There is a friend of mine who has been patiently asking me to share the recipe for tart cherry scones I made for an event last Valentine’s Day. As a little holiday gift, you’ll find it at the end of this post, but first let’s talk about coffee breaks since these are really the heart of the matter.
What do you think when you hear “coffee break”? A quick run to Starbucks? Warming a cup in the microwave to get you through the afternoon? A special time to catch up on communication with a friend, family member or colleague?
Afternoon breaks for a hot beverage have been a part of my life for about as long as I can remember. My mother brought back an affection for preparing afternoon teas as part of her experience as an exchange teacher in Wales before I was born. When I traveled to Australia as a teenager, morning and afternoon “coffee” was part of a ritual I enjoyed at school and at home. The Aussies called it “coffee” even if they had tea or another beverage. I was particularly impressed that it was a time that brought families, siblings and neighbors around the table for solid communication. Cultures with these similar British roots placed a value on taking a break, sipping a hot beverage and pausing for conversation and connection.
It’s unfortunate that here in the US we tend to work through our lunches and coffee breaks more often than we would like to admit. I’m guilty of it too. Today I remind myself that taking a real pause for a beverage and to honor somebody else by listening and sharing is worth doing more often.
The holiday season is a great time to begin. Invite someone for coffee or tea, and give yourself a break too. You can meet at a coffee place, or invite them over. If you have children around, invite them to share a break at the kitchen table with you. If you really want to make it really special, bake up some scones with the recipe below. This recipe comes from my friend Eve Hill who is a local expert on the custom of high tea. This is the best recipe I have found for scones.
Eve Hill’s Kensigton Palace Scones
1/2 C veg. shortening (Crisco)
1/3 C butter
2 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 T baking powder
1/3 C Milk
1 beaten egg
Optional: dried tart cherries, raisins or apricots
Sift together flour, sugar salt and baking powder. Mix with butter and shortening using a pastry cutter until crumbs are about the size of peas. Add milk and egg, stir lightly with a fork until just barely mixed. Add dried fruits if desired. Do not over mix! Turn onto a floured surface and knead 8-10 times, folding over entirely onto itself on the last kneading. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch height and cut with a heart shaped or round biscuit cutter. Bake on middle rack of oven at 415 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden. An egg wash or 1 egg and 1/4 C water may be brushed on the tops before baking to give scones a more traditional finish. Serve warm with butter, jam and clotted cream.
Note: Cut unbaked scones can be frozen for convenient baking as needed.