Serious tea drinkers and wellness enthusiasts celebrate “National Hot Tea Month” in January. During the month, many extol the virtues of tea drinking for health reasons: Studies show that drinking tea can counteract tiredness and benefit work performance; can support cardiovascular health; and can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Others celebrate the rich culture and history of tea, its many diverse types, and its soothing qualities, noting that "drinking tea is the perfect way to start the New Year with a sound mind and body." None of this comes as a surprise to Irish tea lovers, including myself, who love a cuppa as much for the drink as for the “sweet” that comes with it! Here’s one from my cookbook Teatime in Ireland for you to enjoy in January and beyond! To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com
LEMON-GINGER DROP SCONES
Makes 10 to 12
This recipe breaks from the traditional round scone shape and requires no kneading, rolling, or cutting. Simply mix up the dough and drop onto a baking sheet. Another break from tradition, the recipe uses yogurt instead of either buttermilk, milk or cream; crystallized ginger chips add a bit of zing!
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 ounces cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Milk, for brushing tops
Sparkling sugar, for sprinkling
Softened butter, for serving
Clotted cream and lemon curd, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, cut or work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in raisins, ginger and lemon zest.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, vanilla bean paste and almond extract. Make a well in center, and with a wooden spoon, stir into dry ingredients until mixture forms soft dough. With a cookie dough scoop or large spoon, drop dough onto prepared pan leaving about 2 inches between each. Brush each scone with a little milk and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
4. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve spread with butter; top with clotted cream and lemon curd, if desired.
TO FREEZE: After step 2, place dough rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Freeze until solid. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag; store in freezer for up to 1 month.