Tea in the library
… said with an overly posh English accent. My mother used to utter these words when she described my brother’s English accent back in our childhood and teens. We’re not quite sure where it came from. She thought he was only a step away from drinking said tea with his little finger in the air, in true English gentry style. Needless to say, things have moved on since then, I think coffee might be his drink of choice now. As for the accent, it’s still there sometimes, lingering.
Which brings me nicely onto scones. Not your typical English scones but some made with wholemeal flour. And triangular in shape. I know this is blasphemy in some circles. Never mind. I hope you won’t hold it against me.
I read quite a few American food blogs and the book which kept coming up time and again was Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. I’d made the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake which Heidi Swanson adapted for her 101 Cookbooks blog. It was superb. When I brought the cake into the office, I was nearly nominated employee of the week. Of course I am overstating it somewhat but I must convey how good it was. I was sold. So I got the book. Best thing I did. Divided into different sections for rye, spelt, barley, wholegrain etc, it’s got some great and sometimes unusual recipes.
I plumped for the Barley Strawberry Scones only to realise that I couldn’t find barley flour for love, nor money. Large supermarkets didn’t have it. Health food stores didn’t stock it. So I made it with wholemeal flour instead. The recipe also calls for buttermilk. Same story as the barley. I ended up making my own substitute with some full fat milk and lemon juice. It worked perfectly. These scones are best eaten warm. With a cup of tea in the library.
Wholemeal Strawberry Scones
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
For the scones
½ cup of butter (equivalent to 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus more for greasing the baking sheet
1 cup plus 2 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk (if you can’t find it, mix 1 cup full fat milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
1 large egg
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 175 C. Use a little butter to grease a rimmed baking sheet.
Sift the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl, pouring into the bowl any grains that may remain in the sifter. Add the butter, then use your hands to break the butter into pieces the size of grains of rice. The quicker you work, the more solid the butter will remain, which is important.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl, then pour it into the flour mixture and stir until barely combined.
Liberally flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the surface and dust the top of it and your hands with additional flour, folding the dough a few times so it is not sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Flour your hands and pat each piece into a disk 7 inches across and about 3/4-inch thick. Use a pastry scraper to loosen the disks from the work surface.
Spread one disk of dough with the strawberry jam. Place the remaining disk on top, pressing down gently so the dough settles into the jam. Brush the top of the second disk with the melted butter, and then sprinkle it with the sugar.
Use a sharp knife to cut the double-decker disk into 8 equal wedges. Carefully transfer them to the baking sheet, spaced a few inches apart. Bake on the middle rack for 22 to 26 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The scones are ready when their tops are golden brown and some of the jam has bubbled over onto the baking sheet.
Use a metal spatula to transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool slightly (and to stop them from sticking to the sheet as they cool).
Serve warm with clotted cream.