April 27, 2011

{Easy Entertaining} Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones for a Royal Wedding Viewing Party

source:  National Archives
With the Royal Wedding coming up, we've gotten plenty of emails with ideas on how to celebrate this special occasion.  My favorite idea came via the press release for the National Archives' upcoming exhibition What's Cooking, Uncle Sam? (click here for a look at some of the documents).  What could be more appropriate for a Royal Wedding viewing party than Queen Elizabeth's very own family recipe for drop scones?

The Queen with President Eisenhower at Balmoral Castle
source:  Press Association via The British Monarchy Flickr account
According to the press release, "In August 1959, Queen Elizabeth entertained President Dwight Eisenhower at Balmoral Castle near Edinburgh. At a barbecue in the Scottish highlands, the Queen made drop scones for the President using a family recipe. The following year, enclosed in a letter to the President, Queen Elizabeth included an annotated copy of her recipe which is featured in an upcoming exhibition at the National Archives entitled, “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” In her accompanying letter, the Queen suggests substituting treacle (sugar syrup) for caster sugar. Special equipment: teacup for measuring."

When I first looked at the recipe, I wondered, "How do I measure a teacup?" and "What is a drop scone?"  I found a great explanation on measurement equivalents on this website.  At first, I thought a drop scone would be those drier biscuits served with clotted cream. But after reading about it on Wikipedia, I learned that drop scones are closer to pancakes than biscuits.

According to Wikipedia, "Scotch pancakes are more like the American type and are served as such. In Scotland they are also referred to as drop scones or dropped scones.  They are made from flour, eggs, sugar, buttermilk or milk, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.  Smaller than American or English pancakes at about 3.5 in / 9 cm in diameter, they are made by the traditional method of dropping batter onto a griddle (a girdle in Northumberland or in Scots). They can be served with jam and cream or just with butter. In Scotland pancakes are generally served at teatime."

Pancakes for an early morning party? That sounds even more perfect to me!

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones (adjusted to reflect American measurements)
3 cups flour
4 T superfine sugar (or grind regular granulated sugar in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 tsp baking soda*
3 tsp cream of tartar*
2 T melted salted butter
*if you cannot find cream of tartar, you can use 5 tsp baking powder instead of both the baking soda and cream of tartar (source) OR you can substitute just the cream of tartar with 3 tsp of lemon juice (source)

1. Beat eggs, sugar, and half of the milk.
2. Add flour, and mix well together adding the remainder of the milk, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
3. Fold in melted butter.
I added the following steps to complete the recipe:
4. Heat a griddle and drop spoonfuls of batter to make small pancakes.  (Once I see small bubbles form on the pancakes, I know it's time to flip them over).
5. Serve with jam, cream, or butter.

The upcoming exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”, sounds like it would be really interesting.  According to the press release, it "is an exhibition that explores the Government’s effect on the American diet.  Unearth the stories and personalities behind the increasingly complex programs and legislation that affect what Americans eat. Learn about Government’s extraordinary efforts, successes, and failures to change our eating habits. From Revolutionary War rations to Cold War cultural exchanges, discover the multiple ways that food has occupied the hearts and minds of Americans and their Government. The exhibition opens June 10, 2011, in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC."

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