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.