I am a huge Jamie Oliver fan and think he does wonderful work. I have been reading through his latest offering, “Jamie’s Great Britain”, and enjoying it immensely. I have baked two of his afternoon tea recipes – Scones and the Earl Grey Tea Loaf – and would like to share some thoughts about them.
Firstly, the scones. I have my own tried and true family scone recipe and fail to understand why some people can only produce tough, floury numbers that could break a shop window! However, I thought it would be lax not to try the version in the book. They are really light and very crumbly with an almost pastry-like finish. Quite lovely. After discussion with my husband, we agreed that we prefer my original recipe because the scones are moister. Jamie’s recipe has two ingredients that mine doesn’t – eggs and baking powder. The eggs do make the dough much easier to work with and cut, my dough is far stickier. Adding baking powder to the self-raising flour also added an extra lightness. I think that I would like to make my original recipe, but add the baking powder and see what happens – stay tuned.
Scone tips! Jamie had an excellent tip that I am now going to use every time I bake a batch. Invert the scone onto the baking tray when it is cut so the bottom becomes the top. He said it supposedly makes them rise better and I think he is right. They certainly rise more evenly with less of a lean to them. My best scone tip is to stir the dough with a butter knife. I always bring the dough together with a butter knife and then handle it as little as possible before cutting. I had leftover scones (I tend to cook on a large scale) and made them into a bread and butter pudding. I broke the scones into smallish chunks and put frozen raspberries through the pudding – worked really well.
On to the Earl Grey Tea Loaf. There is a hatred of dried fruit within my family – and basically if I see a sultana I run a mile! There is a lot of dried fruit that I love and some that I can overlook if need be, but serve me something with hot squidgy sultanas in it and watch me turn green. Jamie’s recipe is pretty flexible about what dried fruit you can use, so it suits me fine. The loaf has no butter and relies on egg to bind it – to great success. I soaked cranberries, diced dried apricots and a tiny handful of currants in Monk Pear tea as my Earl Grey had run out! I ended up with a Monk Pear Tea Loaf and decided that as this is a sweeter perfumed tea than the Earl Grey, I would use lemon rind and juice rather than orange. All in all, a great afternoon tea treat with or without butter. Jamie mentions serving some cheese with it and I think that with my apricoty-loaf a smear of cream cheese would taste great!