It’s a blessing and a curse, being with someone who loves food as much as you do. A curse because of the inevitable weight gain that results from eating a lot of cheese; a blessing…for so many reasons. You know — brie, camembert, weird Wensleydale varieties.
Our story is a long path studded with pubs and restaurants, coffee shops and stores filled with local produce and good beer. It took a while, with months of not talking, then hours-long phonecalls, both of us too idiotic to know the other’s feelings. It featured a lot of chai teas, and these days a lot of scones. We got there in the end.
I’m not sure why I expected making chai scones with our story in mind to be a smoother process.
Two recipes, both alike in dignity, in fine Norwich, where we lay our scene…
I’m kidding. The scene was me standing in the kitchen, rubbing my temples and trying to work out a happy middle ground for these scones — something that’d satisfy the traditionalists, but also my urge for a spiced afternoon treat.
The two recipes I played with contain masala chai, which translates to “spiced tea” — a fact that makes us calling it chai tea, and therefore tea tea, a little silly — and is most usually a blend of green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. The smell of autumn. The smell of downtime with my man.
One recipe, Jamie Oliver’s, features an egg, more baking powder, and very little sugar. By contrast, the Booths recipe makes a sweet and quite wet dough, with only a small quantity of baking powder, so that you don’t get that familiar horizontal seam you’d expect on a scone, but you do get a pleasingly light, soft crumb.
They both go well with toffee apple curd from Scarlett & Mustard, which I picked up in one of those odd little shops.
My heart lies with the Booths recipe, with which the chai shines through. The recipe is not yet perfect. But I trust that I’ll get there in the end.
Adapted from Booths, yields 10 scones
65g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants)
4 chai tea bags
225g self raising flour
75g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50g butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 orange, zest only
Splash of vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1tbsp demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Place the raisins and one tea bag in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water, stir and set aside while you make the scones.
- Pop the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
- Add the orange zest and the tea leaves from the remaining three tea bags, and stir them in.
- Strain the water from the raisins, remove the tea bag and add the raisins to the dry mixture.
- Make a well in the dry mix and pour in the milk and vanilla extract. Bring the dough together using a butter knife or small spatula.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to around 3cm thick.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and use a cutter about 6cm in diameter to cut 10 scones, re-rolling the dough when needed.
- Transfer the scones onto the lined baking tray and brush the tops with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over them.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until risen and golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before placing on a wire cooling rack to cool.
- Serve as you wish — but I’d recommend with creme fraiche and apple curd!