I like to dedicate this week’s menu to the Queen, I know, but I am not joking. As this Saturday is the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee, it marks 60 years of her reign (let’s raise the glass to the Queen, oh! In this case, a cup of tea!). There will be celebrations all over Great Britain and other commonwealth countries. In order to celebrate this special event with my husband and my daughter (who are both British), I decided to throw a little English afternoon tea Party at home.
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. It was originally a social event for the upper class. Sandwiches, scones and tea were served between 4 and 5 o’clock. But nowadays, afternoon tea is widely enjoyed by everyone. Hotels in London offer fine afternoon tea experiences, such as The Ritz, Claridge’s, The Dorchester and the like.
So in my Jubilee Afternoon Tea menu, there are (of course!) scones and a selection of sandwiches. I have made scones many times with different recipes, and I found that the recipe from Gordon Ramsay (Hooray to the British chef!) is the best so far. It is very simple and within an hour, you can serve oven-fresh scones. Therefore, I will use his scone recipe here. In the recipe, sultanas were used, however I omit them in my scones here. The reason is my daughter only likes the sultanas when they are on their own – how strange! But if your little ones are not so fussy, I think the sultanas actually give the scones a rather nice texture – ‘mouth feeling’ as we Chinese say. I serve my scones with orange and blueberry marmalade alongside with crème fraiche (instead of the clotted cream used traditionally). You can use any type of marmalade you fancy.
Gordon Ramsay’s perfect scones
- 250g self-raising flour (I use plain flour plus 8g baking powder)
- You can replace plain flour with Spelt flour (fein Dinkel Mehl) if you prefer a healthier version.
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- Good pinch of sea salt
- 45g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. caster sugar, plus extra to dust
- 50g sultanas (I omitted them this time)
- 1 large free-range egg
- 100ml ice-cold milk, plus extra to glaze
1. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a large bowl. Add the butter in little pieces and rub it in using the tips of your fingers and lifting the flour up high so you aerate it. When the butter is incorporated the mixture should look like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar, then the sultanas.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg with the milk. Pour about three quarters into the flour mixture and quickly mix together with a large table knife, adding extra egg and milk mixture as necessary to give a soft but not sticky dough. Do not over-mix – the quicker and lighter the mixing the higher your scones will rise.
4. Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and very gently roll with a rolling pin or pat out with your fingers to a 2-2.5cm thickness. Using a 6cm cutter, press out as many rounds as you can (I patted the dough out with my hand and just cut out rounds with the rim of a small glass).
5. Place the rounds on the lined baking sheet, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle lightly with extra sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Slide off on to a wire rack and cool. Serve while still warm
For the sandwiches:
White and brown bread slices
- Ham with butter
- Cheese with butter
- Thinly sliced cucumber on cream cheese
- Egg and mayo mash
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Sliced avocado and cream cheese
You can use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwiches in interesting shapes, perhaps you can also involve your children making them with you.