Sunday, June 7, 2009

Teatime Treats! The Best Scones, Plus Cuke Sandwiches

They're the quintessential afternoon tea nibbles -- scones and cucumber sandwiches. Beverly (i.e. the Queen of Scones) calls this recipe The Best Scones, and they really are. They're the flakiest, tenderest, moistest scones you'll ever have. And why not round them out with some tiny sandwiches, and a cuppa English Breakfast, Assam, or Ceylon?

I halved this scone recipe for our household of two, but you can probably freeze some right before they go into the oven and bake them up on demand. I also halved the amount of salt, but whether you do the same is up to you. Check out the flaky layers of this baby.

The Best Scones by Beverly
4 cups all-purpose
2 tbs baking powder
2 tsp salt
¾ lb. cold unsalted butter, diced (that's 3 sticks)
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water or milk, for egg wash, Or use cream
Raisins or currants (I used ½ cup)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can also make this in a food processor with the metal blade like I did, or by hand with a pastry blender. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and cream together, and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Mix in the raisins or currants.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead just until it comes together. Roll the dough ¾ inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles, or any shape you desire. Brush the tops with cream. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat for 18 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Makes 16 scones.

This is my thrown-together cucumber sandwich recipe.

Cucumber Sandwiches
1 cucumber, peeled
6 slices bread
2 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
½ tsp salt
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

You'll need a vegetable peeler, paper towels, and a tall biscuit cutter.

Cut the crusts off the bread. You can freeze them in a zip-top bag to make breadcrumbs out of. Holding the cucumber so it stands vertically on a cutting board, use the peeler to shave off thick slices of cucumber, until you get to the seedy part. Discard the seedy core. Lay the cucumber on paper towels to soak up excess moisture, so your sandwiches don't get soggy.

Stir the salt, parsley, and chives into the softened cream cheese. Spread the mixture onto the bread slices, then top with the layers of cucumber. You can leave them open-faced or top them with another slice of bread. Cut them into triangles, or use a biscuit cutter to cut out little teatime-sized rounds. The cutter has to be tall enough that it won't get lost in the sandwich, and sharp enough to cut through.

Scatter some chives over the tops for garnish. Keep the sandwiches covered so they don't dry out.

1 comment:

  1. What beauties! I wish I hadn't just made up a batch of scones, so I could try this recipe. Hope you'll post the ginger scones soon! Love the sandwiches... I usually go with dill or mint in mine, but will have to give chives a try.


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