Sunday, February 23, 2014

Welcome our guest, Deb Crombie!

 Please welcome our 
fabulous guest, Deb Crombie!

New York Times Bestselling author Deborah Crombie 
has written fifteen novels featuring Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Inspector Gemma James. She lives in Texas with her husband, two German shepherds, and two cats, and travels to England frequently. Her 16th Kincaid/James novel, To Dwell in Darkness, will be published by William Morrow in September 2014. 
The trade paper release of The Sound of Broken Glass comes out Tuesday!!
Take it away, Deb!

A Proper Scone

I mentioned crumpets the other day on Facebook, and it was clear from some of the comments that many Americans don’t know exactly what a crumpet is. The closest description I can come up with is that crumpets are sort of a cross between what we Americans call English muffins, and what Americans call pancakes. (British pancakes are different, too, but that’s another story…) Crumpets are slightly spongy, firmer than a pancake, and filled with little holes that are perfect for butter. You can butter before or after you toast (I prefer before) then top with some really good jam. A perfect tea-time snack!

Which brings us to scones. I think I need to set the record straight. While the baked pastries you can get at Starbuck’s or La Madeline or Panera are good, they are not proper British scones. A British scone is much more like an American biscuit, but a little sweeter. They often have fruit in them—raisins or currants—and should be served with clotted cream (that’s another story, too) and good jam, preferably strawberry.  If you don’t have cream, butter and jam will do.

This is my favorite scone recipe, from The Laurel’s Kitchen Break Book, published way back in 1984. (The copy in the photo is my second. I wore the first one out, in the hippie-mom-baking stage of my life, before I ever wrote a novel. One of the most charming things about this book are the woodcut illustrations.) 

As these scones are made with whole wheat, you might find something similar in a British health food café. In our house, we have them most often for Sunday brunch, but if there are any leftover they will keep for a day or two. You can split and toast them to have with your afternoon tea.


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda*
1 teaspoon cream of tartar*
½ teaspoon salt
1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I use Succanat) or honey
2 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk at room temperature (I usually add a little more.)
½ cup currants (you can substitute raisins. Currants are better, but I’ve had a tough time finding them in the stores the last few years.)

*If you don’t have cream of tartar, use ½ teaspoon baking soda and 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder.

Preheat oven to 375. Dust a cookie sheet with flour.

Sift flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. (If you use honey instead, stir it thoroughly into the buttermilk.)  Grate the cold butter into the mixture and blend with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture is like oatmeal flakes.  Stir in the buttermilk and currants, and mix gently and quickly until barely blended together. Immediately turn out onto the floured cookie sheet and pat into a circle about ¾ inch thick, 8 or 9 inches across. Cut the circle into wedges, four or six as you see fit, and place immediately in the hot oven.
Bake about 20 minutes. Serve at once.

Make a pot of tea, grab a good English mystery, and enjoy!

[From Daryl / Avery] ** By the way, the picture is of a gluten-free version of the scones. Delish!


  1. Hi Debs! welcome to MLK. I had a hippie baking and cooking phase too, but mostly wore out my Moosewood cookbooks:). Would love to join you for tea today! xo

  2. Oh, lovely! I particularly like the way the (used to?) serve them in England, with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Addictive! And I agree with you about the currants--they're smaller and more delicate than raisins. But I do often find that I have to soak them briefly before using them, or they don't soften during cooking.

  3. Oh memories of scones at tea in the UK! Welcome to Mystery Lovers Kitchen, Deb, and thanks for this delicious recipe.
    I love love love your books!