Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Taste of Austen

Five months ago I was in Bath, England. During the tail end of my semester in Scotland, I took a week for a little British holiday, during which I toured up to the Isle of Skye and made short stops in Bath and London, where I saw some old friends. Let me tell you, I never thought I'd be old enough to have "old friends," let alone to see them in far-off places like London, but that seems to be the direction in which things are heading.

But anyways, Bath. As in the sometime setting for Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and the place where Austen herself spent five years of her life. For a Jane Austen fan (like me), going to Bath is a pretty big deal. Not only is Somerset gorgeous, but the city itself is still pretty much as it was during its Georgian heyday. Which means I got to walk the path that Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth walked after they finally admitted they still loved one another, dreamily ambling down the foliage-covered path eating some tasty strawberries and Cheshire cheddar I picked up at the morning market.

Savoury Cheddar scones fresh out of the oven

While I went through the Jane Austen Centre's museum portion once, I had lunch at the upstairs tea room twice. There's just something fun about sitting in an old Regency tea room and making your food selections from a menu of dainties named after Jane Austen characters. My favorite savoury was Mr. Elton's Cheese Scone, which was good enough to momentarily excuse the fact that Mr. Elton is a heel. My favorite sweet? Darcy's Millionaire Shortbread, of course.

I've been wanting to recreate the warm cheese scone served with chive cream cheese for quite some time, and yesterday I finally got around to it. And while there's a little something extra to a scone served in a magical literary place, the homemade version was well tasty, too.

Scones served properly, split with a bit of cream cheese

Savoury Cheese Scones with Chive Cream Cheese
inspired by the Regency Tea Room, adapted from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess

for the scones:
3 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 oz grated sharp Cheddar
1/4 c cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tsbp shortening, in small lumps
1 1/3 c milk
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Stir in cheese. Rub in the fats. Add the milk all at once and mix briefly. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, lightly, to form a dough.
Roll or pat to about 1 inch thickness, then use a cutter or slicer to make 10 to 12 scones. Place on a baking sheet, then brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until risen and golden.

for the chive cream cheese:
8 oz cream cheese
fresh chopped chives

Beat together the slightly softened cream cheese and chives. Try to make sure the mixture is pretty even, then dish it up into a pretty little bowl and serve with the warm scones.

Perfection.

1 comment:

Amy's Mom said...

You make it sound so wonderful, I want to go to Bath! The scones were delicious.