Sometimes simple pleasures of life are underestimated or worse still, forgotten. Remember the last time you had a soft, warm scone with lashings of cream and jam accompanied by a fine cup of tea?
Honestly, I didn't until I had one during the 'Devonshire Journey' aboard Puffing Billy heritage train. And right then I decided to scour the city for more – the best, fresh and scrumptious scones.
Scone, a small quick bread of Scottish origin, with jam and clotted cream is a staple of Cream Tea (also called Devonshire Tea or Cornish Cream Tea) and once again becoming increasing popular. You cannot not fall in love with these rather simple delicacies.
In no particular order the places are:
1. Devonshire Journey – Puffing Billy Railway Enjoy fresh scones, cream and jam, a savoury pastry with a cup of tea as your eyes feast on the marvellous view of the Dandenong Ranges. An all-inclusive afternoon tea train ticket costs $60 ($54 concession). The train departs Belgrave station at 2:30pm daily.
Where: 1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave
Contact: 9757 0700
2. Mia Mia Aboriginal Art Gallery The cosy café offers afternoon tea with soft scones, whipped cream and innovative jams and marmalades for a humble $7.50 ($6.50 concession).
Where: The Manor, Westerfolds Park, Fitzsimons Lane, Templestowe
Contact: 9846 4636
3. Miss Marples A favourite tourist stopover, this Old English café offers jumbo scones with fresh cream and jam for $8.50. Be prepared to bump into scores of visitors during weekends and holidays.
Where: 384 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Sassafras
Contact: 9755 1610
4. Columbine Cottage Tea Rooms & Nursery
Columbine Cottage offers morning and afternoon teas, light lunches, local wines, nursery and souvenirs. A freshly baked scone with jam and cream is $5.50, to be enjoyed with a pot of tea ($3) in the midst of colourful flowers.
Where: 90 Neill St, Beaufort
Contact: 5349 2877
5. ARIA bar & lounge at Langham Hotel Apart from soft scones, jam and clotted cream, the signature Tiffin Tea (High Tea) here comes with a range of other delicious offerings like chocolate éclairs, fruit cake, strawberry fruit tart, sandwiches and more. However, it is a little expensive than the rest of the places - $35 per serve – but certainly worth sampling.
Where: 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank
Contact: 1800 641 107
6. Your kitchen - With little effort, you can bake a scrumptious batch at home using this tried, tested and authentic recipe.
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
30g butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, plus more for glazing
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 220C. In a big bowl, sift flour and sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a depression in the centre of the flour mixture and pour the milk and water. Using a knife mix in a cutting motion until the mixture begins to hold together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Prepare a soft, smooth dough. Use a rolling pin to press the dough to about 2cm thickness. Use a 5cm round pastry cutter to cut out the scones. Place the scones on a greased baking tray, about 1cm apart. Brush the tops with a little extra milk and bake for about 12-14 minutes or until golden and baked through. To check, tap the top with fingers – if it sounds hollow, they are ready.