Tomorrow I look forward to creating and sharing an Afternoon Tea with several members of my family. Today, I gathered the necessary ingredients to prepare finger sandwiches and tiny sweets, and I bought a three tier server that goes well with my white porcelain teapot and tea cups. I also picked up the ingredients to make scones.
Afternoon tea became such a delightful break each afternoon while in Scotland. Mindy and I looked forward to it, and Harry tolerated and indulged us! Back home, I have continued to have tea every afternoon. It is a great way to slow down, gather my thoughts and refresh. I’ve fixed finger sandwiches and have primarily relied on store bought or restaurant goodies to complete tea time.
While in Scotland, I purchased a traditional recipe book, intending to learn how to make tea time treats and other delectable dishes myself. Today I decided to make scones for my first and share them tomorrow with my family.
The scone, which in Scotland is pronounced to rhyme with “gone”, is a Scottish bread that first appeared in the 1500’s. There are variations on the origin of the name, from a Dutch word that means “beautiful bread” to the treat being named after the Stone of Destiny, upon which every Scottish king has been crowned. Whatever its name origin, the first scones were made of Scottish oats and cooked on a griddle. Later, after the invention of the oven, the scones were traditionally made of flour, instead of oats, and baked. Scones are very like American biscuits, and served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, butter or can even be enjoyed with cheeses or meats. Although they can contain currants, raisins or other dried berries, they are often served plain.
Scones became a popular and essential part of afternoon tea when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), ordered tea late one afternoon and requested sweet breads as well. The serving girl brought in a selection of breads, including scones. The Duchess enjoyed the tea time so much that she continued the practice each afternoon, eventually inviting her friends to join her. The ritual of afternoon tea was established, and continues in the United Kingdom still, and is most commonly enjoyed between 2:00 – 4:00.
Using the recipe in my Traditional Scottish Recipes book, I created my first batch of scones this evening. The sound of bagpipes accompanied my efforts, as my iPod played softly nearby. Although the recipe was simple, and very similar to making biscuits, the author states that it takes practice to make a good scone. I was a bit nervous as my first scones came out of the oven. Their aroma preceded them, and they smelled wonderful. They weren’t quite as tall as the scones I had in Scotland, but I will keep working to perfect the technique of quickly and lightly handling the dough.
Although these are for tomorrow’s tea, I had to sample one. I broke a hot, fresh scone in two, dabbed a bit of butter on it and added a smear of strawberry jam. Bliss. I smiled. And I realized as I was standing in my kitchen, enjoying a scone and listening to Celtic music, that an amazing shift had taken place. The last time I made Scottish shortbread, I had also listened to bagpipes as I worked, and daydreamed of the day I’d visit Scotland. Tonight, as I worked, with the aroma of scones and the wail of bagpipes filling my kitchen, I didn’t daydream of Scotland, I remembered…..remembered being there, remembered cozy afternoons having tea, remembered so much more. The dreaming had transitioned into memories. I am so incredibly grateful.