I began my summer scone adventure with a "no problem" attitude. What could be so hard about making a scone?
Little did I know that hurdle number one is defining scone. The British say that a scone is a small, usually rather plain pastry that is traditionally served with clotted cream and sliced strawberries, jam or lemon curd and tea. A proper scone might have currants or raisins added in honor of a holiday celebration. Otherwise they are plain so that the clotted cream and sliced berries and tea might be better appreciated.
Scones are not devoured at a red light with a travel mug of bitter roast to wash it down. They are a sit down affair. A savory finger sandwich, small cakes, and a perfectly steeped pot of tea will often be served along with the scone. The scone will not be sliced and slathered with butter and jam like a biscuit but will be torn into a bite sized piece and topped with a small spoon of clotted cream or jam. Eat the decorated piece in one bite. Eating a scone slowly like this will force the consumer to relax and truly taste the goodness of a scone while sipping the tea. The tea will be poured from a lovely teapot into a delicate teacup.
The finger sandwiches and small cakes might have great flavors and might be a bit more complex but the scone and tea, are the foundation of a relaxing afternoon tea. The scone is not a biscuit; it is not cakey; it is not a blank canvas for a million and one add-ins. The scone is deceptively simple and unassuming but challenging to mix and bake just right.
The Kitchen challenges you to try some simple recipes and practice with simplicity until you have created a tender crumbed, not cakey or sandy, scone. It will require quite a lot of practice to turn out the perfect scone but it is worth every bite.
And remember. Please remember that the pastries with a complex flavor profile of many add-ins can be delicious and they can be snarfed at a red light and washed down with a bitter brew but these pastries are not scones.