Mar 25, 2015

Tea and Currant Scones: A British Legacy in United States

The British left a legacy in the New World – tea. Americans moved away from being tea drinkers while colonists to coffee drinkers after the Boston Tea Party revolt and American Revolution. The Tea Party movement (see also Tea Party Patriots) has been revived, evolved into a pro-constitutional movement that promotes the return of lost liberties, economic freedom, sovereignty, repeal of income tax, and economic freedom. Tea is not dumped into the Boston bay, but instead enjoyed in homes and restaurants across America. 
Coffee is still huge in popularity in the American West, a tradition continued by ranchers and cowboys (and cowgirls).

Coffee Farmer
Coffee was and still is imported from South and Central America, just like bananas. Then, when Coca-Cola became national and the absence of cocaine was employed, it became a favored American drink, along with other such beverages and soda fountains became national landmarks across the nation. Coffee remained, but tea gradually made its way back into American society. Coffee has its value and following, but tea, today in many forms, has progressed into society's consciousness concerning healthy beverages.
While I like coffee on occasion, especially with breakfast, one is more apt to see me with a mug of tea rather than mug of coffee sitting at my workbench.
Even the old fashioned tea kettle has evolved. Breville is well known for its premium, well-made kitchen appliances; and its Tea Maker is no exception. But, unless I win the lottery tomorrow, I do not think I will be spending $250 for a machine that “brews ideal tea”. It is fully automatic with an auto-start timer, a mechanism that lowers and raises the brew basket mechanically, and a keep-warm function that maintains the proper temperature for up to 60 minutes. It is easy to fill and dishwasher safe (the accessory parts). Cooks Illustrated features a recommendation for various tea making contraptions.
Tea and Scones
The British breakfast is another legacy from the former 'Mother' country. One of them is presented here as a recipe from Cook's Illustrated: British-Style Currant Scones.
Scones are familiar for those who keep Bisquick in their kitchen, one of the recipes available on the packaging. Indeed, the following natural recipe calls for flour and baking soda, but Bisquick can be used to replace those.
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2-1/3 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
¾ cup dried currants
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. Add butter and pulse until fully incorporated and mixture looks like very find crumbs with no visible butter, about 20 pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in currants.
  2. Whisk milk and eggs together in second bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons milk mixture. Add remaining milk mixture in flour mixture and, using rubber/silicone spatula, fold together until almost no dry bits of flour remain.
  3. Transfer dough to well-floured counter and gather into a ball. With floured hands, knead until surface is smooth and free of cracks, 25 to 30 times. Press gently to form disk, using floured rolling pin, roll disk into 9-inch round, about 1-inch thick. Using floured 2-1/2-inch round cutter, stamp out 8 rounds, recoating cutter with flour if it begins to stick. Arrange scones on prepared sheet. Gather dough scraps, form into ball, and knead gently until surface is smooth. Roll dough to 1-inch thickness and stamp out 4 rounds. Discard remaining dough.
  4. Brush tops of scones with reserved milk mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake scones until risen and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer scones to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.
The recipe makes 12 scones.
Americans expand upon the British traditional use of currants in scones by replacing with blueberries or other dried fruit – even bananas; or a combination thereof.

The American and Brit variants are listed at the Cook's Illustrated recipe website.  

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