Afternoon Tea, anyone?
The other day I went for tea. The traditoinal afternoon tea that you read about in classical novels and brings up pictures of Victorian women in bustles and corsets leisurely sitting in a fancy tearoom gossiping about so and so. I like tea, not as much as coffee but still enough to have it at home. Afternoon tea is definitely not something I have on a normal basis, but usually reserve for a once a year. I spent my afternoon with my mother at The Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC Canada, world renowned for its afternoon tea service. We requested that one of the tea services be gluten and dairy free which they were happy to accommodate us with.
Now I don’t know if you are truly familiar with afternoon tea but it is a delightful experience. Naturally tea is included and copious amounts consumed over the course of the meal, but I think the best part of a tea service is the finger food. Usually served on a three-tier tray the first tier holds small sandwiches such as cucumber cream cheese or curried Moroccan chicken. The second tier is reserved for a scone or two served (traditionally) with clotted cream and strawberry jam and lastly the third tier, which is the sweet goodies like mini chocolate cake and pumpkin cheesecake. All of these are perfectly selected to bring about a feeling of bliss and a squeal of enjoyment.
Today I want to discuss the second tier. The scones. I was sadly disappointed with the scone/biscuit that was served with my tea, to the point where I did not eat it. I cannot necessarily lay the blame on the chef at the Empress Hotel as I do not know if they make the scones in house or not, however I think that they need to rethink the one that was served. It was crumbly,dry, bland and slightly reminiscent of Irish soda bread. Even with he help of the jam and the mango tapioca that was served in place of clotted cream it was still a failure. Everything else was lovely, just not the scone. So right there and then a eureka moment happened and I figured out my next blog post. Gluten free vegan scones!!
I have made scones before, though with wheat flour and thought I should be able to replicate the flavour and texture with a gluten free blend. These definitely were much better then the ones at the Empress. They fluffed up nicely and held their shape. Once cut open the inside was slightly spongy and did not crumble in my hands. I am rather pleased with these. I also decided to make three flavours. A rosemary-lemon which I served with rose champagne jelly, a peppered version to go with fig cabernet jam, both of which were served with whipped coconut cream and lastly some plain ones to be eaten with a delicious vegan leek and potato soup courtesy of my mother in honour of St. Davids Day.
For me this is a nice first step into my month of veganism and cannot wait to regale you with more fantastic recipes!
Makes 7-8 Cook time: 8-12 minutes Total time: 1/2 hour
2 Cups gluten free flour, I used 1 1/2 cups Bobs Red Mill 1-1 blend and 1/2 cup of garbanzo fava flour
2 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
4-5 Tbsp vegan butter, I used Earth Balance, cut into small cubes
1/2 Cup non-dairy milk
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Sifted dry ingredients into a bowl.
3. Add the butter and mix to a crumble with your fingers or a cutter. The texture should resemble small crumbs or sand.
4. Make a hole in the centre and pour in the milk. Either mix with a wooden spoon or use a stand mixer. Mix until dough starts to combine and is sticky to the touch.
5. Dust your surface with flour and turn dough onto it. Knead gently 5-6 times. At this time you can add in flavours if you want. I made rosemary-lemon, pepper, and plain ones.
6. Stretch out until dough measures 1 inch in height. Use a dusted cookie cutter to cut out scones. Place on baking sheet.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Continue to cool on a cooling rack.
8. Serve warm or store for a later date. Will last roughly for a few days.
1 Can full fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp agave syrup
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1. Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight.
2. Open can and remove the thick white cream leaving the clearest liquid behind. This liquid can bet used in other recipes and will store in refrigerator for about a week.
3. Whip the coconut solids with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer along with agave syrup and vanilla. Whisk until soft peaks begin to form. Use right away or store in lid tight container up to a week.
Photographs from The Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea