When we were children, my sisters and I loved to play tea party. (That is not a completely true statement since we still love to play tea party. ) We had lovely little tea sets hand painted with forget-me-not flowers and with our friends we would dress up and pretend to be proper (or our version of what we thought proper was.)
Scones never made an appearance at those early parties (I actually cannot recall what our menus consisted of) but for me a fresh baked scone with tea is pretty close to perfection. When my sisters and I go out to tea now, one of the things I look forward to are the scones. Yes, there are some sugary sweet delights to be had at all kinds of coffee houses, but they are nothing in comparison to the buttery, light, flaky heaven that these are. These scones are in the "British style" because they do not have a glaze. I promise, you won't miss it.
The recipe below is from the magazine Everyday Food. I believe it originally appeared around Thanksgiving which is why the recipe calls for fresh cranberries. They are quite good in a scone, but please feel free to substitute other dried or fresh berries depending on your mood and the season. My recent favorite is dried wild blueberries with a little lemon zest. The scones pictured were made with dried cherries.
As with so many recipes I love, these scones can be completely made the night before up to the baking stage. This makes it easy for oven warm scones for tea time (or breakfast or a nice morning treat for deserving co-workers).
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
5 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup half-and-half, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1/2 cup halved cranberries, drained on paper towels
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2) Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3) Stir in 2/3 cup half-and-half until just moistened. Gently fold in cranberries.
4) On a lightly floured surface , knead dough gently, 5 to 10 times. Pat into a 1 inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet, 2 inches apart. (If making in advance, this is where I pause: place the scones on a baking sheet, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready for baking.)
5) Brush tops with remaining tablespoon half-and-half; sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. (I like to use sugar in the raw instead of regular granulated sugar to give the top a nice shimmery crunch. Also, if the scones have been in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, I usually add a couple of minutes to the bake time).