Today the world is celebrating the wedding of William, Prince of Wales to Catherine Middleton. Weddings represent dreams of a lifetime of love and partnership, but royal weddings are in a league all their own. Pageantry, elegance, grandeur, beauty and history are all rolled into one moment in time. We have been lucky enough to watch several royal occasions and they never fail to impress. Today is a bittersweet moment, watching as the child of Charles and Diana prepares to wed. All my wishes are with William and Kate for a loving marriage that will last for many, many years to come.
The Artist and I are honoring everything British today, and the only thing missing is the Union Jack flying in front of our house. As we sit watching the amazing festivities taking place across “The Pond,” we are settling in with a tray of incredibly moist and tender scones in honor of the royal family. I know, you may think the only place you can get truly fabulous scones is in England, but you can make outstanding scones yourself in your very own home and save the airfare!
Northern California is truly a remarkable place to live. We have something for everyone. Within a few hours drive, you can enjoy the sights in San Francisco, walk on the beach, go fishing in a river, hike in a redwood forest, go water or snow skiing, or wander through some of the most incredible vineyards in the nation. It costs a fortune to live here but every time The Artist and I think about moving somewhere else, we stop and look around. Those of us lucky enough to have been born here already have a glimpse of what Heaven must be like.
One of our favorite areas is Sonoma Valley wine country. Winding through vineyards on country roads, enjoying the crisp morning air scented with the promise of a warm afternoon, it is simply gorgeous. While much is written about the wine business in Sonoma, the county stretches from the vineyards westward to Pacific Ocean. Dramatic and variable, it is a microcosm of the beauties of Northern California. One of the loveliest locales is the bucolic town of Healdsburg. Full of boutiques, upscale restaurants with talented chefs and Bed and Breakfast inns, it is one of the gems of Sonoma County.
Our favorite place to stay in Healdsburg is the Haydon Street Inn. Run by the delightful couple, John Harasty and Keren Colsten, it is the perfect get-away. The home was built in 1912 and they have filled it with antique items that remind us of a gentler time. You can feel the stress slipping away from the moment you walk in the door. Every afternoon John and Keren host a wine tasting and food pairing, often with one of the local winemakers doing the pouring. It is a chance to relax in the beautiful garden, chat with the other guests and soak in the beauty of the day.
John was the executive chef at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky before heading west. The breakfasts he prepares for his guests are some of the best meals in Northern California. Even with the fabulous restaurants in town, the breakfast at Haydon Street Inn is the highlight of our trips. Every morning I wake up, filled with excitement about what they will serve. It might be fresh fruit from their garden, homemade granola, a creative savory egg dish or Belgian waffles, and if you’re lucky, some of their extraordinary cream scones.
If you think scones are hard, dry, and impossible to choke down, think again. When made well they are tender and moist with a light sweetness that isn’t cloying. John pats the dough out to small rounds, slices them into wedges and bakes up tiny morsels of joy. I could eat an entire basket of them and still beg for more!
Scones are traditionally served at teatime in England and are usually accompanied by strawberry jam and clotted cream. One of my favorite accompaniments is Lemon Curd. Made from lemon juice, butter, eggs and sugar, it is thick and velvety with a lovely tartness from the fruit. Today’s lemon curd recipe is from pastry chef Emily Luchetti. Author of several incredible cookbooks (I highly recommend all of them!), she is one of the most revered Pastry Chefs in San Francisco. Her recipes are clear and concise, with all the information you need for success every time.
Lemon curd is one of those food items that seems mysterious until you make it. You’ll never buy lemon pudding or lemon-pie filling in a box again once you’ve tasted the fresh, clean lemon flavor of homemade curd. This can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or you can preserve it in jars to give as gifts. Sweet and tart at the same time, lemon curd is a present that your friends will beg you for. Have this on hand when you make the scones for a to-die-for treat!
On this wonderful day of celebration, bake up a pan of these scones and sit back, enjoying the festivities marking the beginning of Kate and William’s life together.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
There are two tricks to tender and moist scones. First it not to overwork the dough which develops gluten in the wheat flour. Secondly, you must pull them out of the oven before you think they are done. As with anything baked or roasted, the residual or carry-over heat will finish gently cooking them. If you are concerned, you can leave them in the pan a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as currants, plumped in hot water, drained, and patted dry
- Grated rind from 2 lemons
- 1 egg
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Egg Wash
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp coarse white sugar, turbinado or other raw sugar
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Slice the cold butter into 8 pieces and cut into flour mixture until pea-sized. Stir in the currants and lemon zest.
- In a small bowl, beat egg slightly with a fork. Stir in half & half and vanilla. Pour cream mixture all at once into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to form a soft dough. DO NOT over mix.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or board and knead a few times until smooth. Pieces of butter should still be visible. Roll or pat dough until about 3/4" thick. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or into wedges using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Separate and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Prepare egg wash by beating 1 egg and 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Brush mixture over top of scones and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake at 375°F for 15 to 17 minutes until the scones are puffed and golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs on it. This helps keep them moist. The scones will continue to cook with the residual heat.
- Let cool a few minutes on a wire rack before serving, or hold and serve at room temperature.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 large eggs
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup lemon juice
- Finely chopped or grated zest from one orange
- 1-1⁄2 oz unsalted butter
- Whisk together the egg yolks, eggs and the sugar. Add the lemon juice. Transfer the lemon juice and eggs to a heavy bottomed saucepot.
- Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter. Strain the curd.
- Stir in the orange zest. Place the curd in a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Press down on the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate until cold.