Happy birthday, blog! Happy release day, The Antique Love!
Today sees publication of both my hundredth blog post and my second novel, The Antique Love. I don’t know which one of these two I’m more excited about! (Well, yes I do. Actually it’s The Antique Love….but shush, don’t let the blog know it came in second!)
I’ve been racking my brains for the past few days trying to think how to celebrate these two milestones, and then I thought, what do you talk about most on this blog? And the answer came pretty quickly. Tea and cake. Yep, pretty much every time I have a guest, tea and cake will feature somewhere.
So, since my blog is one hundred, my book is about antiques, and I’m quite old (!), I thought I’d turn to one of Britain’s oldest cookery books to tell me how to make a traditional English scone, and celebrate by having high tea!
In 1861 Mrs Beeton published her famous Book of household Management, and it became an instant bestseller. I always thought Isabella Beeton was quite old, but in fact she was only 24 when the book was published, and she died at the age of 28. Here’s to you then, Mrs Beeton, and thank you for your recipe.
A scone, in case you’ve never had one, is a small, round, white cake, which you cut in half and spread with butter. If you want to start a heated discussion in England, ask a group of people how to pronounce “scone”. Personally, I say scone rhymes with “gone”. There are very many other (totally misguided) people who say scone rhymes with “bone” – but they are wrong. And I am right, because this is my blog :)
Now that’s enough chatter, and here’s Mrs Beeton’s famous recipe:
- butter for greasing
- 225 g / 8 oz self-raising flour
- large pinch salt
- 25-50 g / 1-2 oz butter or margarine
- 125-150 ml / 4-5 fl oz milk
- flour for kneading
- milk or beaten egg to glaze (optional)
Grease a baking sheet. Set the oven at 220 deg C / 425 deg F / gas 7. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine, then mix to a soft dough with the milk, using a round-bladed knife. Knead very lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
Roll or pat out the dough to about 1cm / half inch thick and cut into rounds, using a 6cm / 2 and a half inch cutter. Re-roll the trimings and re-cut.
Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk or beaten egg, if liked. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool.
It’s a deceptively simple recipe. Note Mrs Beeton says to knead very lightly. It’s easy to turn out dry, overbaked and overworked scones if you’re not careful.
These scones are very plain, and are improved massively by cutting in half, spreading with butter and jam (jelly) and adding a good dollop of very thick cream. Delicious! Make a big pot of tea, add a jug of milk, and these are all the ingredients you need for a traditional English cream tea.
If you try Mrs Beeton’s recipe, please come back and let me know. And if you read The Antique Love, please let me know if you enjoyed it! (Available as an ebook from Amazon US, Amazon UK, B&N, my publishers Muse, and all sorts of other e-tailers!)
What’s your favourite cake recipe? Do you like tea, or do you prefer coffee? Or neither? And most importantly, how do you say “scone”? I’d love to hear from you!