Queen Elizabeth’s Drop Scones (Recipe)

Call them drop scones, Scottish pancakes or griddle cakes: They’re delicious with strawberry compote and ice cream

All you closet royalists no doubt caught some of the highlights of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last Sunday. In case you missed it, more than a million people, undaunted by the rainy weather, thronged the banks of the Thames to wave wet flags at the Queen as she drifted by on the gilded Royal Barge, followed by a flotilla of a thousand boats. There she was, 86 years old, dressed in shimmery white and standing in the drizzle for hours on end, smiling and waving as she has for the past six decades. When it comes to pomp and pageantry and never giving in, the Brits have it down.

My brother, who still lives in England and is not given to emotional displays (he is British, after all) was so impressed by the Queen’s undimmed sense of duty, he went so far as to suggest an absolute monarchy might not be a bad idea at this point. “I’d rather have a feisty old bird with a sense of humor running the show than that bunch of self-seeking halfwits in Parliament,” he announced before heading off to the sofa for a Jubilee snooze.

Anyway, this blog is the Accidental Foodie rather than the Accidental Immigrant (another story altogether), so to mark the Jubilee in an Anglo-American way, here’s a recipe for drop scones that the young Queen Elizabeth served President Eisenhower when he visited Balmoral in 1959. According to the British National Archives, it’s a family recipe, and she made them for him herself. Don’t tell Her Maj, but I’ve adapted it slightly. You can eat the drop scones with syrup (golden or maple), but served with strawberry compote and a scoop of vanilla ice cream they’re a lovely summery dessert, fit for… anyone.

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Queen Elizabeth’s Drop Scones Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup of superfine sugar (or a little more if you use granulated sugar)
1½ cups whole milk
2 Tbsp butter

  1. Beat the eggs, sugar and about half the milk together in a bowl. Sift the flour into another bowl, whisk in the baking soda, cream of tartar and salt to blend, then make a well in the center, and sir in the beaten wet ingredients. Gradually add the remaining milk, whisking to make a fairly thick, smooth batter.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat. Coat with a little unsalted butter. Cooking in batches, use a large dessert spoon to pour small amounts of batter onto the hot griddle or pan, giving them space. They should be about 3 inches across. (You can make neater round ones if you pour from the spoon’s pointed end.)
  3. Cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles rise to the surface, then use a metal spatula to flip them. Cook the other side for 1 or 2 minutes until they’re golden brown. Keep each batch warm by wrapping them in a clean tea cloth or napkin.

Quick Strawberry Compote Recipe

1 lb strawberries
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

  1. Cut the strawberries in half (or in quarters if they’re big), and put them in a pan with the sugar and lemon juice over low heat. When the sugar dissolves, turn up the heat and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Cool.
  2. For a little zing, you can add a few drops of a syrupy balsamic vinegar. The compote will keep for a couple of weeks, refrigerated.

P.S. Eisenhower is said to have enjoyed the queen’s drop scones so much that he asked for the recipe, which she sent him.

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