It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a group of ladies in possession of a free Sunday afternoon, must be in want of a tea party.
Truer words have rarely been spoken. When a group of friends plans a Jane Austen book club meeting, a tea party presents itself as the obvious choice. We got into the spirit by whipping up a double batch of sugary poppy seed muffins and a platter of cheese scones. Friends joined us later, bringing along cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon bites, mini jam tartelets, all manner of cakes, and an array of cheeses. With a spread too generous to be considered dainty, we settled in for movie time. While six hours of Pride and Prejudice might not be everyone’s cup of tea, we had more than enough brilliant sunshine, delicate tea sandwiches, and snarky banter to keep us pleasantly occupied.
Scones are almost laughably easy, which makes up nicely for the rapidity with which they disappear from the table. We found a recipe calling for a clever mixture of yogurt and milk instead of the more traditional buttermilk, which means no annoying leftovers in your fridge tempting you to make buttermilk fried chicken, biscuits, or panna cotta (or causing great personal disappointment when you inevitably find a crusty container shoved in the back of your fridge two months later). After stirring in the grated cheddar and chopped chives, the recipe came together in a moist dough. We upended the bowl over a floured cutting board and kneaded it out into a rectangle about a half an inch thick, cutting it into squares before baking. We recommend using a light hand with the sea salt—the large pyramidal crystals burst with a bright marine flavor that can be as overwhelming in excess as it is delectable in moderation. The scones, hot out of the oven, are fragrant and delightfully cheesy. They are perfectly accompanied by fresh tea and raspberry-apricot jam, a splendid marriage of sweet and savory.
With a fresh pot of Barry’s (of course) and a Harney & Sons vanilla blend masquerading under the name “Paris,” we settled in for a BBC miniseries marathon. The fluffy scones went too quickly, but fun was had by all. We absolutely recommend making a batch of your own and packing them up with a flask of tea for a picnic with your very own Mr. Darcy or Miss Bennet!
Chive and Cheddar Mini Scones
Makes about 40 mini scones (adapted from bobvivant.com)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus more for finishing (we used regular sea salt for baking and Maldon for finishing)
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted and cubed
- 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt, thinned with 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 2 tablespoons cream
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon pan liners.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Stir in the cheese and chives.
- Add the yogurt and stir until the mixture comes together into a dough.
- On a lightly floured board pat the dough into an 8×10-inch rectangle.
- Cut dough into small squares, approximately 1.5″ square and place them 1-inch apart on the lined baking sheets.
- Gently brush the top of each scone with cream and sprinkle lightly with salt. (We used Maldon Salt Flakes.)
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
- Transfer warm scones to a wire rack to cool.