Growing up, I had a thing for the Royal family.
I had coffee table books all about Princess Diana, her wedding to Charles, her boys, William and Harry, along with a video of Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding.
I was one of those girly-girls with a penchant for dressing up, wanting to wear twirly skirts (that whirled out when I spun in circles; I called them turn-y skirts), put on lipstick. I always wanted a tiara.
So, although the inundation of countdowns and articles and television specials and photo galleries leading up to the wedding between Prince William of Wales and Kate (I’m sorry, Catherine) Middleton has been a bit much, my inner eight-year-old girl is kind of loving it. What will the dress look like? What diamond-encrusted tiara will adorn her lovely dark locks? What will the bridesmaids wear? Will they have turn-y skirts?
Outside of the fantasy world, I don’t envy Kate. I’m happy for her and William because they do some genuinely in love, something so clearly missing in the relationship between his parents (though I couldn’t see that as a child). But I wonder too at what she’s giving up for that love. Yes, there are jewels and gorgeous clothes, first-class trips, brushes with celebrity. And there is the paparazzi, the pomp, the expectations, the constantly public life.
No matter, I will be indulging that inner child and tuning in to the wedding.
In honour of that, I’ll be eating scones (and drinking some champagne, of course — though not at 3 a.m. I’m not so devoted that I will wake up that early. That’s why I have a PVR.) as Kate walks down the aisle.
I could eat any version of scones, but I decided to create a recipe that would combine a basic scone with a Welsh cake (which share some similarities with scones, though they are fried instead of baked). My stepfather, who is of Welsh descent, often made these as a Sunday treat when we were kids. (A tradition, thankfully, that continues when I visit my parents.) They have a distinctive flavour that comes from nutmeg and currants. Basically, I wanted to use those flavours. Not just because I love them, but it’s just so fitting.
He is Prince William of Wales, of course. And the couple will start their life as newlyweds in Anglesey, an island off the northwest coast of Wales.
I have to give credit where it’s due, so I will say that Nigella Lawson has changed the way I make scones. Her trick of grating frozen butter is just . . . perfection. I cannot recommend it enough. No matter what scone recipe I use these days, I always, always, always use this technique. Please, try it, I implore you.
This is based on her strawberry shortcake recipe, but has been adjusted.
- 1½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I may go with a tad more next time)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup half-and-half or whipping cream (you may need slightly more)
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar (regular or natural cane sugar), optional
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, currants and nutmeg in a bowl. Grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients and use your fingertips to lightly toss all together. Whisk the egg into the half-and-half cream and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. (I often need another tablespoon or two; I chalk it up to that dry Calgary weather.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then roll gently to about ¾-inch thick. Dip a cutter in flour and cut out as many scones as possible. (Small ones are cute, but sometimes you just want a large scone with lots of room for Devonshire cream and jam.) Work the scraps back together, re-roll and cut more. (Nigella suggests using a 3-inch/6½-cm round cutter to make 8; I used a smaller one and got about 14.) Place on a baking sheet, brush the tops with the 2 tablespoons whipping cream and sprinkle with the remaining sugar, if desired. I used natural cane sugar, which has larger grains.
Bake until golden. Between 10 and 15 minutes for larger scones. Cutting them smaller? Check earlier. Mine took about 9 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Eat with copious amounts of jam and Devonshire cream. Or butter and jam. Or just jam.