Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time for Tea

Good friends came over today for a visit from the Bookmobile, a day of play, nice conversation, and dinner. The boys, ages 12-9 played for hours with Tex's "practice swords" we bought him from the Vision Forum catalogue last Christmas. They also shot the bows and arrows, threw slobber balls for Bella, and fed the animals in a sudden torrential downpour (which they seemed to think was FUN). Then they proceded to defeat the "Dark Side" playing some Star Wars game on the computer.

The little ones had fun (ages 1-7) playing dress up inside, playing Reader Rabbit, and loving on (or tormenting, depending on your viewpoint) the new kitten and the bunny. Then the girls (Ladybug, Firefly, and my friend's 7 yo daughter) came in and sweetly asked if we could have a tea party.

Well, that wasn't in my plan for the day, but on the spur of the moment I decided, "Why not?" So my friend, Lisa, and I got out my Baking With Julia cookbook (I LOVE it! I saw the movie Julie and Julia with my mom and I am now a Julia Child fan!) and found a recipe for buttermilk scones. Fortunately, while I don't keep buttermilk handy, I do have Saco's buttermilk powder and that worked fine.

Lisa washed cups and a tea pot, then brewed some Earl Grey (my FAVORITE, Lady Grey comes in second), and I got down a silver tray and made some strawberry butter while the scones were baking (all I did was add some of the strawberry freezer jam I made to Parkay from the tub and voila! Strawberry butter!).

Here is how it turned out:

It's a good thing we made plenty (our final batch was double this amount), because the big boys ate and drank more than the girls did...but don't tell anybody!

Here's the recipe for the scones that I used. Yes, as usual, I adjusted it (*gasp*...did I REALLY adjust a Julia Child recipe? Yes, I did. I did not have lemon zest or lemon flavoring, so I added vanilla and some butter flavor instead. Plus, I have made scones before and found that I like a bit of vanilla yogurt added to the mix for moistness and flavor, so I did that, too.) And guess what? They were GREAT!!

Buttermilk Scones
adapted from Baking With Julia

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking sodabaking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (I had to use margerine and it worked fine)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (my change..we like ours chewy and soft...you can leave this out if you like)
1 tsp. vanilla (my change)
1/2 tsp. butter flavor (my change...Julia calls for 1 tbs. lemon or orange zest)

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in cold butter pieces using fingers or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Large pieces of butter are fine as this increases flakiness. Combine buttermilk, yogurt, and flavorings, then add to the mix with a fork just until moistened. The dough should be soft. If it is too dry, add a bit more buttermilk. Make a ball with the dough, then press gently on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly (just a dozen times, no more). Make sure you flour your hands, too, so you don't get too sticky.

Cut the dough in half and pat first half into a flat, 1/2 thick circle. I put the remaining dough in the bowl in the fridge while doing this step. Cut your dough into eighths or tenths and place the triangles on an ungreased baking sheet. Melt a half stick of butter in the microwave and brush the tops of the scones with some of the butter (save half for the next batch). I didn't have a brush, so Lisa suggested dabbing it on with a paper towel and that worked fine. Then take your sugar shaker and sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar (about 2 tbs). I cooked my scones in two batches because my oven is not that good. The batches took about 10 minutes each. Repeat this process with the second batch. The scones should fluff up nicely, but be somewhat firm to the touch and golden. They are gooooood! Dip them in strawberry butter (or, I have added a touch of vanilla creamer to butter for a nice change before) and they are deeeeelish!

Enjoy! Let me know about your tea party...I'd love to hear details and to see recipes.

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