani: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Basque: tea
  • Belarusian: harbatu
  • Bengali/Bangla: cha
  • Bulgarian: chai
  • Catalan: té
  • Chinese (Cantonese): cha
  • Chinese (Mandarin): cha (second tone / pronounced with the “a” in a rising tone)
  • Croatian: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Czech: caj (pronounced cha-i)
  • Danish: te
  • Dutch: thee
  • English: tea
  • Esperanto: teo
  • Filipino/Tagalog: tsaa
  • Finnish: tee
  • French: le thé (masculine)
  • Galician: té
  • Georgian: chai
  • German: der Tee (masculine; the “T” is capitalized because all German nouns are capitalized)
  • Greek: tsai
  • Haitian Creole: té
  • Hebrew: teh
  • Hindichai
  • Hungarian: tea (plural: teak)
  • Irish: tae
  • Italian: te (pronounced teh)
  • Icelandic: te
  • Indonesian: teh
  • Japanese: o-cha (o- is used as a prefix meaning “honorable” and -cha is used to mean “tea” in various tea names, such as matchasencha and hojicha)
  • Korean: cha

  • Latvian: teja (pronounced tay-ya)
  • Lithuanian: arbata
  • Luxembourgish: Téi (like in German, all nouns are capitalized in Luxembourish)
  • Macedonian: chaj (pronounced chai)
  • Malay: teh
  • Maltese: te
  • Norwegian: te
  • Persian: chay (pronounced chai in most areas)
  • Polish: herbata
  • Portuguese: cha (pronounced shah with a Brazilian accent)
  • Romanian: ceai
  • Russian: chai
  • Serbian: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): thé (The word for teapot is actually a Dutch loanword. It is theepot.)
  • Slovak: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Slovenian: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Somali: shaah
  • Spanish: el té (masculine; pronounced tay)
  • Swahili: chai (pronounced cha-i)
  • Swedish: te
  • Taiwanese: de (boba naicha refers to Taiwan’s popular “tapioca pearl tea”)
  • Tamil (Sri Lanka): tea
  • Thai: chah (chah yen refers to Thai iced tea)
  • Tibetan: cha or ja
  • Turkish: cay (pronounced chai)
  • Ukrainian: chaj (pronounced chay)
  • Urdu: chai
  • (North) Vietnamese: che
  • (South) Vietnamese: tra (sometimes pronounced cha or ja)
  • Wolof: achai (pronounced uh-chuy)
  • Welsh: te
  • Yiddish: tey
  • Zulu: itiye

So drink up me hearties, yo ho, no matter where in the world Carmen Sandiego is!

Let’s blame that close out on sleep deprivation shall we?

Recipe: Mulberry and Elderflower Scones

Sunday is our local Farmer’s Market. It is my favorite part of Sundays, strolling through the loop of fruits and vegetables, stopping by the McLarens stand to buy jam at, debating over the fresh baked breads, visiting a few of my regular fruit suppliers and discussing how their wares are today. Are the raspberries tart? How about the blackberries? Do they have Gaviota strawberries this week?

One of the coolest parts about interacting with the growers is discovering new produce and bouncing off ideas about how to use it in the kitchen (or in my case the oven!). Take a few weeks ago: Mom and I have a “Berry Lady”. The same woman sells us blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries every week. She knows that I am the only one who eats the reds and that we prefer the blues small if we are planning on cooking with them, large if we are not. She knows that none of us like tart fruit, so warn us ahead of time. Somehow she also knew that I would like mulberries.

I’ve heard of but never seen mulberries before, but there was a very small amount available so based on the Berry Lady’s recommendation, I bought a little basket. And she was right, I loved them. Mulberries are a more subtle, understated berry; their flavor is a blend of sweetness and earthiness. Mom described them as tasting organic, though I didn’t know that organic was a tasting note as well as a farming method 😉

The challenge came with figuring out what to do with a whole basket of mulberries. My flavor book had no mention of mulberries and I had obviously never cooked with them before, so I was pretty much at a loss. I knew that apart from eating raw, I wanted to make them into scones (face it, I want to make everything into scones), but making a simple cream scone and adding mulberries was too simple. I wanted interesting! I wanted unique! I wanted…a drink.

Kidding. Yet I did have a suspicion that elderflower might blend well with the “organic” taste of mulberries, and the only elderflower product I have ever seen in my town is St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Guess we really are liquoring up for these scones!

Trust me on these!

Trust me on these!

These were an incredible success. Sophisticated, elegant, and totally unique, mulberry-elderflower scones are the perfect use for a berry that you have never seen in real life. They spread more than they rise, but they are so moist and delicately flavored that breaking them in half and covering with cream would basically be a crime. Some scones are perfect plain, and these are one of those few.

So if you have a Berry Lady, and next time you see her she happens to have mulberries, take your tastebuds on an adventure and try these scones. Your horizons will be widened forever.

Mulberry and Elderflower Scones

Mulberry and Elderflower Scones

Mulberry and Elderflower Scones

Ingredients

  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50 g ultrafine sugar
  • 1 cup chopped mulberries
  • 1/4 cup St. Germain liqueur
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add mulberries and toss.
In a small bowl, combine the liqueur and heavy whipping cream, mixing well. Slowly add liquid to the flour mixture, beginning to knead to form a dough. Be careful not to crush the mulberries. Dough will be very moist.
Turn out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead a few more times to incorporate a little more flour. Pat down to desired thickness (1 cm). Using a floured (5 cm) scone cutter, cut out scones and place them on the baking sheet. Knead remaining dough together again and repeat cutting out process.
Bake for 8 minutes until the tops are beginning to brown. Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool.
*Forgive the terrible and almost creepy pictures. The lighting was terrible and this was my fifth shoot of the day. My styling ideas were not on point by that time!*

Recipe: Cucumber Scone Finger Sandwiches

Afternoon tea is steeped in tradition; one of those traditions seems to be offering cucumber sandwiches as a savory option. The quality of a tearoom sometimes hinges on this one little morsel.

And I love cucumber sandwiches. They are by far one of the things I look most forward to when sitting down to tea. Sometimes they are completely nondescript Wonder Bread and cream cheese, but sometimes you have a revelation of pickled cucumbers or dill cream cheese that is nearly transcendent.

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

So when a few weeks ago I finally perfected the recipe for Lemon Thyme Basil Scones (weren’t those sooooo good?) I had a lightbulb moment: could I make these into cucumber sandwiches? How great a twist on a classic would that be, the savory herbs blending with the sweet, crisp cucumber. I could almost taste it, mouth suddenly parched from desire of wanting that ultimate refreshment.

I practically ran to my refrigerator and found a glorious cucumber…and a lack of cream cheese. *Head smack* But I wouldn’t give up, hopping in my car to drive to the grocery store and buy the smallest container of cream cheese I could find. The checkout lady gave me a weird look and say,”Don’t you want a bagel with that?” “No,” I responded. “I have scones.” Let her contemplate that one with confusion all day!

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

Ingredients assembled, I took a bite into my first open-faced sandwich. Yeah, it worked beautifully. No bagel or Wonder Bread required.

These bite sized open faced sandwiches are the perfect choice for afternoon tea. Not only are they unique yet classical, but they also show off your scone-making skills in a whole new light. A scone turned into a sandwich? What could be better than that other than more scones?

Lemon Thyme and Basil Cucumber Scone Sandwiches

 

 

 

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

Lemon Thyme Basil Cucumber Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped lemon thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • full fat cream cheese (do not use herbed cream cheese as that would overwhelm the scones)
  • thick slices of fresh cucumber

Preheat oven 450°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Mix in fresh herbs.
Break up butter by running it through a cheese grater. Rub into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and knead until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth.
Turn out onto floured surface (this can be lightly floured as the dough is pretty self-contained) and pat down to desired thickness (1 cm). Cut out into scones (5 cm) and place on baking sheet. Recombine scraps and continue cutting out additional scones. Bake for 8 minutes until beginning to toast on the edges. Turn out to cool on a wire rack immediately.

Once cooled, cut each scone in half. Top each half with a smear of cream cheese and a slice of cucumber. Serve these super light and refreshing savories to all enjoyment.

Another Story of Milk: Does Order Matter?

Turns out the debate over the order of doing adding things to afternoon tea doesn’t stop at clotted cream, jam, and scones; the proper sequence for pouring milk into a teacup is also hotly contested. It may be a relaxing pastime, but who said afternoon tea didn’t have its complexities?

 

Nice Tea Has Milk First

Photo Credit www.antiques.com

Photo Credit www.antiques.com

We already know that milk made its emergence into the tea world partly to temper the hot water so porcelain cups didn’t shatter. The Milk-In-First camp believes that adding tea to milk instead of the other way around makes for a better mixing of the fluids. Also adding cold tea to hot water can caramelize the fat in milk and possibly alter the flavor of the brew. Of course bringing the milk to room temperature or heating it up may fix that. It’s a lot like tempering your eggs before making a custard.

 

Second the Best

Photo Credit Mark Harris www.mostphotos.com

Photo Credit Mark Harris www.mostphotos.com

Tea originated as a beverage for the genteel, so it is only natural that there be considered a “proper” way to add milk to this drink. Etiquette supports adding milk to the tea as it allows better control of the color and strength of the cup. The Victorian upper circle tea parties involved the hostess or servants handing filled teacups to guests who were then directed to help themselves to milk, cream, or sugar to their taste.

Also, by adding the milk to the tea, you have the opportunity to try the drink first to determine if it even needs any milk. There is nothing worse than wasting or ruining a perfectly delightful cuppa.

 

No Milk Is the Best Milk

IMG_3725Now most of this debate centers around black tea. It is an understood rule of tea aficionados that you do NOT add milk to green, oolong, or white tea. Pu-erh is close to black tea so that is acceptable. Why? Because it ruins the delicate taste of the leaves and added flavorings. Black tea is the strongest type of tea and can withstand the flavor dilution of milk. Tisanes are also a big no-no when it comes to adding milk. As most tisanes have fruit in their mix, the milk can actually curdle if poured into a too tart tisane. Curdled milk is just gross.

 

Science Says

Science is no help here. Half the scientists point to the possibility of caramelized milk fat ruining the flavor of the tea as reason for milk first; the other half of the scientists cite the laws of thermal gradients supporting milk in last.

 

The verdict? Just like the arguments over clotted cream first or jam first and whether or not to even add milk at all, The Great Milk Order Debate will have to be determined by your own personal preferences!

Question!

What is your milk-order preference? I pour my milk in second because I can have the most control over the strength of my tea, and I am a little bit of a control freak. But many of my British friends insist on milk first!

Review: Teaism in Washington, DC

I was on vacation! As many tearooms as I have found and intend on visiting all around Los Angeles, it was exciting to have the chance to expand to another coast. And surely with Washington DC being closer to England than is LA, afternoon tea would be a common find.

Teaism Penn Quarter

Teaism Penn Quarter

Not so much.

But I was able to find an Asian tearoom just north of the Mall for a quickie review. Teaism was conveniently located, yet there was the one hiccup of my dad and brother being along for the trip and they were adamant that I was not dragging them along to an afternoon tea. I told them it was for a good cause—you—but they continued to refuse. So due to time constraints, I was only able to pop in for a glass of tea and a scone taste; even from this seemingly meager sampling, though, I think I got the measure of the place.

 

First Impressions and Service

I had to relook at my map because this store didn’t seem like a tearoom that serves afternoon tea. I mean, there was a takeaway counter and the menu printed above the cashier. Eventually I saw the stairs leading down, so although I doubt there is a formal dining room a la Langham Pasadena, there is probably enough seating there to serve the proper number of courses.

I can see it being a popular lunch spot.

I can see it being a popular lunch spot.

Nothing was what I expected at all. You have to order at a counter and they call out your number when your food is ready. I don’t know if that is how they serve afternoon tea as well, but for a make-our-own cream tea the kitchen rang a bell when our scones were plated. Service is pretty nondescript. I asked a few question; the cashier made adequate answers. There was no warmth to the place at all.

 

Décor

There is a second floor below; maybe it's more formal?

There is a second floor below; maybe it’s more formal?

Everything is painted in nice, cheerful colors of yellows and oranges, pleasant but not too much as to burn your retinas. Bright woods and gray stone complement the design. The main room is laid out just like you would expect in a lunch café: basic tables and chairs spread out with no real rhyme or reason. The menu is in removable slats above the cashier and doesn’t have any descriptions of what you are eating; they have printed menus that are more detailed. Despite being an Asian tearoom, nothing is over-the-top Asian decoration. It just looks like a nice escape from the humidity of DC.

 

Tea Selection

They have a fair number of teas (and also beer and wine if your interested) in all the major categories. They put more of an emphasis on straight, nonflavored teas but there are some options if you prefer a taste of something other than straight Silver Needle. Everyday they offer unlimited refills of a house chosen black tea, green tea, and tisane. Washington DC was ridiculously humid so Mom and I both went with the Berry Tisane.

Daily Special: Unlimited Berry Tisane

Daily Special: Unlimited Berry Tisane

Lightly sweetened and mildly tart, the berry drink was so refreshing it was perfect. Of course, at that point anything iced might have made our taste buds do a happy dance. We attempted to be objective and both agreed that the dash of lime was very brightening and enjoyable.

 

Food

They offer an extensive meal menu, very PanAsian cuisine. For afternoon teas served only between 2:30-5:30, there is an Asian menu and a traditional menu. Again due to time constraints we couldn’t partake in a full service, so we stuck with tasting their only two scone flavors: ginger and carrot cake.

That’s right, no plain or cranberry scones here. No clotted cream either, you are served with butter and orange marmalade and honey. The ginger scone was rather bitter, not like the ginger scone from The Scarlet Tea Room, and texturally tasted like the scones had been baked the day before. Stale and crumbly, this scone was left abandoned on our plate after only a few bites. We just discovered that we like ginger scones, so it was quite a disappointment.

Ginger Scone; Carrot Cake Scone

Ginger Scone; Carrot Cake Scone

The carrot cake scone at least tasted fresh and moist. And it did taste like a cross between a carrot cake and a scone. I know, you say duh isn’t that the point? But so many baked goods or candies that are supposed to taste like a different type of baked good or sweet just don’t come close. These did. They weren’t overly sweet, had just enough spice to evoke carrot cake, and there were actual shreds of carrots in them. I think that carrot cake requires cream cheese frosting, so this might have actually gone well with clotted cream (or just give me cream cheese frosting in an IV and I’ll take care of the rest).

 

It may seem like saying we are glad we didn’t come for a full afternoon tea is a hasty answer, but between the unwelcoming staff, fast-food fast-meal atmosphere, and only one good scone, we doubt that an afternoon tea here would’ve been anything special. But some of their lunch offerings sounded tasty so I’d be willing to try the full service just for the experience.

 

Visit Teasim at 400 8th St. NW, Washington DC, 20004 (202) 638-6010.

 

Recipe: Cream Scones

Let’s take a one week break from creative combinations and untraditional flavors. Eventually (meaning once I’ve had my fill of experimenting) I am planning on doing a whole series of plain or sultana/currant scone recipes. Every book about tea or scones has its own version of the basic scone. So I have a lot of recipes to try out to find the perfect and most authentic plain British scone!

And for consistency’s sake, I also have authentic British scones in my freezer to compare during this eventual series, courtesy of Ye Olde King’s Head.

IMG_3654But for now, let’s take this week easy and laid back. These cream scones are one of my current go-to recipes for trying new mix-in as they lend well to sweets with their slightly salty taste. They are also hands-down my plain scone recipe known to convert non-scone lovers to willing-scone eaters. When giving these scones to tasters used to American scones, though, be sure to express the caveat that these are more like British scones, less sweet and more vehicles for clotted cream and jam.

Of course if you serve these with authentic clotted cream and jam, even the pickiest scone eater won’t be able to resist.

Sometimes we just need an easy scone, a simple scone, and in those moments reach for this four ingredient recipe and relax in the perfect blend of flour, sugar, and cream.

Cream Scones

Cream Scones

Cream Scones

Ingredients

  • 200 g self rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 50 g ultrafine baking sugar
  • 150 mL heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 220°C (450°F). Place rack as high as possible in oven. Sift flour and salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the sugar and 150 mL cream then work in by hand by rubbing in the cream trying to incorporate as much air as possible until fully mixed. DO NOT OVERMIX. If the mix is too dry, now add one tablespoon at a time of extra cream until the dough is wet enough to hold together.
Place dough on a heavily floured surface and knead a couple of times until relatively smooth. Dust top with more flour and pat down to desired height (we did 1 cm). Cut out 5 cm circles with a crimped circle cutter and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. HINT: dip the cutter in flour before cutting out each scone. Knead the extras back together and repeat until most of the dough is used up.
Bake for 6-8 minutes (we did 8) until they have risen and are slightly browned around the edges and on top. Serve with clotted cream if you are lucky enough to be in England or have made it out to Santa Monica, but with red fruit jam no matter where you are.IMG_3650

To Milk or Not To Milk?

The question of whether or not to add milk to your tea can get quite contentious. It seems a simple matter of taste and preference—if you like tea with milk add it and if not leave it out—but as with the proper order of clotted cream and jam topping a scone, the milk or no milk debaters believe it goes far beyond the taste buds.

History of Adding Milk

Painting by Alexander Rossi bestartpainting.com

Painting by Alexander Rossi bestartpainting.com

Milk tea or taking tea with a dairy product has a history that stretches back to the Asian origins of tea (apparently some Asian cultures used to add butter to tea), but milk tea is considered different than adding milk to tea.  When tea first came to Europe, it was sipped with no dairy additions. It wasn’t until the 17th century that adding milk to tea was first being mentioned by upperclass tea drinkers.

Tea historians (what an awesome job) have given two reasons for milk’s emergence. The most common theory is that milk and cream were found to soften the bitter taste of black teas. The second theory has nothing to do with flavor or health, but rather with china. Porcelain (you thought I meant the country China! Made you double-take J) can crack when boiling water is poured into the bottom of a cup, so Madame de La Sabliére of France introduced pouring milk into the cup before the hot tea to prevent her fine porcelain from cracking or breaking during her literary salon meetings. Doing so also allowed the tea to be drunk more comfortably.

Adding Milk Subtracts Health Benefits

Photo Credit illakiyaa.wordpress.com

Photo Credit illakiyaa.wordpress.com

The anti-milk tea league points to scientific studies that suggest that milk takes away from the health benefits of drinking tea. A 2006 study by the Germans showed that adding milk to tea prevents its ability to protect one from heart disease. Black tea has been found to help heart functioning and long term artery health, but milk may bind with the catechin in tea and stop the benefits. The no-milkers also believe that adding milk to tea increases insulin activity (in lab rat studies) and degrades its antioxidant potential.

But adding milk to black tea is more common than adding milk to green tea, and green tea is the kind associated with more health benefits including higher levels of catechins and antioxidants.

No Harm, No Cow

IMG_0479Adding milk has shown some positive health benefits for those pro-dairy tea drinkers. The proteins in milk may line the stomach enough to help prevent some of the acids in tea from contributing to stomach ulcers. And we always need more calcium for healthy bones, hair, and nails! What good is a pinky out from a tea cup if it doesn’t look nice?

People who support adding milk to tea say that the decrease in health benefits are not all that significant or that it doesn’t do as much damage as some scientists would have us believe. For them, it comes down to a matter of taste. If black teas taste better with milk, why not indulge in a little splash? After all, teatime is all about allowing yourself the finer things in life.

I personally add milk to my teas that are not fruit flavored: Earl Grey (yes I know bergamot is a citrus), Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride at Christmas, chai, and some rooibos teas. But unless the flavoring in a fruit tea includes vanilla, I keep my milk jug to the side.

Question!

How do you take your tea and why? Is it all about the health benefits for you, or do you care more about taste than antioxidant levels?

Recipe: Honey, Blueberry, White Cheddar Scones

Honey, Blueberry, White Cheddar Scones

Two weeks of savory scones, is it time to return to our sweet friends? If so, this is the perfect scone to make that transition. A combination of sweet and a touch of savory to not shock the system after two weeks of salt and umami, Honey, Blueberry, White Cheddar Scones may sound like a risky bake, but they are a risk well worth taking.

Part of the fun of developing my own scone recipes is coming up with combinations that I’ve never seen before. As I’ve said, my inspiration really comes from just about anywhere (hence always carrying a little notebook around with me) but I don’t always know how to add that little extra twist to create a truly unique scone. Enter The Flavor Bible. I simply choose an ingredient, turn to its entry, and am presented with other foods and tastes that the world’s master chefs have determined are complementary. I am fascinated by the pairings they come up with; I would easily spend hours pouring over its pages in wonderment. What goes well with plums? Bay leaves apparently.

IMG_4307This scone started by delving into flavor compatibility for honey. I’m excited for the other flavors to come that involve honey, but this affinity combination caught my eye: honey + blueberries + cheddar cheese. And hmmm…I got blueberries at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday and I have that English Coastal Cheddar I used for my Beer and Cheddar Scones…idea perhaps?

Success for sure. I found a recipe for a fig and honey scone and then modified the heck out of it to incorporate the blueberries and the cheese. The end result was a first-pitch home run! The texture was perfect, the scones risen yet sturdy, the flavors melding together in a way I never expected. Each bite starts out sweet and almost florally from the honey before a subtle shock of the earthy cheddar. Well, now that I consider it, the cheddar is less earthy and more…oceany? It has a sense of belonging to a briny and salty coastline (and not just because its name is Coastal!) that I never anticipated harmonizing with the sweet blueberries and the floral honey. But it does. And it does so unassumingly and unusually, but undeniably.

Honey, Blueberry, White Cheddar Scones

Honey, Blueberry, White Cheddar Scones

Honey, Blueberry, and White Cheddar Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3 tbsp ultrafine sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup English white cheddar (we used Coastal Cheddar from Costco)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet (maybe two) with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together bread flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Toss in cheese and blueberries and mix until well distributed. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine honey with 2 tablespoons cream, stirring well. Add honey mixture to flour mixture and begin to knead together. One tablespoon at a time, add the remaining cream until a dough has formed that can hold together. We used a total of 3/4 cup of cream.
On a floured surface, turn out kneaded dough and pat down to desired thickness (1 cm). Use a flour dipped scone cutter (5 cm) to cut and place scones on baking sheets. Knead together excess dough and repeat. Bake for 8 minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown. Remove immediately to a wire rack to cool.
IMG_4316You could probably top this with honey or maybe a honey butter (I do not recommend cream or jam with a scone that has more than two flavors and this has three) but that might throw off the balance of the three flavors. Feel free to try and report back! I love hearing about other people’s experiences and experiments.
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