Celebrating the Queen’s platinum anniversary with delicious and easy traditional English scones

Published: November 22, 2017
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Traditional English scones may include raisins or currants, but are often plain, relying on jam, preserves, lemon curd or honey for added flavour – perhaps with a touch of clotted cream. PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

Since it was Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 70th wedding anniversary two days ago, a friend (read royal family enthusiast) asked me why not serve up something traditionally British!

Clotted cream with scones, frilly raspberry tarts, lashings of lemonade are all the things that come to mind when I reminisce about Enid Blyton’s world of afternoon tea, picnic lunches and midnight feasts. Moonface and Silky the elf are familiar names to those of us who grew up on a staple of her books – The Famous Five, The Wishing Chair, Malory Tower, to name a few.

The British ritual of afternoon tea began when the Duchess of Bedford decided, sometime in the early 1840s, that she was tired of feeling peckish in the middle of the afternoon. A little snack would be just the thing, she thought. Within a generation, the practice of taking a light meal with company in the middle of the day was firmly entrenched in British national life.

The first time I had the chance to experience an English-style tea was recently at the House of Lords. It was over scones, crumpets, cake and of course tea. The Bishop, Peter Price, told us that though cream tea is such a British institution and is loved everywhere in the UK but no more than in the South West, predominantly in the two counties of Devon and Cornwall. The content of the sliced scone remains the same, simply jam and cream. However, it is the order these are assembled that makes the difference; in a Devon tea, first comes the cream and then the jam, while in Cornwall, it is jam first followed by the cream.

The next opportunity to experience the traditional afternoon tea was at my friend Alice’s parents’ house in the quaint town of Salisbury. And I am not talking about any old tea. I am talking about a good, old-fashioned English tea time, with finger sandwiches, dainty china cups and all the formality a Downton Abbey lover could wish for. Lucy, Alice’s mother, had indeed pulled back no punches, and at the end of it, I had to force myself to stop from having a sixth cup of tea.

Scones are traditionally associated with Scotland, Ireland and England, but exactly who deserves the honour of invention, no one knows for sure. Scones may well have originated in Scotland since the first known print reference, in 1513, is from a Scottish poet. Traditional English scones may include raisins or currants, but are often plain, relying on jam, preserves, lemon curd or honey for added flavour, perhaps with a touch of clotted cream. But one thing is for sure, scones should be enjoyed straight from the oven, with only the briefest of pauses for the requisite toppings.

So with winters coming, and given the royal occasion, here is my recipe for scones:

Ingredients:

Self-raising flour – 225 grams

A pinch of salt

Butter – 55 grams

Baking powder – 1 tsp

Caster sugar – 25 grams

Milk – 150ml

Free-range egg – 1 (beaten, to glaze)

Method:

1. Heat the oven and lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.

3. Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.

4. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm thick.

5. Use a cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet.

6. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

7. Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter, good jam and some clotted cream.

Enjoy!

All Pictures: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    What a wonderful read that was. You covered so many topics, the British Royal family, reading Enid Blyton as a child and of course the quintessential British standard the afternoon tea. Allow me the liberty to guess that your 5 week hiatus away from blog writing was spent in England.
    I must concede that our attachment with things British has to do with our colonial past and your picture of the tea table set with fine china was really nice. To be honest I still can not accept drinking tea ( or coffee although I am not a coffee drinker ) out of a paper cup ( …so very American ). Things like scones, egg or cucumber and egg sandwiches and a good cake ( in the picture its a chocolate cake ). Why no crackers and cheese ? What I liked were the two round rattan mats, elegant touch. I did know of the origin of the sandwich but the story of the Duchess of Bedford and the origin of the tradition of the afternoon tea was a new one, along with other little bits about the humble scone.
    If a 5 week holiday produces something like this……take another 5 weeks off.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    the only important thing in your post.

    our inferiority complex!!!

    yes we all are to an extent. gora sahib mentality.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Excellent write-up… I will try these out.

    Best wishes.Recommend

  • Parvez

    There is much to be learned from others ….. and no shame or complex involved in one admitting it. We too have a rich culture and histor, the fact that we neither preserve it nor build on it ….. is our misfortune.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    haha yes London it was !
    is crackers and cheese British? I thought that was American?
    I should write a blog on a British House alone, they are ( particularly this one) so so so beautiful- the decor … everything basically !
    I honestly wish I could travel more , it gives such a different perspective about things!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    agreed^Recommend

  • Hamsid

    and yes I don’t know about coffee but I have always felt that tea should be had out of a cup and there should be a dedicated tea time in the evening – whether solo ( in which case the garden/ or a comfy sofa) or with family around. A break away from life and its problems…Recommend

  • Patwari

    Got the the grey flannels on, navy blue blazer with the Grenadiers patch on the pocket,
    button down sky blue shirt and the Horse Guards regimental tie. Oxblood loafers. There.
    Will pass for a country squire any day. On way to have the High Tea with the Duchess of
    Cawnpur at Fortnum and Mason’s. [Their special blend, preferably]
    Enid Blyton? What’s that? A recipe? Cooking utensil?
    Now Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe, they are in a class by themselves.
    As the British say,… Tootle-pip.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    hardy boys is Americannnnn ! though I love them and Nancy Drew of course!
    haha seeems like you spent quite a while in England!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Please do . they are super easy and hardly take any time at all !Recommend

  • Hamsid

    omg I wish I had known about Fortnum and Mason’s! I just googled it , its seems heavenly!Recommend

  • Patwari

    A very interesting country, indeed, tourist wise and other wise. And there
    are great museums there. Then, there is ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’,
    Farmer Bolwood and Bathsheba Everdeen of ‘Far from the Maddening Crowd’
    Also very enamoured of British countryside cottages. And cottage paintings.
    You should check Robert Kinkade and his paintings of English cottages. They
    are magic. [Maybe you already know about him]
    Not forgetting quintessential Pip….Magwich…Recommend

  • Patwari

    Agree with you. Though Prince Philip [Duke of Windsor?]
    is well known for his gaffes. Including the very famous one
    at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The humble cream cracker biscuit ( Americans call biscuits cookies and biscuits in America turned out to be little buns …… as per my experience 😀 ) was created in a house kitchen years age in Dublin……and cheese is cheese.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Look forward to your blog on a British House.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Agree…..there is something quite distinct and charming about a British House……rather it’s a home and not a house. The subtle distinction was explained to me in Italy of all places.
    I always say if you have the means the best education you can give yourself and your children is to show them the world…..and read as much as possible.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    That is so true , travelling and reading – welcome escapes both of themRecommend

  • Hamsid

    its not a blog specifically on a British House , but its part 2 to this one hopefully whenever ET puts it upRecommend

  • Hamsid

    I didn’t know that !! thank you !, see this is why I love writing for ET , I get to learn new things all the timeRecommend

  • Hamsid

    No I didn’t know of Robert Kinkade I just googled him and the paintings are beautiful!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I never really figured that one out waisey? maybe he was asking out of curiosity no?
    or maybe just a blonde moment =pRecommend

  • Patwari

    The Duke of Edinburgh, said he was in college with Colonel Dyer’s son.
    They were classmates. Or something to that effect.
    [Col. Dyer is known as the Butcher of Jallianwala Bagh]
    And Dyer’s son claimed the casualties were nowhere near what the
    Indians claimed, [more than 2000 killed and injured] there were just a few
    hundreds.
    His hosts the Indians did not argue with him out of courtesy, but they were
    livid. To say the least.
    Yes, it was a blond moment for the Duke.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Most popular popular cooking shows on TV rely more on the travel aspect with cooking as a spin off ……. your blogs follow the same pattern and it’s not hard to guess what interests me more …… keep writing.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you =) I just hope I can combine the two further!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    uff , blonde bomb rather…Recommend

  • PatelPara

    admitting is good sign. Have inferiority complex is bad. working on getting rid off it is also a good step.Recommend