I'm an Afternoon Tea girl since forever. My High School friends and I would occasionally do afternoon tea during weekends desperate to play grown up. Wearing makeup, high heels, shopping and acting grown up high on high tea was the ultimate teenage weekend day for us. Bear in mind that I grew up in the 80s so the makeup was a tastefully dubious blue eyeshadow and pink frosted lipstick and the high heels were pastel pink pumps. We would spending our parent's hard earned cash on Duran Duran records (yes these were pre CD times), frill skirts and tube skirts. Hot huh? ;)
A high of a more gustatory variety is finding the perfect scone. There are so many bad scones, masquerading as light scones but really playing the part of rocks or weapons. During afternoon tea, when faced with a three tier layer of sweet goodness, I always eat the sandwiches first, and then go for the scones as they are warm. The cakes go last as they are dessert of course. If the scones are good then I will eat them but if they aren't fabulous I simply won't waste the stomach space. I've left behind more scones than I have boyfriends ;)
One place that does a terrific scone is the Tea Room at the QVB and Gunner's Barracks (scene of the infamous kookaburra sandwich stealing incident). In fact they do my favourite scones ever. Their recipe was no doubt a highly protected secret but I thought I might cheekily ask if I could get the recipe. After all it never hurts to ask right? Fearing rejection I was delighted to hear a perhaps and then a resounding yes. I was even offered a scone making lesson at the Tea Room QVB location!
There they make 210 scones a day for hungry hordes of diners and they serve over 1,000 afternoon teas a week. Mother's Day was their busiest day with 361 diners. They serve their afternoon tea on Royal Albert china with clotted cream and a variety of hot and cold morsels. The scones are the first job for the pastry chefs every morning. Chef Jason Gannon shows me how to make these fabulous Tea Room scones and gives me tricks for making them at home for us mere mortals that don't have ovens large enough to walk in!
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite part of an afternoon tea? The scones, sandwiches or cakes?
The Tea Room Scone
Recipe courtesy of The Tea Room
Makes about 30 scones
900g/32ozs self raising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
220g/7.7ozs unsalted butter at room temperature but not too soft
620ml/21 fl ozs. buttermilk
50ml/1.7 fl ozs. milk
Step 1 - If you have a fan forced oven, place a saucepan of water at the bottom of the oven-this creates steam. Preheat oven to 165C/330F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Crumbing the butter with the dry ingredients
Mixing in the buttermilk
2 .Crumb together all dry ingredients with butter. Use buttermilk to combine.
Step 3 - Roll out dough to 2cm thickness. Cut to desired size (The Tea Room size is using a 6cm diameter cutter)
Step 4 - Place on tray lined with baking paper.
Step 5 - Make egg wash, whisk 1 egg and milk together
Step 6 - Brush egg wash on top of each scone
Step 7 - Place in preheated oven at 165C/330F for 18-19 minutes. Let rest before serving.
Tip: Never microwave scones, always reheat them in oven at 185C/365F for 5 minutes.