Whether you're a seasoned baker or a beginner in the kitchen, there's something incredibly comforting and wholesome about baking. Today, we'll be delving into the world of classic British bakes, rediscovering the joy and simplicity of traditional scones and tarts.
A brief history of British baking
British baking has a rich and varied history. Though the exact origins of baking in Britain are uncertain, it's believed that the Romans introduced the concept to the island. However, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that baking really began to take off. This was largely due to the introduction of ovens and the availability of different types of flour and yeast. The British baking we know and love today has been heavily influenced by the Victorian era, when many of our now classic recipes were born.
Classic British scones
Scones are one of the most popular British bakes. They're traditionally served with jam and clotted cream as part of an afternoon tea. But what makes a good scone? A classic British scone should have a light, crumbly texture and a slightly sweet taste. They should be delicious enough to enjoy on their own, but neutral enough to complement the flavors of your favorite jams and creams.
Recipe: Classic British Scones
Here's a simple recipe for classic British scones:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla extract.
5. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until a dough forms.
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it gently a few times to bring it together.
7. Roll the dough out to a 1-inch thickness and use a round cookie cutter to cut out your scones.
8. Place the scones on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
9. Serve warm with your favorite jam and clotted cream.
Traditional British tarts
Tarts are another quintessentially British bake. They're a versatile treat that can be filled with just about anything, from fresh fruit to rich custard. For a simple, classic British tart, you can't go wrong with a lemon tart or a Bakewell tart.
Recipe: Lemon Tart
Here's a classic British lemon tart recipe:
- 1 pre-made tart shell
- 4 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. Zest and juice the lemons.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract.
4. Whisk everything together until smooth.
5. Pour the lemon mixture into the tart shell.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set but still slightly wobbly in the center.
7. Allow the tart to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Baking classic British treats like scones and tarts is a wonderful way to bring a little piece of Britain into your own kitchen. These recipes are relatively simple and require few ingredients, but the result is truly delightful.