Monday 19 March 2012

Blueberry and lemon scones with streusel topping

Afternoon tea.  I love it.  Presented with a beautiful tiered stand, delicately arranged with sandwiches, scones and cakes, all for me to scoff, I go giddy with excitement.  I have sampled afternoon tea at more places around London now than I can possibly remember.  Occasionally, it must be said, it’s been disappointingly underwhelming: dry sandwiches, cold, stale scones and cakes that have left so much to be desired, I’ve wept with dismay (me, drama queen?  Never!); other times, it’s been pure ecstasy, for example, biting into a crispy yet chewy raspberry macaron at the British Museum, savouring the homemade cakes at family-run Allisons, marvelling at the sheer pomp of it all at Claridge's, and feeling as though I’ve been transported to an Alice in Wonderland-type fairy tale in Cocomaya’s quaint little chocolate shop and Orange Pekoe’s cosy little tea room.  In a couple of weeks’ time, I’m booked to go with friends for a chocolate afternoon tea!  If you knew quite how excited merely anticipating this tea is making me, you would think me insane, but then, when it comes to chocolate and cake, I fear my loopiness knows no bounds!

Anyway, I digress.  Mother’s Day has just been and gone and this year I decided, rather than taking my beautiful mummy to afternoon tea, I would bring the afternoon tea to her.  The best part about making it all myself was the licence it gave me to make and eat what I - oops, I mean mum! - wanted, from gooey chocolate brownies and orange marmalade cake to toasted sandwiches on beautiful fresh Mediterranean bread.
For the scones, my inspiration came from my twin who lives in Boston.  She told me about the blueberry scones she ‘occasionally’ (yeah right!) indulges in from a local bakery, which she insisted are simply delicious.  Well, what’s good enough for twinny is good enough for me!  However, rather than using just blueberries, I decided to go a couple of steps further by adding a hint of lemon, and then rounding the scones off with a streusel topping.  The flavours and textures came together beautifully.  Even with clotted cream and jam added into the mix, the lemon and blueberry flavours still came through, and the streusel added a lovely cinnamon-sweet crunch to each bite.  If you are going to make these, I beseech you, ensure you add the lemon and the streusel - believe me, your world will be a happier place for it!

One final note: some people are a bit scared of baking scones for fear that they will turn out too dry or hard.  At a scone-baking demo I once attended (yes, I am that sad), the demonstrator, a lovely but absolutely nutty woman, said she felt that successful scones came from having the confidence and belief they would turn out well.  I think there’s something to this: believe and ye shall achieve!

Adapted from BBC Good Food’s Classic scones.  Streuseltopping from Joy of Baking
For the scones:
Makes approximately 10 scones (using a 6cm cutter)
350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
Zest of 1½ lemons
175ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Squeeze of lemon juice
85g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Milk or one beaten egg for brushing the scones

For the streusel topping:
55g brown sugar
35g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
30g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 200C fan.
To make the scones, place the flour (no need to sift on this occasion) into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, and give it all a quick mix with a spoon.

Add the cubes of butter, and then rub them into the flour mix with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar and then the lemon zest.

Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for about a minute. In the meantime, place a baking sheet in the oven.
Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife.

Scatter some flour onto your work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then, with light hands, pat the dough out into a rectangle about 30cm x 15cm, before then folding it into thirds, like an envelope, bringing the end two thirds in over the middle third.   Pat the dough out into a large rectangle again, then scatter the blueberries over the top, before repeating the folding process, pressing the thirds onto one another lightly so as not to squash the blueberries.  Now pat into a round about 4cm deep.
Take a 5 or 6cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, cutting out nice rounds.  Once you have cut four or five scones, you will need to press what's left of the dough back into a round to cut out further scones.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon into a bowl and mix.  Add the cubes of butter and rub them in with your fingers until crumbly.
Brush the top and sides of each scone with the milk or beaten egg, then lightly press a generous amount of the streusel topping onto each scone, before carefully placing onto the hot baking tray.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden on the top. Eat warm ideally on the day of baking, topped with jam and clotted cream.

1 comment:

  1. This looks amazing! My mouth is watering a little bit!