A few weeks ago the Austin American Statesman featured an article about an “authentic” British café in South Austin. I’m guessing that the London Olympics may have prompted the paper to feature this establishment. So my Dad read about the FULL ENGLISH CAFÉ (www.fullenglishfood.com ) and suggested that we take my Mom (who is British) to check it out before I have to go back to school.
We decided on an 11:30am arrival. That way we could enjoy breakfast, lunch and/ or high tea. I don’t think I can describe the “vibe” of the place any better than this description from their website:
“We are a relaxed, eccentric, vintage-inspired space for you to enjoy all-day breakfast with WiFi, bring your friends for a High Tea party with cakes, scones and a big pot of Earl Grey; or just to hang out and play the guitar with a nice cup of PG Tips and a bacon butty.”
The menu is primarily breakfast oriented, with plenty of British swagger. Both of my parents smiled when they saw the likes of bangers, Heinz baked beans, fried toast, and Cornish pasties. We decided to share a “high tea”, which I will describe in a moment, and a beef Cornish pastie. Of course, a nice pot of tea was a must to accompany the spread.
High Tea included a pot of tea and tiered platters of sandwiches (cucumber, ham with mustard, and cheese with chutney) and sweets. My favorite was the cheese and chutney – bold English cheddar cheese with a flavorful apple/pear chutney. Dad and I both agreed, however, that the chutney needed a little “punch” of heat or a little more spice to balance the sweetness of the fruit.
The sweets included two scones, two slices of different cakes, a cupcake and two bars. The scones were good, served appropriately with some whipped cream (correctly prepared to fill in for clotted cream – good consistency for spreading and not too sweet) and strawberry preserves. I did, however, wish for currants instead of raisins. I have yet to find any place in America that makes scones with currents.
If you have never had a traditional cream scone with currents, they are lovely – especially with tea. I just made a batch this morning – I’ll share the recipe at the end of this blog entry.
The surprise treats were definitely the bars. I had never had either. First, the English flapjack - a granola type bar with oats. Then my favorite of the sweets, a slice of Millionaire’s shortbread – a layer of shortbread, then a layer of buttery caramel topped off with a layer of chocolate. Delicious! The cake slices were fine (one white with a layer of that buttery caramel, and one chocolate). The cupcake came home for the boys.
Finally, I’ll mention the Cornish pastie, a hand-held pie filled with seasoned beef and potatoes. For $5 it is a real deal and can be eaten hot or cold, especially nice with a side of chutney. The history of this British dish is an interesting read(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasty ). You can see the pastie in this pic (bottom left).
I’m happy to know that there is a place in town that shares British tastes on china, yet in an unpretentious setting. Dad and I both told the owner that we would return. Dad plans on sharing a CD of great British Pub music and I will be taking in a sample of my cranberry chutney as we closer to the holidays for a chutney “trade”.
Here’s my favorite scone recipe—with currants.
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup currants
Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly butter a baking sheet. I use a Pampered Chef baking stone like this one – no buttering needed: (http://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=164&catId=9&parentCatId=9&outletSubCat=)
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or large metal whisk, cut the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, egg and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the currants.
With lightly floured hands, pat the dough into a ½ inch thickness on a lightly floured cutting board. Using a floured round biscuit cutter (or small glass), cut out rounds from the dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Gather scraps together and repeat until all the dough is used. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Remove the baking sheet and cool scones for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the scones to a wire rack to tool. Serve warm or cooled. Store in an airtight container.
** If you want a “glazed” look on the surface of your scones, mix an egg with about 1 tsp. of water. Lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg mixture right before you place them in the oven.