My favorite Valentine's Days have always been those focused on the platonic love in my life. This year I decided to surprise my Mom and Grandmothers with some sweet treats packaged as a "tea party in a box!" The star component was my Earl Grey scones, a buttery pastry infused with just a hint of the classic tea. In this instructable I will show you how to make the tasty scones and send them out as part of a fun and affordable gift. I hope you try these out and share them with loved ones year round!
Step 1: Step 1: Gather the Ingredients!
For the scones you will need:
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 8 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter
- a heaping 1/4 cup of white sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of milk (reduced to 2/3 cup, as prepared in step 2)
- 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
as for supplies, you will need:
- large mixing bowl
- small saucepan
- measuring cups and spoons
- a mesh strainer or sifter
- cheesecloth or a nylon straining bag
- pastry blender
- mixing utensils
- cookie scoop (optional)
- a scone pan or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- cooling rack
Step 2: Step 2: Infusing the Milk
The Earl Grey flavor for these scones comes from infusing the milk with loose tea. I originally used two teaspoons of Earl Grey Creme for one cup of milk, which resulted in a very subtle end flavor. For future batches, I plan on increasing to one tablespoon for a slightly more pronounced flavor.
In a small saucepan, combine milk and tea leaves. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally (do not let it boil.) Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes, once again stirring occasionally. While the tea steeps, assemble your straining station by lining a fine mesh strainer with cheese cloth (or in my case a nylon-mesh straining bag) and placing it over a bowl or measuring cup. Pour the mixture through the strainer, making sure to retain as much liquid as possible and discard the tea leaves. Allow the milk to chill completely before using it in the scones. The recipe only calls for 2/3 cup of milk, so i recommend stirring any extra into your morning tea or coffee for some added flavor!
Step 3: Step 3: Prepare the Butter and Mix the Dry Ingredients
Measure out the butter and cut it into small pieces. At this point I like to place it in the freezer while I mix the dry ingredients to ensure it is nice and cold when I need it.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. You could also whisk the ingredients if you do not have a strainer or sifter.
Step 4: Step 4: Bringing It All Together (and Preheating the Oven)
This is a good time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Using a pastry blender (or clean fingers), "cut" the butter into the flour mix until it reaches the consistency of fine bread crumbs. Add the sugar, tossing with the pastry blender until fully incorporated. Finally, add the infused milk and vanilla extract, stirring with a fork, until you reach a crumble that holds its shape when pressed together.
Step 5: Step 5: Forming and Baking
If you are planning on making scones or biscuits with any regularity, a scone pan is a wonderful thing to have. Lightly grease the pan with butter or non-stick spray and portion the dough into each segment with a cookie scoop. Press the dough into the pan, filling each segment 3/4 of the way full (this is what creates the signature crumbly texture.) If you do not have a scone pan, turn the dough out onto a clean surface and form a circle (or two circles) and cut into the desired amount of wedges. Place the wedges onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You could also experiment with different shapes and sizes. I had a little bit of dough leftover that I formed into a heart for my mom. Bake the scones in a 425 degree oven. The time will greatly depend on what size and shape you create; the pan scones took around 18 minutes while the heart only took 13. I would begin checking at the 10 minute mark, looking for browning around the edges. Once removed from the oven, allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, and then completely on a cooling rack.
Step 6: Step 6: Mailing (or Eating)
Congrats, you're done with the baking! The final result is a buttery, not-to-sweet pastry that is perfectly paired with your favorite tea. All that's left to do is enjoy, or send to a friend. To create my "tea party in a box," I filled a small, USPS flat-rate shipping box with some of the afternoon tea essentials; two scones, an assortment of tea bags, handmade coasters, napkins, chocolate (not pictured) and a teeny-tiny jar of jam. I stuffed the very little remaining space with tissue paper to prevent any movement and decorated the boxes with stickers. All of my boxes arrived in tack to very pleased recipients. I loved this project and hope to do something similar seasonally (pumpkin scones in the fall anyone?)
I hope you found this helpful and give the recipe a try. I also wanted to credit this recipe, which served as the initial base for mine http://www.food.com/recipe/simple-sweet-scones-66409