One of my younger sisters came to visit me last weekend and asked to have a tea party. Because she’s my sister and because I’ll take any excuse to sit and savor a good cup of tea, I was more than happy to host afternoon tea for her. I honestly love tea parties. I get to use the beautiful tea cups and silver teaspoons my husband and I have collected over the years. And I get to eat these scones – the most light and tender scones you can imagine with a barely crispy exterior that crumbles slightly as you break into it. They are just sweet enough to eat plain or go with a dollop of lemon curd and whipped cream (or clotted cream, if you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some).
It’s funny to think about how much I love tea now given that, for a long time, I didn’t care for it. It was only during a trip to England several years ago that I discovered just how good tea could be and I’ve been a convert ever since.
Besides scones and lemon curd, I also served a variety of finger sandwiches at the tea. I bought different cheeses, jams, and deli meats at the grocery store to assemble the sandwiches. These were my favorite combinations –
- Soft gorgonzola with thin slices of pear
- Prosciutto and fig jam
- Ham, shaved manchengo cheese, and caramelized onions (I was able to buy caramelized onions at the hot sandwich station at my grocery store but you could use a sweet onion jam instead.)
I also made a batch of truffled egg salad sandwiches. They were a little more work than the other sandwiches to make but they fit perfectly with the rest of the menu and are so delicious. And, of course, we had tea – 3 varieties, in fact, because everyone has a different favorite. My sister and I love a good chai tea which we like to brew nice and strong (about 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea to 1 cup of water and then add plenty of milk and sugar).
As a reward to myself for surviving a rough week, I’m off to make a cup of tea and plate of scones with lemon curd. I hope you find a moment to enjoy some quiet time this weekend too.
For the lemon curd
- 1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (I use a microplane to zest the lemons)
- 3/4 cup sugar or more as needed (see Notes)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the scones
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for topping
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
- 3 large eggs
For the lemon curd
- Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a food processor. Blend until the zest is very finely minced and blended into the sugar, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, eggs, butter pieces, and salt. Blend again for an additional 30 seconds or until the mixture is well combined. The mixture will look curdled which is perfectly fine.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and place pan over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the curd cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the scones
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Add butter pieces and process until the mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and eggs. With the mixer running on low speed, add cream mixture to the flour mixture. Mix just until combined and the dough starts to come together.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured board and roll dough to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thickness (see Notes). Using a 2½-inch round cutter, cut out circles gathering the scraps and re-rolling as necessary. Sprinkle sugar over tops of scones. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange scones 2 inches apart on top of paper; freeze until the outsides are semi-hard, 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake scones for 15-25 minutes or until they are pale golden and cake tester inserted into center of scones comes out clean.
For the lemon curd, I highly recommend using meyer lemons if possible. You can use regular lemons if you can’t find meyer lemons. I find that I need to add 1-2 additional teaspoons of sugar when I use regular lemons since they aren’t as sweet as meyer lemons.
You can use a double-boiler or direct heat to cook the lemon curd. Either way, you want to use gentle heat and stir constantly. I recommend stirring with a rubber spatula so you can effectively scrape the bottom and side of the pan to prevent any hot spots.
When rolling out the dough for the scones, you can roll out the dough to a 3/4-inch thickness if you want tall scones that are easy to split. My daughter actually prefers it when I roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness which makes for a flatter scone that is easier to bite into without splitting.
This recipe makes about 20 scones if you roll the dough out 3/4-inch thick and use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.
Recipe for scones adapted from Patisserie Descours Café via the Houston Chronicle.
Recipe for lemon curd from White on Rice Couple.