Tea Time With Scones and Bannocks

Tea Time With Scones and Bannocks
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Scones and bannocks for tea time in the British Isles sets the stage for a memorable occasion. When my in-laws toured England and Scotland, they enjoyed the break for afternoon tea. Two of the foods they raved about were scones and bannocks.
Stories vary about the origin of these items. Some research indicates Scottish cooks first made scones. However, the origin of this simple food is hazy. ItÂ’s served throughout England, Scotland, and Wales with regional variations A English reader of my cooking columns said there are two ways to pronounce scone. Some people say it rhymes with stone and others rhyme it with corn. You can use either, he says.

Scones vs. Bannocks

In general, scones are rolled out into a circle, then cut into triangles and put onto a greased and floured cookie sheet to bake. Sometimes theyÂ’re cooked on a griddle and called "griddle scones." Also, some English cooks cut scones into 2 or 3-inch rounds with a cookie cutter. Then the scones are baked as we do biscuit in America.

Bannocks usually are baked as a whole circle, in the oven or on a griddle. After theyÂ’re cooked, the bannock is cut into triangles. ItÂ’s generally agreed that bannocks probably originated in Scotland.

I was told that true scones are never baked as a large circle. If someone did want to shape it this way, they should cut deeply into the top of the scone and divide it into eighths. In other words, score the scone before baking.

Various Recipes

Various recipes have evolved for scones with some calling for rolled oats along with the flour. In another recipe for dropped scones, the cook stirs hot mashed potatoes into the ingredients before cooking. (The dropped scone, spooned onto a griddle or baking sheet as you do drop cookies, is not considered a true scone by some people.) When I described a scone recipe calling for currants, an English acquaintance said that true scones are never filled with currants. There are "Fruit Scones", but they use golden raisins or sultanas. However, some scone recipes (which therefore may not be completely English) do contain dark raisins, currants, and even dried fruit.

More Scone Variations

The Englishman said his mother always left a pint of milk to sour and separate. Then she used the curds in her scone recipe. Some variations he mentioned have glace or candied cherries in them. Another recipe calls for a tablespoon of black treacle (molasses in American recipes).

Ideal Region for Tasty Teas

The very best place for afternoon tea, according to this Englishman, is Britain's "West Country" which consists of the counties of Devon and Cornwall. Here youÂ’ll find great scones and the "best cream youÂ’ve ever tasted." English Afternoon Tea Scones are typically served with English "Cream Tea," I was informed. Two scones accompanying a pot of good tea, form the basis of this meal. You split and butter the scone, then spread it with a big dollop of strawberry jam, and cover with whipped heavy cream.

SCONES - Sift together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt. With pastry blender or knives, cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine.

Add 2 slightly beaten eggs and mix with a fork until mixture forms a ball.

Roll into a circle about 1/2-inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges.

Bake at 400 degrees F. about 15 minutes, or until golden. Split and serve with butter, jam, and to be truly English...whipped cream.

(c)2002 Mary Emma Allen


About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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