Tea at three...

by - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Once upon a time, in a land of busy social calendars of volunteer variety, afternoons were graced with a slower pace allowing the taking of tea. This ritual was established to stave off hunger until dinnertime - a gathering often at 9 pm or later. It is believed we should thank Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the early 19th century for this establishment. Today, even Mick Jagger admits "I got nasty habits; I take tea at three."
Think about it... Have our overloaded schedules really changed? If anything, we're even more busy in today's world. So what about break-time or snacking? I know I surely need a pick-me-up somewhere around three o'clock, grabbing a cup of coffee... or tea. To enjoy a soothing hot cup of tea may be considered a treat, but an afternoon break is often a necessity. We owe our busy selves a reassurance that our time is important and we need to nourish the soul with warmth to face the remainder of the day.
Both the English and Irish are steadfast with this custom, and scones are an important accompaniment. I love scones and after several tries, the recipe I now use has become a hit with family and friends alike. They are easy to make, and you can use whatever fresh ingredients on hand to flavor them. Let's make fresh lemon blueberry scones!
Lemon Blueberry Scones
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 egg, beaten
Extra sugar for sprinkling
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Sift the flour and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
3) Cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until combined into a course meal.
4) Using a grater (or a citrus zester), shave the lemon zest and scrape all bits into the bowl. Mix into the meal.
5) Add the blueberries and mix into the meal using a spatula.
6) Add the vanilla extract and cream. Combine with the spatula. The dough will become very sticky at which point you need to gently fold the dough in the bowl to combine all and create a firm ball.
7) On a floured surface, cover the dough ball in flour and roll out to a circle about 1/2 inch thick.
8) Using a sharp knife or dough cutter, cut the circle as you would  pie into eight even triangular slices.
9) Place the triangles onto the parchment and brush liberally with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.
10) Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until they are slightly brown (ovens vary, so watch they don't get overdone).

Some other varieties I've made are Lemon Strawberry, Almond Cranberry (replace the vanilla extract with almond extract and the fruit with dried cranberries), and even simple chocolate chip. Whatever your favorite flavor, these past traditions present gifts of time... Time to enjoy tea at three... 

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