scone city

20180501_1610471553499709.jpgWe made our first visit to Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box in January 2015 and it floors me that I continue to find recipes worth getting excited about. Besides the first two boxes,wpid-20150217_112904.jpgwe’ve since added two smaller–and most definitely quirky–books.

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Sweet, savory, old-school, surprisingly contemporary, some duds though mostly success. And though there are recipes I won’t bother with (taking a pass on Salmon Pudding and State Fair Ham Loaf), there are still so many more I want to make.

This week we’ll piggyback on Helen’s crepes and her European travels. A box of papers held records of her many visits to England where she studied as a Fulbright scholar. Programs and playbills from theater performances, operas, coronations, museums, castles evidenced her high regard for all things culture.20180417_133822607016487.jpgAs I flipped through her recipes, I stopped short at the page for scones. How very properly British! Maybe Helen first discovered scones while enjoying high tea in London?20180501_121035409905686.jpgAccording to The Queen of Scones, these lovely baked goods first became popular when Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), ordered sweet breads and tea as an afternoon pick-me-up.  She must have been properly picked up as she continued requesting these same “breads,” some of which were scones, at precisely 4 p.m. each day. Afternoon Tea Time was born!

The first scones were large, round, and flat. Containing oats, they were unleavened and baked on a griddle before being cut into triangles for serving. Today’s scones are quite another thing. Coffee shops sell scones boasting flavors of espresso, raspberry-white-chocolate-chip, double chocolate, etc etc. They are most often triangular and most certainly leavened.

Helen’s scone recipe was oat-free, but likely closer to the original than some. Her instructions were borderline vague and I had to guess at “rounds – cut across twice.” “Bkp” had to mean baking powder, but that’s a deduction only someone with at least a bit of baking experience would make. Calling for 1/6 cup milk was also bizarre (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons – I did the math).

That said, the recipe was easy enough to follow and I strayed only by using unsalted butter in place of the shortening and skipping the raisins in lieu of emptying a bag of freeze-dried berries I’ve wanted to get off my shelf for some time.20180501_12032029652983.jpgThough the recipe may have said to cut across twice, I went for thrice and got six small scones. I also sprinkled the unbaked dough generously with a fun lemon-rosebud sugar I picked up at the farmers’ market ages ago.20180501_1209541295533408.jpgThey turned out deliciously and it couldn’t have gone any other way as the ingredients were so basic. These were standard scones, plain and simple, albeit pimped up with freeze-dried berries. Maybe not exactly what Helen had in mind when she penned the recipe in her beautifully flowing script, but my guess is she would approve of the tweaks.20180501_1237081095156859.jpgTea will be served alongside these scones, of course, but we’ll dress that tea up somehow when you return next week for Cocktail U.

9 thoughts on “scone city

  1. Liz–those scones look to-die-for! And what a neat history your great aunt left for you. A Fulbright scholar!?! Wow.

    Now I’m really curious what adult beverage you will pair it with. Will it perhaps have some sort of tea . . . electric iced tea?

    Where did you get the fantastic table cloth?

    • Thanks, Fannie. Helen was amazing, especially for the times. There are more like her now but at the time she and her friends were not the norm.

      I like where you are going with the iced tea idea. Hmmm…

      And I love that you notice all of my tableclothes, dishes, etc. Thank you!!! My family rolls their eyes whenever I make a new purchase, but it’s all just so pretty and relatively inexpensive so usually just go ahead and add it to my collection. The tablecloth was free because I had a Herberger’s gift card 🙂 And good thing I used it, too, with them going out of business and all. Retail gets hit hard what with this online shopping thing.

      • I hear you about loosing the local business. We have lost so many here to either big box or online retail. We support as many of the local businesses as we can.

        Regarding the electric ice tea, I’ll raise my glass to that. 😉

  2. I have a scones recipe I like a lot–I’ll have to look and see how closely it resembles this one. I wish I could’ve met Aunt Helen–she did have such an interesting life!

    • Thank you, Kerry. Fun to have old and treasured recipes for sure. Wish I could catch more glimpses of how she lived, especially as a contemporary. My mom knew her as an aunt and I knew her as an older great-Aunt. What would it have been like to have been her colleague or friend? Appreciate you being here 😀

  3. How lovely to see the recipe written in your aunt’s handwriting – for too long scones have been on my list to try – must make some soon!

    • Thank you, Laura 🙂 They were one of these easiest things I’ve made lately. Go for it! Agreed that it’s extra-special when it comes from a piece of history.

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