The great British summer can sometimes be a bit hit and miss but a really good British cream tea never disappoints: lovely in the garden it’s still an occasion held inside and with much less in the way of insect life trying to get in on the act. Strawberries too are a bit of a British institution, starting off their official social calendar every year at Wimbledon amid the usual shock horror headlines in the newspapers about inflated prices and deflating amounts of strawberries per portion.
These strawberry scones take cream teas to another level and are also gorgeous still warm from the oven with a dab of butter. I got the idea from one of my most favourite easy-watching, relaxing on the sofa after a hard day TV series: Father Brown, loosely based on the original stories by GK Chesterton.
His house-keeper, Mrs McCarthy is famous (as she keeps saying!) for her ‘award winning strawberry scones’. Whenever you see them, and they appear quite often, they look like plain scones (but billowy and wonderful) topped with strawberry jam and cream in the usual way. So I wondered: what if the scones actually had strawberries in the mix as well?
It works. They taste lovely. I wonder what Mrs McCarthy would think of them?
- 225g plain flour
- 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 level teaspoons cream of tartar
- 40g softened salted butter
- 25g golden caster sugar
- 75g firm, just ripe strawberries
- 1 large egg, beaten and made up to150ml with semi-skimmed milk, ideally room temperature
- 1-2 teaspoons icing sugar for finishing
Preheat oven to 200C (fan oven) or equivalent
You will need a greased baking tray and a 6cm fluted cutter
Sieve flour and raising agents into a bowl large enough to give you room to manoeuvre.
Rub in butter, stir in sugar.
Dice strawberries (don’t do this too far ahead) and gently work them through the mixture with your hands, making sure they are all coated.
Mix in egg and milk gradually to form a stiff dough: you may not need all the liquid.
Knead together gently and pat down lightly with floured hands to a thickness of 2cm or a little over.
Cut out rounds. Push trimmings gently together and cut out the rest.
Bake on a greased baking sheet, for 8-10 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top.
Serve warm or cold with strawberry jam, clotted or whipped cream and more strawberries.
A dusting of icing sugar sifted over the tops of the scones before serving looks pretty.
For a sharper outline grease and flour your cutter beforehand. If it becomes too sticky halfway through, wash and re-grease but don't hang about: the raising agents lose effectiveness after about 15 minutes.
As you can see, our cake-loving cat prefers a traditional plain scone.