Dorcas Annette Walker
There is something relaxing about sitting down on my front porch in a rocking chair in the middle of a hot summer day and drinking a cup of hot tea. Just stopping for a few minutes helps reprioritize one’s schedule and enjoy the world around you. No wonder the English take their teatime seriously. When my niece, Stacy was an exchange student this past semester over in England her one professor told her that he would wait until after teatime to start the class so she wouldn’t miss her tea. Can you imagine one of our American professors doing that? I blame my English genes for feeling the need to take a short break every afternoon.
My great grandfather Smith stowed away on a ship from Liverpool England as a child and spent most of his life on the sea until he married and settled down here in America. Grandpa Smith was never able to get the knack of driving a car after years on a ship. Our favorite story was Grandpa Smith trying to learn to drive. Behind the wheel of his model T Ford Grandpa Smith would forget that he wasn’t at sea when he’d go to turn the wheel for a curve. Thinking he was on a ship he would instinctively spin the steering wheel and turn the car over on its side every time. The passengers would have to crawl out through the window flaps and help turn the model T Ford upright again.
The Duchess of Bedford is credited with being the creator of the teatime when she suffered a faint spell one afternoon and had her servants bring her a pot of tea and some breadstuff. Prior to this the English had two main meals; morning and evening. She liked her snack so well that soon the Duchess invited her friends to join her for tea and the practice was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. There are three basic types of afternoon or low tea; Cream Tea (tea, scones, jam, and cream), Light Tea (tea, scones, and sweets), and Full Tea (tea, savories, scones, sweets, and a dessert). Today in England most tea rooms serve tea from three to five o’clock.
My flat pie-shaped English Scones give a British flair to any afternoon tea with their soft crunchy texture tasting more like a biscuit rather than a cookie. These English Scones go well with any flavor of tea. You can make the scones plain; add nuts of your choice, dried fruit, or currants. My English Scones take ten minutes to prepare and this recipe makes twelve scones.
2 c plain flour
½ c sugar
1 tb cream of tartar
¾ tsp baking soda
6 tb butter
½ c chopped nuts
1 tb milk
Mix together the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, and nuts. Cut in the butter and add the eggs and milk. Form the dough into a ball and pat out into a circle on a greased 12 inch pizza pan. Sprinkle sugar on top and cut into twelve slices. Bake for fifteen minutes at 350º until golden brown. Serve with your favorite tea!
Weekly tip: A proper English tea is made by seeping teabags in hot water in a teapot. Pour the tea into china teacups adding sugar and milk or a slice of lemon!