Date & orange blossom scones
Those of you who read our wee blog with fanatical fervour may recall that I am a lover of tea. Tea of the lose leaf variety. So when I learnt, on the eve of my most recent overseas travels, that Hong Kong plays host to one of the worlds most famous High Tea destinations, it became immediately apparent how my first afternoon as a traveller would draw to a close. It would be spent indulging in High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel. And so it was that my first day passed awash with vibrant market scenes, new smells and tastes, skyscrapers and friendly faces all framed by the South China Sea glittering in the south, and by hills and mountains stretching for the sky in the north. As the sun began its descent towards the horizon I walked up the stairs to the Peninsula Hotel, ushered in by immaculately dressed doormen I felt immediately conscious of my traveller’s attire and how out of place I must have appeared amidst the grandeur of an establishment steeped in such history. I carefully chose a table, placed my order and watched as guests came and went. My tea arrived in a gilded silver teapot with a paper cover over its dainty silver handle. As I sipped my tea I ate exquisitely tasting morsels all equally impossible to resist and when at last I had reached my full I retraced my steps through the hustle and bustle of one of the worlds most densely populated cities, back to my hotel room where I reflected on the first day of three months on the road.
This scone recipe is an ode to my first day in Hong Kong and to the tradition of High Tea. Long may it last. I have added a splash of orange blossom water to this recipe which imparts a beautiful floral note to the finished product.
Makes 24 wee scones--
200g/10 large Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tbsp orange blossom water
3 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup milk & 1/2 cup cream if you are feeling decadent!)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Place the chopped dates into a bowl, pour over the orange blossom water and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Stir in the salt and then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can also do this in the food processor by first putting in the flour and baking powder then adding the butter and pulsing, again until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the salt, sugar and the dates (tip in any extra liquid that may not have been soaked up by the dates) and then pour in the milk. Mix the milk in with bread knife until all the ingredients are just combined. I think the secret to a good scone lies in NOT over mixing the wet and dry ingredients.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to approximately 25mm. Using a round cutter, cut scones from dough and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 6-7 mins or until golden.