Sunday, July 14, 2013

Teatime and delightful Devon

Having done a basic cream tea a couple of times already, I went a level up today, and hosted a Devon(shire)-themed tea for myself and five guests, with a slightly extended menu from the county that lent its name to one of the most exciting geological periods, and produced some of England's greatest seafarers.

We started with a savory bite-sized snack of Devonshire Eggs, which I prepared by making 6 deviled eggs, the yolks blended with a teaspoon of mustard, 60g of cream cheese, a teaspoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of cream, and salt and pepper.

This makes a great hors d'oeuvre or snack, with a lovely tart taste from the mustard in the blended yolks that were scooped back into the halved whites.

Another item I prepared was a Devonshire Honey Cake. To make this, I melted 100g of dark Muscovado sugar with 225g of butter and 225g of honey.

I beat 3 eggs into the cooled mixture, and beat that into 300g of self-rising flour to make a batter.

I baked the batter for about an hour at 150C, and glazed the warm, risen cake with honey. This came out much better than I expected.

Now it was time for the classic Devon combination of scones with clotted cream and jam. I always like to make my own jam, as it has a much fresher taste and chunkier texture than a store-bought. I cut up half a kilo of strawberries into chunks, and put them into a saucepan on low heat, with caster sugar in equal weight, and the juice and zest of one lemon to provide the pectin.

After the sugar dissolved, I started boiling the mixture, repeatedly testing for a jam-like viscosity using a frozen porcelain plate.

It turned out a little runnier than I would have preferred, but still very good.

Scones are really easy to bake. I mixed 450g of self-rising flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, and kneaded a dough of this using 200ml of heavy cream and 125ml of water. I floured small, flattened balls of this dough, and placed them on a floured baking tray.

Their tops brushed with milk a couple of times while they baked at 200C for about 20 minutes, the scones came out perfect.

And of course, we layered them with dollops of clotted cream FOLLOWED by the homemade jam, in the order customary of Devon (as opposed to Cornwall, where they inexplicably do it in the reversed order).

Lots of hot Earl Grey helped settle everything down.

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