Pretty Dishes


The Great Scone Hunt: The History
February 14, 2010, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Scone Hunt

I am obsessed with a very specific scone.

This may appear to contradict my claim that I don’t care much for breakfast, but I swear this recent obsession was very unexpected.

I wouldn’t even call myself a fan of scones in general. I have probably tried about a dozen varieties at different times in my life, such as when I’ve been in a situation where I need to grab something quickly from a Starbucks, bakery, coffee shop, etc. I’ve been pretty disappointed in most of the scones I’ve eaten, usually because they were dry, crumbly, and filled with dried fruits or nuts. They haven’t done much for me in the past, and thus a croissant or other pastry is my go-to in similar situations these days.

Enter a birthday gift from my mother-in-law to visit The Secret Garden Tea Room last July. We enjoyed their many varieties of tea and delicious lunch offerings, all of which come with one of their homemade scones. I ate mine and was blown away. It was moist and dense and just a little sweet (and unadorned). It was without question the best scone I had ever had, and beyond that, I wanted more. I decided to purchase a box of three to take home; they package them with lemon curd, Devonshire cream, and jam—all made on the premises and also incredible. I happily gobbled them up the following three mornings (lucky for me, my husband doesn’t like scones at all). And then I sort of moved on.

However, because we had such a nice time there, my MIL suggested we begin an annual Christmastime tea party tradition with the girls in the family. So the first week of December we made another trip, and of course I was looking forward to the scones for weeks beforehand. I already knew I would be purchasing another box to go. And the scones were even better than I remembered. From that point on I have hardly been able to stop thinking about them when compared to my otherwise uninspiring breakfast options.

Naturally I called the shop and explained that the nearly hour drive each way was pretty inconvenient for regular visits, and was there any way they might be willing to share the recipe? (I promised it was for my own home use.) No, I was told they would not reveal it. (The woman did kindly confirm that they were made in-house from scratch, not using a mix.) Disappointing to say the least, but obviously it is perfectly within their right to keep it secret.

I may try again, asking if they could give me a list of ingredients without exact measures just to put me on the right track for experimenting, but I suspect I’d have to be especially charming and get the right person on the right day, so we’ll see.

In any case, I have made three batches of scones to date (recipes and photos to come in future posts) in an attempt to uncover a match. When they don’t approach greatness, it’s pretty tough not to lose interest, and I usually give most of the batch away. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get it exactly right, but one of the recipes was very close, so there is hope. I’ve considered purchasing a dozen of the real thing, tasting and retasting, and attempting batch after batch of my own until I’m satisfied. I don’t know any professional bakers personally, but I sometimes wonder if one might be able to determine the real recipe by eating one of the original scones. That would be pretty cool.

I will continue on my quest for a scone with just the right moisture, texture, and sweetness, until I get sick and tired anyway. I have listed some potential contenders in The Great Scone Hunt links sidebar. And when I uncover the most worthy of the bunch, I will smother them with the very reasonably priced imported Devonshire and clotted creams I bought from English Tea Store just for that purpose. I can’t wait.

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