Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'm so glad to say that spring is here, it felt like winter would never end! Although it's still pretty chilly here, the sun couldn't be brighter and cherry blossoms are starting to bloom.

When the weather changes and my birthday approaches, I can think of nothing more than picnics and cream tea in the park. Alice's Tea Cup has become one of my favorite spots for afternoon tea in New York. Their tea list is never ending and the scones and sandwiches are utterly delicious. My particular favorites are their buttermilk or banana berry scones with jam and whipped cream with a lovely pot of lavender Early Grey tea. My husband likes their pumpkin scones and Russian Caravan tea.

The Alice's Tea Cup Book is really worth a look at; it's beautiful. They have gorgeous recipes for scones, cakes and brunches. Being a fan of their Lavender Earl Grey tea, I jumped when I saw their Lavender Earl Grey scones in the book. I couldn't imagine a scone more perfect.

These scones will fill the air with the scent of sweet buttery lavender and take you straight to the south of France. They're just the way scones should be: flaky, soft inside and melt in the mouth dreamy. The lavender is beautiful and floral and the Earl Grey adds a subtle depth to the flavor. It's tea time baked straight into a scone. I added more lavender as the recipe's amount was very slight and too subtle.

I like eating these particular scones warm and fresh with butter, as the flavor is very delicate, but I wouldn't say no to some jam and clotted cream. A cup of Lavender Earl Grey tea is a must with this. Scroll to the bottom for this tea recipe.
Lavender Earl Grey Scones (Adapted from Alice's Tea Cup)
 Makes 10-12
  • 2 heaping teaspoons Lavender Earl Grey tea (scroll down for recipe)
  • Lavender flower buds (my addition to the recipe)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (and extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (cold and cut into cubes)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (for brushing)
Preheat the oven to 425F/220C

Steep 1 heaping teaspoon of the Lavender Earl Grey tea in 1/4 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve the tea.

Using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder, grind a teaspoon of Lavender Earl Grey tea to a fine powder. (I added an extra teaspoon of lavender buds to this- it's worth it!)

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground lavender tea powder. (I added a heaped tablespoon of lavender buds as well for more taste and prettiness) Add the butter and rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until you get a fine breadcrumb like texture.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the brewed Lavender Earl Grey tea.

Combine the mixture very slowly and lightly until the dry mix is wet- do not knead!

Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together very carefully, handling it as less as possible.

Gently pat the dough to make a rectangle or square about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a dough cutter cut the scones into circles or wedges, however you prefer. Lay them on a nonstick baking sheet.

Gather the remaining dough together lightly to cut more scones. Try to touch the dough very little for a beautiful scone texture.

Brush the top of each scone generously with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea: (I make my own, but you can buy the tea from Alice's Tea Cup)
  • Earl Grey Tea Leaves
  • Lavender flower buds (ground roughly with a pestle and mortar)
Whatever amount of Earl Grey you use, you will need 1/2 the amount of Lavender. So for every teaspoon of Earl Grey add 1/2 teaspoon of roughly ground lavender buds, or for a bigger batch add 1/2 cup of lavender to every cup of Earl Grey.

Mix the Lavender and Earl grey together and store in a sealed jar or container.

You can use more or less of the lavender, its completely up to how you like it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I have lovely memories of eating English pancakes as a child, particularly on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Pancake Day. My mother would be flipping these pancakes on that special Tuesday morning for breakfast before my sister and I went off to school. Pancake Day was always something we looked forward to and Lemon and sugar was always the traditional topping of choice.

For me that special Tuesday defined the beginning of spring time: the smell of sweet lemon in the air, the sun shining brightly into the kitchen, and snowdrops propping up like lamp posts in the garden.

I remember making English pancakes for my American husband for the first time. He of course grew up eating fluffy American pancakes with blueberries and had never experienced Pancake Day. I'm happy to say now that his pancake of choice is the English and like me, he looks forward to that special Tuesday in the early spring.

English pancakes are thicker than the French crepes and the lack of sugar in the batter makes them very versatile and can be used as a sweet or savory pancake. The traditional way to serve these is with sprinkled sugar and lots of freshly squeezed lemon, I have always preferred it this way, however any kind syrup, fruit compote, chocolate, cream, or anything that takes your fancy would be lovely.

English Pancakes with Lemon & Sugar 
(makes approx 8)

  • 1 egg,
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk
  • 1/8th teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • White sugar
  • Lemons

Sift the flour in a bowl with the salt.

Make a well in the middle and add the eggs and half the milk, whisking.

Then add the rest of the milk and melted butter, whisk well.

Heat an 8-inch frying pan until hot and then reduce to medium.

Add a very small knob of butter to the pan, spread it around and let it sizzle.

Pour approx 2 tablespoons of batter into the frying pan, tilting the pan swirling the batter to cover the round area of the pan.

Cook the pancake for approx 30 seconds per side.

On a plate sprinkle plenty of white sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice on each pancake and roll it up.

Squeeze extra lemon over the pancakes before eating.

Take in the smell of the beginning of Spring :)

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