Afternoon tea is a tradition that dates back to 1840. It was started by the Seventh Duchess of Bedford because she became "peckish" around 3pm. She requested a tray to be brought to her filled with tea, bread and cakes. Because she enjoyed this affair so much, she started inviting friends to join her, turning it into a social gathering.
Tea time is typically a very opulent soirée held in some of the most elegant and luxurious hotels all over the world. I recently enjoyed an afternoon tea at The Four Seasons in Chicago and was inspired to create a type of biscuit that could be paired with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, which are both components likely found at any high tea.
I think you are going to LOVE my version of an English-inspired American biscuit (say that 3 times fast)! The recipe itself is simple and uncomplicated but the flavor and texture are sure to make your guests go crazy for more! Let's get started:
Ingredients (makes 12 biscuits)
Flour – 2 cups all-purpose
Sugar – 1 tablespoon
Kosher Salt – 1 teaspoon
Baking Powder – 2 teaspoons
Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon
Butter – 8 tablespoons, very cold, diced
Butter – 2 tablespoons, room temperature for brushing tops
Heavy Cream – 1 cup, very cold
Starting by sifting the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
Using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter until the mixture takes on a "crumb-like" texture.
Add the heavy cream. Using your hands, gently mix until combined. **note: the dough will be very sticky**
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface.
Form the dough into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to be ¾-inch thick rectangle. Evenly cut the dough into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each biscuit with room temperature butter.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Refrigerate the sheet pan with the dough for 30 minutes.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are lightly browned.
Serve either warm or at room temperature.