English food has a terrible reputation, and perhaps at one time it was deserved. But even then the food had its glories. Or, if “glories” is too strong a word, then it certainly had its genuine successes.
The ones that occur to me are more low cuisine than haut cuisine, but nevertheless properly made fish and chips is hard to beat with its crisp batter coating delicate cod. And whomever it was that came up with the idea of sprinkling malt vinegar on it should have been knighted. I’ve long had a love affair with Cornish pasties. As I recall, I was so taken with the first one I ate that I ate two more in rapid succession. A pastie and a pint is one of the best meals in the world.
Then there are sausage rolls. Marvelously greasy things that probably shorten your life by a week for every one eaten — but worth it.
If I seem focused on pub fare, it’s because I was dirt poor when I was there and couldn’t afford anything else. But I didn’t feel deprived, I enjoyed everything I ate. Including the scones I had at the one fancy tea I enjoyed. The strawberry jam that was more strawberry than jam and the double cream were memorable, but as a Southerner it was the scones that captured my attention. They were heavier than the biscuits I’d grown up eating, but they were also much richer.
This morning as I drank my coffee I got a powerful urge for a scone. And as I pondered a bit, I decided my urge was specifically for a cinnamon scone. So I made a batch.
Buttermilk Cinnamon Scones with Raisins
2 c all purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1 c buttermilk
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp butter — melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp butter — cold, cut into 1/4″ cubes
Heat oven to 425F.
In a food processor, pulse togetherÂ the filling ingredientsÂ untilÂ mixture resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
Place flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Stir in raisins. Add buttermilk and melted butter and mix together with a fork. You may need to add a bit more buttermilk — about a tablespoon — to get it all to come together. But be careful not to make the dough too wet.
Turn dough out on a generously floured board and knead lightly about 1/2 dozen times. Pat dough out into an 7″ x 9″ square. Sprinkle half of the rectangle with the cinnamon mixture leaving edges bare. Fold uncovered half over and press edges to seal. Pat out into 7″ x 9″ rectangle again, fold again, and pat out again.
Cut into 6 cakes and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in center of oven for 12 to 15 minutes until browned. Serve warm.
Note: Handle dough gently to avoid too much gluten formation.
KevinÂ Weeks is alsoÂ a Gather food correspondent (Paisano), personal chef, cooking teacher, and writer in Knoxville, Tennessee who spends too many hours on his feet, cooking. “Paisano” is a column focused on peasant dishes from around the world. To read more of Kevin’s writings or connect to him click here. His blog, Seriously Good, is read by 50,000 cooks a month.