While on vacation, each day at sea we enjoyed Afternoon Tea at 3:30pm. Admittedly I've never been a tea drinker but my dear friend Beth taught me quite a bit about tea on this vacation. And while I still can't say I'm a big fan of the "tea" taste, I do love the concept of afternoon tea... and I definitely love the pastries that go along with it :)
On the ship, tea was served in elegant tea cups, poured from silver teapots by white-gloved servers as other white-gloved attendants virtually floated around with offerings of teacakes, finger sandwiches and cookies while soft background music from a string quartet wrapped us in a feeling of loveliness.
And best of all, they served scones!
OMG OMG OMG!!! Oh do I loooooooove scones! The very first "serious" recipe I made when I got my new cast iron skillets last Christmas was a batch of buttermilk scones. I'd never had them before... and I'd never considered baking in a cast iron skillet... but the recipe sounded good so I thought I'd give it a whirl. And I fell in love. I made several batches and I'm not sure it would be an exaggeration to say that I think the first week I had my cast iron skillets I ate a good percentage of my body weight in scones!
So when I heard they served scones during Afternoon Tea, well, just as quick as you can say Yes Sirree Ricky Bobby this non-tea-drinker was all excited about Afternoon Tea! LOL!!! I'll admit the scones on the ship were different than mine (I don't think they used buttermilk) they were good nonetheless :) Tall, stately, blonde Angelika-from-Hungary became my favorite server in the tea room... because she served the scones!! And of course my other favorite server in the tea room was anyone who was serving the cream and jam to accompany my bundles of delight :) The tea was okay (lots of sweetener and lemon helped)... the finger sandwiches were tasty... the pastries were very good... but it was the scones with cream and jam that kept me comin' back every afternoon at 3:30pm :)
It's been a bit of a letdown, returning to our regular life after spending 15 fantastic days aboard a wonderful cruise ship and thoroughly enjoying everything offered (especially the ballroom dancing classes that I'll have to post about at some point!!!). One thing that's helped smooth the transition is continuing to drink tea. It feels like we are enjoying a mini- (okay super teeny tiny mini-) vacation every day :) Last weekend DH and I were enjoying a cup of tea and he said "yanno, the only thing that would make this better would be scones". So I quickly whipped up a batch and later that day we enjoyed more tea... but this time with scones!
Scones are really not that difficult to make and this recipe is very versatile. Ever notice how my favorite recipes are the versatile ones? I just love a versatile recipe cuz you can change it around to suit your taste, your mood or even yer fancy!! If ya don't like mixed fruit, use just one fruit you do like. If you don't like fruit at all, just omit the fruit altogether. Have a preference for almond extract? Use that instead of the vanilla extract. Like your scones sweeter? Add more sugar. Play around... have fun... but go ahead and make some scones. And a cup of tea to go with it :)
Mixed Fruit Scones
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 sticks chilled butter
1/2 cup dried mixed fruit (I use SunMaid brand)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400F
Butter a cast iron skillet or cast iron scone-pan
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix only until blended. Add the fruit and vanilla extract - mix until combined throughout. Last, pour in the buttermilk and again mix only until blended. Drop by tablespoon onto prepared skillet or scone-pan and bake until golden brown... about 20-25 minutes.
Serve warm with butter, whipped cream or clotted cream... and your favorite jam.