Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tea for Three at Langar Hall: Mini Scones, A Creamy Scone Topping and a Great Cup of Tea

After our tour of Long Clawson Dairy, my dear sweet friend Karen who had been reading magazines in the car (now that’s a true friend), suggested we head up the road a few miles to Langar Hall for some coffee.  Since I hadn’t been there in some time and Jane had never been, we were quite agreeable to the idea.



Langar Hall is a large country home that is situated at the end of a long lime tree lined drive.  Located in the small village of Langar just down the road from Long Clawson, and about 12 miles southeast of Nottingham, this beautiful hotel is run by Imogen Skirving whose family has owned it since 1860.  Out of financial necessity and under Imogen’s thoughtful direction, this once private residence was gently and gradually transformed into a tranquil 13 room boutique hotel some 25 years ago.

We obviously werent't the only ones that loved warming our bones by the fire.

When we arrived we were shown into the living room and seated by a warm crackling fire.  Too late for breakfast and a little bit too early for lunch, the kitchen still managed to assemble us this beautiful plate of scones with jam and cream.  Since I was on a diet at this time, I had until this point felt I had to shun this English treat, but not wanting to offend the chef, I gladly dove in.
Our mid morning scones

After spending a little time getting to know Jane better and having finished our drinks and scones, the three of us decided to walk around the ground floor of the house.  As we exited the living room , we happened to run into Imogen and her Hospitality Manger, Avishek (Avi) Dubey. 


Jane mentioned to Avi that we were bloggers who would love to see more of the property and take some photos if possible.  Avi could not have been nicer and took us on an extensive tour of the house and grounds.

The main dining room.


One of the smaller dining rooms


If you look closely out the window of this small dining area you can see the headstones from the village's church graveyard which is right next to the hotel.   

The library adjacent to the small dining room above.
 
I've been fortunate enough to have had a couple of wonderful suppers in this room.  I love its  intimacy.

The main stairs up to the guest rooms.

There are beautiful little details throughout this lovely house.

The Cartland room.  Named after romance writer Barbara Cartland, this was the room she liked to stay in when she visited Langar Hall.  This is definitely my favorite room in the house.
Every room has its own personality with great attention to detail.  You really feel like you are a guest in someone's home. 

The Cricketer room.  Ok, on second thought, this has to be my favorite room of all.

The Bohemia room.  Forget what I said before, this is my favorite room for sure.

Oh to lounge in a hot bubble bath in this tub after a night of wonderful food and drink downstairs.

The view across the parking lot.

The chalet. You can actually stay in this little house. We did not go in, but understand that it is very private yet much smaller than most of the other guest rooms. It is just a very short walk to the main house.

The view from the chalet at the top of the garden.

These are just a few of their beautiful guest rooms.  If you are interested in a stay at Langar Hall and would like more information on this child and pet friendly country hotel, please click here.  Thank you so much Avi and Imogen for giving us such open access to your lovely property.  Imogen, I so envy you as you are living my dream.

Since our little tour is now over and while we're on the topic of tea, I thought I’d kind of clear something up for some of my fellow Americans.  If you would like to enjoy some tea or coffee, finger sandwiches and scones, you want to have “tea” or “afternoon tea”, not “high tea”.  High tea is more of a meal which is served on a high dining table (as opposed to a low coffee table) early in the evening.  Food served for high tea is heartier fare than what you find for afternoon tea.  I found out early on living in England that children customarily have their supper early in the evening and it is called tea but it could actually be called their high tea.

Now that we established which tea is which, I thought I’d pass on a recipe that one of my removal men gave me when he was packing my household for our return to the states.  After a couple of days of making tea for him and his crew, he reluctantly told me that even though I was a very nice woman, my tea was the worst he’d ever had.  I had lived in England for over 4 years and no one ever told me that I made a horrible cup of tea until then.  I was more than ashamed.  He took me to the kitchen and patiently showed me how to make a proper cup.  So, even though it may seem simple; I’m going to pass the method on to you.  You never know, you might be like me and be making a horrible cup of tea and not know it.

In order to make a good cup of tea, you have to start with a good quality leaf tea.  Tea bags will do in a pinch, but we are talking a great cup of tea here.

You should always preheat your teapot by pouring in a good bit of piping hot water, swirling it around a couple of times before pouring it out.

 Now, quickly add your tea to the heated pot (one teaspoon for each cup and one for the pot).  Fill it with more boiling water, place the lid on top and let it steep for approximately 1 minute for green tea, 3 – 4 minutes for black and oolong teas, 4 - 5 minutes for herbal tea (I'm an herbal tea girl myself), and 5 – 6 minutes for rooibis and mate. 


If you are like me and don't have a tea cozy, wrap your teapot in a dish towel to keep it hot while it is steeping.


To serve, pour the tea through a strainer.  If you drink your tea with milk, pour the desired amount into the cup first and then pour strained tea on top.  Add white granulated sugar if desired.  Voila! A great cup of tea.

Now that you’ve got a great cup of tea, you’ll want something wonderful to go with it and there’s nothing better than the perfect scone with some jam and clotted cream on top.  Since we can’t get proper clotted cream here in America, and that crap in the jar you can buy in deli section of many stores doesn’t count because, well, it’s crap, we’ll have to improvise a bit.  Thank goodness great jam is widely available here, so buy your favorite and then make the following recipes and have a proper afternoon tea.


Perfect Yeast Scones and Sweet Cream Topping
1 envelope of active yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, chilled
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon white vinegar that has been allow to sit for 5 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle yeast over the water in a small bowl; stir once or twice and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar; blend a couple of pulses to combine.  Add the chilled butter to the flour mixture and blend until it is completely incorporated, approximately 5 – 10 seconds.
With the food processor running, gradually add the buttermilk until the mixture lumps together.  Turn out on a floured surface and knead a few times until it is a smooth elastic mixture that is no longer sticky.  Pat dough out until it approximately 1” thick. 
Dip a 2” diameter biscuit cutter into flour and cut out approximately 24 scones, rerolling and cutting dough until it is all used.
Place scones on a non-stick cookie sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Bake small scones like these for approximately 8 – 10 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
If you don’t want to eat all 24 of these scones, freeze the unwanted portions for later.  To prepare from frozen, remove from the freezer and thaw for approximately 15 minutes and place into a preheated oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until they are golden brown and baked through.
Serves 12 people 2 scones each.
Sweet Cream Topping

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
4 ounces mascarpone cheese

With and electric mixture set to high, whip cream until it thickens just a bit and becomes frothy.  While continuing to whip the cream, gradually add the sugar, whipping until it is incorporated.  Add the mascarpone and continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick.  Serve immediately with warm scones and jam.
This makes enough cream to top 12 mini scone tops and bottoms generously.

Now you are ready for a bit of afternoon tea.  To expand on your tea menu you can also add some small pastries and finger sandwiches. You might want to give your sandwiches the English treatment by lightly buttering the bread, removing the crusts and cutting them into small portions.


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