Cucumber sandwich heaven!
Cucumber sandwich heaven!
It’s afternoon teatime at Cat’s Mountain Thyme Cookery School in Verbier and we decided to treat ourselves and introduce Claudine to the most English of English traditions. Our mouths started watering even before the cake stand arrived from just looking at the menu. Filled to bursting with delicate finger sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, obviously) followed by a colourful selection of coffee and walnut cake, strawberries, rose water macaroons, shortbread, sticky chocolate biscuit cake, and naturally, plain and fruit scones with jam and Swiss gruyere cream, it was the ultimate English afternoon tea, Verbier style.
To decorate the table there were beautiful china teapots with fresh herbal tea, the healthy bit, and a flute of champagne on the side, the fun bit; well you can’t have afternoon tea without the bubbles, can you? Admittedly I’d been dreaming of cucumber sandwiches for the entire week beforehand, but when it finally came down to it, I discovered a new favourite: celery and walnut sandwiches, crunchy and fresh, all served in bread specially baked in the all-important square tin at the local bakery.
Moving swiftly on from the sandwiches to the cakes and Claudine’s introduction to scones and the age-old disputes: How do you say ‘scone’; to rhyme with ‘gone’ or to rhyme with ‘bone’? And are you a cream then jam person, or a jam then cream person? Tricky!
By the time we’d done justice to the cake stand (and filled a couple of doggy bags for the poor unfortunates who hadn’t joined us!) we’d been there almost 3 hours and finally left at 5.00…just in time to begin aperitif. What a hard day!
Check out Cat’s Scone recipe, or why not try our favourite and make a cheese scone by adding cheddar to the mix?
Makes approx 12
500g ‘OO’ flour (pasta flour) 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 65g chilled unsalted butter, cubed 65g chilled lard, cubed
25g caster sugar 1 egg, beaten 300ml milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 200c
Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.
Rub in butter & lard using only your fingertips, to keep the mixture as cool as possible.
Set aside 1/3 of egg for glazing. Combine rest with milk or buttermilk & cut through mixture with a table knife until soft lumps have formed.
Bring together on dusted work-surface and pat out to 2.5cm deep
Cut out scones without twisting them; then place, spaced apart, onto a lined baking tray and glaze with the remaining egg and a splash of milk.
Bake for 15-20 mins until golden and risen – cool on rack, then enjoy warm with crème de Gruyere and strawberry jam.
The dough can be frozen before cooking, flat on a tray, then transferred to a bag to avoid freezer burn. Defrost thoroughly in the fridge before cooking.