Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate sconesI’m usually a stickler for scones as they should be – either fruit or plain, buttered, spread with jam and with a dollop of cream on top (especially when it comes to afternoon tea!). But I do enjoy a flavoured scone, too – and this is what I was hankering after when I decided to make these lemon and white chocolate scones.

Scones are really easy to make, but you need to follow a couple of rules to make sure they come out just right. One rule is to avoid over-mixing the initial scone mix if you can, and another is to avoid over-kneading the mix when turning it into a manageable dough. Another is to not add *too* much flour when rolling out and cutting the scones, if you can, so your dough stays nicely moist. Follow all of these, and you should end up with some delightfully light and well-risen scones!

Lemon and white chocolate scones
I added the lemon flavour through finely grated lemon zest. I only used one lemon, but I think two would add a bit more of a tang – the lemon in my scones was quite subtle! I just used bog standard supermarket white chocolate, making to sure to sample some to check it was *just* right (ahem).

I brushed the tops of my scones with milk before baking, but you can also do it with beaten egg for some nicely shiny tops.

I ate my first scone while it was warm from the oven (which meant the chocolate was a bit gooey!) and without any accompaniments, but subsequent scones were enjoyed with butter and strawberry jam. I didn’t have any cream to hand, but that’s very much optional with these, anyway!

These lemon and white chocolate scones would be lovely as part of a cream tea or afternoon tea with a difference, perhaps in the spring or summer, considering the flavours. Do try them!

Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate scones recipe

Makes around 14 scones

  • 280g self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 70g cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 55g white chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 150ml milk
  • Milk or 1 beaten egg, to glaze

To serve:

  • Softened butter
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam
  • Clotted cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220C/425F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, or grease the tray with butter.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar and white chocolate.
  4. Stir the zest into the milk, then slowly add the milk to the flour mixture and stir until you get a soft but manageable dough (you may not need all of the milk). Do not overmix.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough out of the bowl on to it. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and roll the dough out until it’s around 2.5cm thick.
  6. Dip a fluted cutter into some flour (I used a 58mm cutter) and cut the scones out of the dough, transferring them to the baking tray (make sure they’re well spaced out – you may need two trays, or bake in batches).
  7. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat until all of the dough has been used up.
  8. Brush the tops with either milk or beaten egg, and bake the scones in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve sliced with butter, jam and cream, if you like.

Afternoon tea with GBBO’s Luis Troyano

Luis Troyano afternoon tea
You might know from some of my previous posts that I’m a massive fan of Great British Bake Off – and that I was a particular fan of finalist Luis Troyano in last year’s series.

I absolutely loved his attention to both visual detail and flavour (check out my attempt at one of his recipes), and was ever so slightly disappointed that he didn’t win. However, he’s still baking and has a book, Bake It Great, coming out in August.

I was rather delighted when he announced that he would be holding a special afternoon at the Stockport Plaza (a beautiful old cinema conveniently close to my area) to promote the book. Of course, I just had to get a ticket!

The cinema really was a lovely setting. The afternoon tea was held in an Art Deco cafe/restaurant decorated in a tasteful yet simple style – very much like what you’d expect a classy tearoom would have looked like in the 1930s.

There were quite a few people already tucking into their cakes when we got there, but it was all very relaxed and friendly. We were shown to a table, and tea and three tiers of food loveliness appeared soon after we sat down. You can’t see them in the photo above, but the bottom tier had lots of finger sandwiches – egg, cucumber and salmon.

However, it was the sweet treats we were most interested in, and which Luis himself had made in their entirety. As well as the compulsory scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, there were chocolate brownies, Bakewell cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes, and blueberry cheesecake eclairs. YUM.

Carrot cake cupcake
After polishing off the sandwiches, we started with the scones, which were perfect – substantial yet extremely light. Then I moved on to the carrot cake cupcake, which was bursting with zesty orange and fruity sultanas and topped with a fantastic mascarpone buttercream. I’m so glad it was proper buttercream and not the overly sugary icing you usually get on cupcakes!

Blueberry cheesecake eclair
Then it was on to the blueberry cheesecake eclairs – choux pastry sandwiched with a cheesecake-y filling and fresh blueberries. This was so inspired – I’ve never thought of using cheesecake as a filling for eclairs, but it’s such a fantastic idea! The choux was very nicely made and not too heavy. Perfect.

Bakewell cupcake
Next, the star of the show – Bakewell cupcakes. My, these were so good! They looked pretty unassuming, but they were actually filled with delicious jam. The sponge itself was delightfully almond-y. So very good.

Bakewell cupcake
The recipe for these cupcakes will feature in Luis’s book – I know what I’m going to make as soon as I get my hands on it!

Chocolate brownie
Finally, it was time for the chocolate brownie (apologies for the blurry photo, but I was concentrating more on eating than on taking pictures!).

I was a bit worried I might not have room for everything, but going for a long run that morning seemed to increase my appetite quite a lot! I savoured every bite of this brownie – it was very chocolatey indeed, but balanced nicely against vanilla and salt, so it wasn’t too sweet and was scarily addictive.

As we ate, Luis made his way through the room and stopped to speak to everyone and answer questions, which I thought was nice of him. I asked him what was in the brownies, and my boyfriend fiancé praised the eclairs.

Luis then revealed his secret to making the perfect choux, which I can’t actually remember in its entirety now (it’ll be in his book, hopefully), but involved keeping it in the oven for as long as possible without opening the door before you’re supposed to, as that affects the bake. It was lovely talking to Luis, and nice to know that he’s every bit as approachable and kind as he seemed in the show.

All in all, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed all of the food immensely. I’m now hoping that Luis’s fellow GBBO contestant Chetna Makan has the same idea and decides to hold an event near me too…!

Housewarming afternoon tea

Housewarming afternoon teaNearly three months after moving into my first house, I finally got round to holding a housewarming do last weekend. Rather than opt for a standard party that would probably result in lasting damage to my new investment, I decided to hold a family afternoon tea – the perfect excuse to bake an awful lot.

My boyfriend and I split the baking duties after coming up with what seemed like a reasonable list of goodies to make for 11 people, including 2 small children who probably wouldn’t eat much. We both started preparations the day before, and must have put in almost 24 hours of graft between us altogether!

All of our savoury options were vegetarian, due to me being a pescetarian and my boyfriend being veggie. However, my mum brought the savoury stars of the show, some chicken samosas (not pictured), to appease those with meatier appetites. She also brought some onion bhajias for us non meat eaters – despite suffering from some horrible jet lag after a recent trip to India. What a trooper!

Housewarming afternoon tea sandwiches

Sandwiches – egg & cress, or possibly savoury cheese

Housewarming afternoon tea sandwiches

More sandwiches

Housewarming afternoon tea mini Caesar salads

Mini caesar salads

My favourite part was, of course, the sweet baking…

Housewarming afternoon tea Victoria sponge

Victoria sponge

Housewarming afternoon tea toffee brownies

Toffee brownies

Housewarming afternoon tea scones

Plain and fruit scones. Served with clotted cream and a choice of raspberry or strawberry jam.

Housewarming afternoon tea brandysnaps

Brandysnaps

Housewarming afternoon tea Viennese whirls

Viennese whirls, with some Viennese fingers lurking behind them

Housewarming afternoon tea Victoria sponge

Another pic of the Victoria sponge, just because. Along with some cucumber sandwiches. Making a starring guest appearance: ELEPHANT TEAPOT

The tea of choice was some loose Ceylon from Whittard’s, which I would highly, highly recommend for its fresh, delicate flavour – the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea.

All in all, the event was a huge success, as evidenced by the coma-like silence as everyone sat around clutching at their stomachs towards the end. I was worried about there not being enough, but there was so much left over that we held another afternoon tea with the leftovers for some friends the next day! And there was STILL a lot left over from that, so I made everyone take some goodies home with them.

Housewarming afternoon teaBelow is a list of everything that was made and, where relevant, where the recipes came from and links to any previous posts about them:

First bake: ginger and treacle scones

Ginger and treacle scones

I’ve been meaning to bake something all weekend. I’d settled on an old favourite, chocolate orange and pecan cookies, until I caught up with the brilliant Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking blog this morning. I started following this blog not long ago and it seems everything Caroline makes is right up my street. So when I saw her recipe for crystallised stem ginger and treacle scones – featuring two flavours I absolutely adore in cakes – I just *knew* I had to bake them.

I’ve made scones a few times before, but they’ve always been the plain variety, with mixed results. These scones actually seem to be easier to make than the ones I’ve baked before. I liked Caroline’s trick of mixing the treacle with milk and then warming it in the microwave to ensure the treacle can be evenly mixed into the dough – it definitely worked a treat. The only faffy bit for me was rubbing the butter into the flour mixture to create ‘breadcrumbs’, but this is something I always find a bit faffy to do!

Unbaked ginger and treacle scones

Ginger and treacle scones, pre-baking

I used a slightly smaller cutter than the one Caroline used – it was probably about half a centimetre smaller. I managed to get 9 scones out of the mixture using this cutter, and they stayed pretty much the same size after going in the oven (although some of them did puff up on the top rather spectacularly – you can see some in the picture below). This is probably because the dough wasn’t completely brought together on the top for some of them, as you can see above in the ‘before’ picture.

Ginger and treacle scones

Baked ginger and treacle scones

Taste-wise, the scones are pretty damn good. The stem ginger provides the prevailing ginger flavour, while you get a hint of treacle in the background. I had a couple a few minutes after they came out of the oven, with butter, but I think Caroline’s suggestion of having them with ginger conserve would work beautifully. They came out a little crumbly but not overly so; next time I will probably work the dough a bit more to bring it together and avoid the messy tops, as well as maybe add a little more treacle to coax out that particular flavour a tad more.

Ginger and treacle scones

The recipe

You can find the recipe on the Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking blog here: http://cakecrumbsandcooking.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/crystallised-stem-ginger-and-treacle.html

Thanks Caroline!