Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lavender Earl Grey Tea Scones

I remember when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, my teacher had a chef come in, and show the kids how to make scones.  I was fascinated.  I'd never heard of scones, but they were pretty easy to make, and I loved the process, and, of course, I really loved eating the finished product!  
Flash forward to the other night, I was catching up on "Downton Abbey", and thought that it would be fun to make some scones!  Now, what kind of scones to make....hum....lavender Earl Grey tea scones sound fancy enough to be served to Lady Grantham, and if they're good enough for her, they're good enough for me!
For Easter, my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of teas, and in the bunch was some loose leaf Earl Grey; I'm not a huge tea drinker, so this had been sitting around for awhile.  I do enjoy the occasional cut of tea, especially in the fall and winter, and even have a shelf dedicated to my teas in my kitchen, but I'd been itching to use the beautiful loose leaf tea.
Now then, I had the tea, I just needed the lavender.  I don't live very close to a big city that may sell culinary lavender, so, in times like this, I turn to the internet.  I found this seller, who sold me the lavender I used, very affordable, with low shipping.  Actually, I had such a great experience working with this seller, that I contacted them, asking if I could link their store on this post.  They quickly got back to me, and happily gave me permission to do so.  As a matter of fact, they very generously gave me a coupon code to pass y'all!  If you visit their Etsy store (don't you just love Etsy??  I know I do!), and enter the coupon code HoldTheOnion, you'll get 10% off of any purchase $5 or more (not counting shipping) through September 30, 2014!  I already have a wish list growing.....
Anyway, once the lavender came in, I happily got to work!  These scones have a very delicate, floral flavor and the lavender is  subtle, but definitely shines through!  If you're not familiar with scones, they are basically biscuits, but slightly sweeter.  They are usually served with clotted cream, but I'm not that fancy, Lady Grantham or no!  I simply put some butter on mine, and drizzled it with some leftover honey from a cruise to Jamaica.  
Are you ready to join me for tea?  Lets get started! 
Here is your grocery list for today:
Earl Grey tea
Dried lavender (make sure its safe for culinary uses!)
3 C all purpose flour
1/3 C sugar and about 1 TBS for sprinkling
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes and thoroughly chilled 
1 1/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C heavy cream, for brushing over the tops of the scones

As always, preheat the oven to 425*, now, to start with the fun, take 1 tsp of the Earl Grey tea (if you only have, or can only find, the tea in bags, that's fine, just cut the bag open, and pour the tea leaves out!  No worries!) and 1/2 tsp of the lavender, and put them into a coffee grinder; give them a whirl until you have a powder.  
Set this aside, and put 2 tsp more of the tea into a cup, along with 1 1/2 tsp of lavender and pour 1/4 C of boiling water over this and let it steep for at least 3 minutes.  

While the tea is cooling/steeping, put the flour, 1/3 C sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.  As you can see here, my lack of spacial awareness cursed me here; I started off putting this all in the bowl of my food processor, but this dry mixture alone filled up the bowl.  So, I just pulsed the processor a few times, and made sure that the dry ingredients were well incorporated!  Once this is well combined, add your tea/lavender powder (I added about 1 1/2 TBS extra lavender buds here...I wanted it to be really pretty!), and gently mix everything in together.  After that, I moved it to a larger mixing bowl.
 Isn't cubed butter pretty?  Maybe its just me...anyway....
Dump the butter into the dry ingredients, and either use a pastry cutter, or the tips of your fingers (be careful not to melt the butter with the heat from your finger tips), and cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Basically, you want to take the cubed butter, and mash the cubes into pea sized drops of goodness.  It doesn't have to be uniform, but you don't want to see huge chunks of butter in the mixture.  This picture shows that the butter and flour mixture is almost finished, there are still some large chunks of butter in there, so keep up the good work!
Now then, strain off your cooled tea mixture, and make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add the tea, buttermilk, vanilla into the well of the dry ingredients, and gently fold in.  You want to mix this together, until it is just barely incorporated.  Once the dough has just come together, dump it out onto a well floured counter.  This dough will be somewhat crumbly, and you'll think that it won't come together, or that maybe you did something wrong.  It is normal, and you didn't, its fine!  Try to handle the dough as little as possible, and form it into a rectangular-ish shape.  At this point, you can cut the dough into any shape you want.  I have a circular biscuit cutter, so that's that's what I used, but if you have a pretty cutter you want to use, have at it!  Or, if you don't have a cutter, you can easily just cut these with a knife, into wedges!


Now that you have your scones all lined up on a nongreased sheet, generously brush the tops with the heavy cream, and sprinkle a little sugar over the tops!


Slide these bad boys into the preheated oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they turn a soft golden brown.  While I waited for these to bake, I figured if there was ever an appropriate time for a cup of tea, today would be it!  So I took my favorite tea cup, and brewed some Earl Gray for my lovely scones!
Oooohhhhhh my, this is what I had, about 18 minutes later.  The house was perfumed with a subtle lavender smell, laced with tea, and, of course, baking.  I was in heaven.  

These are so good, the lavender taste shines through, and makes for a special treat!  Like I said earlier, I topped mine with a little butter, and some honey, but my daughter ate two plain, and loved them!  Let me know if you try these, and what your thoughts are!