What’s better than a fresh-out-of-the oven scone? Give up? A fresh-out-of-the-oven scone spread with tea gelée. Take your favorite tea, brew it, sweeten it lightly with either honey or sugar, and then set the liquid with a bit of gelatin. Allow to cool, refrigerate and now you’re ready to bake some tender and light textured scones to enjoy with the gelée. No need for clotted cream or lemon curd here as the scones have their own dairy richness.
For the tea I like to use something smoky and Chinese (Yunnan, Keemun or Lapsang Souchong) and infuse it for a few minutes with the zest from seasonal citrus (tangerines, clementines, blood orange or even low acid grapefruit).
Here’s how to make both:
For the tea gelée:
Yield: approximately 1 pint of gelée
4 grams tea leaves of your choice
16 ounces water
Zest of your favorite citrus (tangerine, clementine, blood orange, a small low-acid grapefruit such as Oro blanco)
Granulated sugar or honey to taste
3 sheets of sheet gelatin (each weighing approximately 2 grams), placed in a small bowl of ice water to soften, or 3 t. gelatin powder, soaked in 2 T. cool water
Brew the tea by bringing the water to the boil, add the leaves, allow to infuse with the zest (only the colored parts of the skin) for about 5 minutes. Pass through a fine meshed sieve and add sugar or honey to taste and, while still hot, then add the soaked gelatin. If using sheet gelatin, soak until softened in ice water, then remove from the water, squeezing out the excess liquid. Set aside in small bowl until ready to add it to the hot brewed tea. If using the gelatin powder, add it, with its absorbed water, to the hot tea mixture. (If the brewed tea is no longer hot, reheat briefly and then add the gelatin). Stir to dissolve and then place in the refrigerator until cool and slightly set.
For the cream scones:
Yields: 20 scones
2 cups (9.2 ounces or 260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (.42 ounces or 12 grams) baking powder
½. teaspoon (.10 ounce or 2.8 grams) salt
1/3 cup sugar (2.3 ounces or 65 grams), plus 2 tablespoons (.86 ounces or 24 grams), for sprinkling
1 cup 8 ounces or 227 grams) heavy cream, cold
3 tablespoons 1-1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Over a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and 1/3 cup ((2.3 ounces or 65 grams) sugar. Add heavy cream to bowl and gently blend the mixture until ingredients are just combined.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very briefly, making sure that the mixture is not sticking to your work surface. Roll dough out to a 1-inch thickness. Use a 1- to 1½ -inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out scones. Place scones 1 inch apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Reroll dough scraps and repeat process until all dough has been used. (If you don’t have a cookie or biscuit cutter, you can shape the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick, and then cut into 20 squares. Or you can divide the dough in half and roll out two 1-inch-thick circles, then cut them each into 10 equal wedges.)
4. Use a pastry brush to paint tops of scones with melted butter, and then sprinkle with sugar. Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake until scones are golden, 12-15 minutes.
5. Let scones cool on a baking rack. Serve warm with the tea gelée. (Scones can be stored in an airtight container up to 24 hours, or in the freezer up to 12 weeks.)
Robert Wemischner is the author of Gourmet to Go.