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How To Be A Downton Abbey LadyNerd: How To Make a Cream Tea

A LadyNerd's guide to making cream tea.

How To Be A Downton Abbey LadyNerd: How To Make a Cream Tea

Greetings, LadyNerds!! It's time for the final LadyNerd informative post about how to achieve proper Downton Abbey LadyNerd status! Series Two of Downton Abbey is winding down here in the States; we're all concerned about the state of Matthew's penis, and the last episode will air this Sunday. It's time to put all the things you've learned to good use and have yourself a kickass celebration on Sunday night!

Hopefully your ratafia is steeping, your invitations have been sent out on your new stationery, your fascinator is perched jauntily upon your head, you have a hand-painted teacup and your marmalade is ready to be consumed! But what are you going to use that teacup and marmalade for? Why, for a Cream Tea, of course! Read on to learn how to make scones, crumpets, real clotted cream, lemon curd . . . and how to make a proper cup of tea.

Here we go with our traditional miniature lesson: lots of people get High Tea and Cream Tea confused. High Tea sounds like it'd be the fancy tea with the little sandwiches and cakes, crumpets and jam, but High Tea is really just sort of . . . dinner. Like, early dinner. It usually consists of something substantial but easy, like shepherd's pie or fish and chips. Its origins are with laborers, who would come home from a long day in the factory or the field and be hungry like a hippo, needing to consume something fast but filling.

Cream Tea is a type of Afternoon Tea, though instead of being served with little cakes and sandwiches, it's often served with scones or crumpets and always proper clotted cream. Cream Tea comes from Devon, where there are also tiny, adorable horses.

They are delightful conversation partners.

Gratuitous photo of a pony.

In this post, we're going to teach you how to make scones and crumpets, plus lemon curd and clotted cream! And we've contracted A Real British Person to show you how to make tea. I KNOW. My mouth is so excited!

HOW TO MAKE CLOTTED CREAM

You want to plan to make your clotted cream and lemon curd (and marmalade) at least a day before you have your Cream Tea, as they need to spend some time chilling out in the fridge.

Ingredients:

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream*
16 ounces of whole milk

* If possible you want to find unpasteurized cream or, if that's impossible, just avoid ultra-pasteurized cream. It's actually illegal in Texas to sell any milk/cream that hasn't been pasteurized, because Gov Goodhair hates me, but I now have the hook up to buy illicit raw milk from a freedom fighter who roams from farmers market to farmers market, providing foodies with milk as nature intended it. However, I didn't have this hookup when I made clotted cream, so I had to go with Promised Land Dairy, which doesn't boil the hell out of its milk. It prefers to bless the hell out of its milk! Oh, ha ha, religion jokes.

I heart dairy.

STEP ONE: Combine the cream and the milk in the top part of a double boiler (or, if you don't have a double boiler, a small saucepan that will fit over a slightly larger saucepan), stir a bit to blend, and then cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a cool place (45-50 degrees) for 24 hours. This will give the cream time to rise to the top. (If you live in Texas and therefore have no cool place to put anything, your fridge'll do.)

STEP TWO: After the 24 hours are up, start heating up the water in the bottom part of the double boiler (or a slightly larger saucepan). Now, this is the only tricky part of this whole endeavor. The water needs to stay fairly constant at 180 degrees F. On my electric stove, this required me heating the water at medium-low heat (level 3) for thirty minutes. Your mileage may vary.

Use a candy thermometer or, even better, an instant thermometer to make sure your water reaches 180 degrees and no hotter.

STEP THREE: Place the top part of the double boiler (the part with the milk and cream) over the water. Let it cook there for an hour and a half, making sure to monitor the temperature every so often. Do not stir or otherwise molest the cream/milk mixture.

After an hour and a half, your cream should look like this.

STEP FOUR: After your cream has taken on a creamy yellow color, take the top part of the double boiler off and immediately put it into a larger bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, put the pot in the fridge to let it completely cool. After about a half hour, take the pot out of the fridge. Using a skimmer or a flat slotted spoon, GENTLY AND CAREFULLY skim the top layer of the cream off and put it in a bowl. That's the clotted cream! Keep the bowl covered and in the fridge.

STEP FIVE: Repeat step three and step four at least one more time. I did it three times altogether.

At the end of all that, you should have a bowl of clotted cream!! Put it in a nice little jar or serving bowl, cover and keep refrigerated until use. It'll last about 4-5 days.

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD

True fact! I LOVE LEMON CURD. It is one of my favorite condiments. I wish I could conceivably carry a jar of it around with me and put it on everything I eat. Lemon curd is my buttery, fat-filled version of Frank's. I would put that shit on everything.

Lemon curd is really not as daunting to make as it may seem. The key is to be patient and not rush anything. And to try not to eat it all while you're making it. That's really the key.

Ingredients:

5 egg yolks
1 c sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
1/2 c butter, cut into very small pieces and chilled

Pro Tip! If you are baking something or making anything that is meantto be rich, don't scrimp on butter. Use butter that gets 100% of its calories from fat. You only have the one life, after all.

STEP ONE: Bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

STEP TWO: In a very clean metal bowl that can fit over the saucepan, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk them with a balloon whisk for about 1 minute, or until the mixture looks smooth and light yellow.

Before . . .

. . . after

STEP THREE: Add lemon juice and zest and whisk to incorporate.

STEP FOUR: Reduce the heat under your simmering water to low and place themetal bowl over the simmering water. Whisk continuously until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and coats the back of a wooden spoon. This will likely take anywhere between 8 to 12 minutes. Remember: patience.

STEP FOUR: Remove the bowl from the heat and start whisking in the small pieces of butter. You want to add one small piece of butter at a time and whisk until it's completely melted. This will take longer as the bowl cools. Remember: patience. Think of lemon curd as your way of experiencing a Downton Abbey atmosphere in which you don't have the right to vote and your ex-boyfriend's penis may or may not be operable in the future. Patience is a virtue when it comes to curd. Patience is a curdtue. I'm pretty sure I just made up a new cuss word there.

We are whisking. We have always been whisking.

STEP FIVE: Using cheesecloth or a small mesh strainer, strain lemon curd into another bowl or a glass jar. This ensures that your lemon curd stays smooth and keeps any stray bits of lemon pulp or actually cooked eggs from tainting your wonderful curd.

STEP SIX: Cover your bowl/jar/whatever with plastic wrap, pressing down gently so that the plastic wrap touches the top of your lemon curd. This keeps your curd from forming a weird film on the top. Refrigerate for at least four hours and up to a week.

A jar full of miracles.

HOW TO MAKE SCONES

Oh, scones. Some people hate scones because some people hate joy. Everyone else understands that scones are JESUS'S SNACK. Some people wonder what separates scones from biscuits. Most people will tell you it's that scones are slightly drier and usually include fruit, nuts or various other snacktime fun within them. All of this is true, but what really separates scones from biscuits is that biscuits should always be made with lard. Always, always, always. If you aren't making your biscuits with rendered animal fat, what is even the point of living?

A basic scone recipe can last you for the rest of your life - you can customize it endlessly with little fuss and no math. I decided to make two types of scones for my cream tea: cranberry orange scones and bacon, apple and cheddar scones. You can, of course, also go very traditional and add just currants. The world is your delicious, triangle-shaped oyster!

Basic Ingredients (this will make 12 scones):

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 TBS butter, cut into small pieces
4-5 TBS sugar
1 cup buttermilk*

*If you can't find buttermilk, move to the South. If you can't do that, make your own: 1 tbs lemon juice per cup of milk. Let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes.

All of my ingredients, plus extra stuff for noms.

I'm going to spell out the regular steps and then discuss how to make the particular scones I made after that!

STEP ONE: In a large bowl, blend the dry ingredients together using a fork or a whisk to properly mix everything.

Pro Tip! Anytime a recipe calls for flour, you should scoop the flour out with a spoon and put it into the measuring cup. Just dipping your measuring cup into the flour does not actually produce the right amount of flour called for.

STEP TWO: Using your fingers, blend the butter in with the dry ingredients. Just like with the curd, patience is key: make sure one piece of butter is blended before adding another piece. Your dough should now resemble bread crumbs: slightly clumpy, but not wet.

STEP THREE: Stir in the buttermilk. Don't overstir - 30 seconds will do it. You want the dough to just come together.

STEP FOUR: Turn out your dough onto a floured surface. Don't go crazy handling this dough - just pat it out into a flat, but thick, circle.

Pro Tip! Befriend an awesome set of people. Have a birthday. Have these people give you a marble pastry board for said birthday. Use it for everything. Think idly about how you could probably use it as a weapon, since it would surely shear an intruder's head off with its heft. Remember that you have a gun, if only to spare your perfect pastry board from being besmirched by some hooligan's blood.

STEP FIVE: Using a sharp, floured knife, cut your circle into triangles. Don't saw your dough - you want a quick, clean cut. This will help your scones rise.

STEP SIX: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Now! Customizations!!

For Bacon, Apple, Cheddar scones:

1.  Grate about 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Use real cheddar, here - this is no time for store-bought, pre-grated, bagged crap.

2.  Cook about 4 to 5 strips of nice, thick cut bacon until crispy. Cool and then crumble into small pieces.

3.  Peel, core, slice and chop 2 apples into small, bite-sized pieces.

4.  Add all ingredients into your scone mixture AFTER you cut in the butter but BEFORE you add the wet ingredients.

5.  Mix in 1 TBS of dijon mustard with your buttermilk before adding it to the scone mixture.

Savory and filling!

For the Cranberry Orange Scones:

1.  Measure out 1 cup of fresh cranberries or, if unable to find fresh, 1 cup of thawed frozen cranberries. (Pro Tip! When fresh cranberries are in season, buy a few bags and freeze them. It is life's great cruelty that all of the fruits with which cranberries pair best are in season during the spring and summer.)

2.  Zest one orange.

3.  Add both ingredients into your scone mixture AFTER cutting in the butter but BEFORE adding the buttermilk.

4.  Add 1 additional TBS of sugar into your mix to cut some of the cranberries' tartness.

Colorful and bursting with flavor!

HOW TO MAKE CRUMPETS

Crumpets, crumpets, crumpets. They look like English muffins and taste like tiny pieces of heaven. This was my first experience making crumpets, but I promise you I'm going to make them pretty much every weekend for the rest of my God-given life. Which, if I keep eating these, will not actually be that long.

Crumpets are pretty easy to make - if you can make pancakes, you can make crumpets! So why aren't you making some RIGHT NOW?

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c lukewarm water
1 c lukewarm milk
2 tbs melted butter
3 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt

STEP ONE: Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix on high speed for two minutes.

STEP TWO: Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place for an hour. The mixture should rise, change textures and be filled with bubbles.

Not a great photo, but . . . bubbles!

STEP THREE: Heat up a griddle on medium heat. Spray a little oil on the surface of the griddle to ensure that the crumpet batter doesn't stick.

STEP FOUR: Grease some English muffin rings* and place them on the griddle. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, scoop out just under 1/4 cup of batter and pour it into the rings.

*Don't have English muffin rings? Neither do I. You should be able to cut the top and bottom off some tuna or cooked chicken cans and use those. Obviously you'll want to wash those tins before using them. Now, if you don't have a can opener that happens to cut cans correctly, you'll end up with your hands cut to hell and a jagged-edged muffin ring that is likely to give you tetanus. But what's the point of cooking without adventure, am I right?

These jagged edges make your crumpets worth it. YOU WILL BLEED FOR THESE.

STEP FIVE: Let the crumpet batter cook for about 3-4 minutes before removing the muffin ring. By that point, the crumpet should be set and will hold its shape. Cook the crumpet until the edges are dry and the bubbles on the top are forming. Then, flip it over just like you would a pancake, and cook it about 4 more minutes on the other side.

They should be a light golden brown on each side.

STEP SIX: Once the crumpets are cooked, remove them from the griddle and top them with a pat of butter. The butter will melt into the holes in the crumpet and elevate them from serviceable-but-nice treats into HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THIS GLORY THAT I HAVE PLACED INTO MY MOUTH orgasm cakes.

Look! Here's all your treats in one place!

Crumpets and cranberry scones in the foreground, apple bacon scones in the midground, clotted cream and lemon curd in the background. My tummy is growling just remembering this meal.

BUT WAIT!!! You can have your scones and your crumpets, your lemon curd and your clotted cream, but none of it means anything without the most important part: tea!! But you can't take some American's advice on how to make tea! Therefore, FYA has hired a Genuine British Person to explain how to brew a proper cup of tea! So take it away, British Correspondent!

Here is all of my Cream Tea together! Get in my tummy, food!

Clearly this would soothe someone whose face was blown off in the war.

And that's it!! We hope you've enjoyed our Downton Abbey LadyNerd series! Never fear; we'll find even more ways for you to embrace your LadyNerdism when Downton Abbey enters its haitus, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the last episode of the season and have one hell of a party this weekend! Don't forget to visit our brother site, Badass Digest, next week when Meredith, Film Crit Hulk and I will wax rhapsodic on the season finale and the season in general in our weekly TV Talk sessions!

 

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Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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