Monday, 29 September 2008

Afternoon Tea

When I'm feeling bit unsettled, when home doesn't quite yet feel like home, there's nothing more certain to comfort me than food. Not just any food will do - no chocolate-fest or demolition of an entire packet of custard creams for me - I need something that will give me that halo of domesticity. This weekend I also felt it was important to make something that would ground me in the traditions of England and induce a warming sense of nostalgia. A quite literally fruitful cycle ride last weekend saw us returning with a pound of ripe blackberries and a dozen windfall apples that were quickly turned into 4 pots of Bramble and Apple Jelly.

A trip to meet some foodie friends in London's Borough Market provided an opportunity to smap up a tub of real Clotted Cream... Can you guess where this post is going?!

There was nothing for it, a clotted cream tea just had to be made. As an added bonus, we were visited at teatime on Saturday by two good friends, so we pretended to ourselves that we were making the tea for them, but we were fooling no one. We would have made it just for us. And eaten 2 scones each.

Amazingly, this was I think my first attempt at making scones. I suppose that I may have done so during 'Home Economics' at school once, but as I can't remember it they can't have been too good. My husband has always made the scones in our house, using the recipe from Delia's Complete Cookery Course, but this time I wanted to try my luck. I used a recipe taken from a 2004 Waitrose magazine, and was seriously impressed with the lightness of the resulting scones, which also rose impressively. The recipe can also be found here.

Just the sight of clotted cream brings back so many memories for me. At the end of every childhood holiday in Devon, we would stop at the village shop to buy a tub of local clotted cream to take home. My memory fails me at this point, I'm not quite sure how we ate it once home, but whether it was melting atop some hot fruit crumble, or sitting proudly upon a scone, I know that I have always loved it. Just looking at it is enough to make me salivate - the buttery colour is spectacular, and I love the way that it is so thick that it's quite hard work to lick it off the spoon. (To reassure you, I waited until our friends had left before I tried!)

Somehow the well-worn debate about whether the cream or the jam should be first onto the scone took up little of our afternoon. This was no time for talk. There was the serious business of reacquainting ourselves with the culinary traditions of our native land to be getting on with.