Millions of Britons have dreamed of the Queen surprisingly showing up to their tea. At least that is what a study that has been happily cited in Great Britain for decades says, according to which the royal tea visit was once the most common dream content of the British. A phenomenon that Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys inspired his song “Dreaming of the Queen” in 1993. A pipe dream and stress dream at the same time, which became the subject of a saying in many households on the island: “Let’s cover with tablecloths and good crockery, maybe the queen will come to tea.” The popular joke had a serious message: Let’s not let ourselves go now. That would you after all, never do.
As is well known, this week is all about the farewell of Elizabeth II. Memory follows memory, anecdote after anecdote, whether on social media or in media guest contributions, whether in the British Parliament, where members of parliament, in rare harmony, tell each other about their most beautiful experiences with the Queen reported, or on BBC2, where listener news was read out in an endless loop for days. And in a country where “teatime” is still sacred to many, it’s of course not surprising that a lot of these thoughts and memories had something to do with tea. Also because, thanks to the reports of so-called insiders, you think you know a lot about the Queen’s tea habits: Elizabeth II preferred to prepare her English breakfast tea herself, loved Earl Gray in the afternoon and was Mif-drinker (milk in first), nothing is certain of it – of course.
The Queen sent Eisenhower the recipe and recommended beating the dough vigorously
However, something else was more decisive for the royal tea fantasies of the British: the fact that a surprise visit from the monarch, who had dreamed of life on the farm until her father’s unforeseen coronation, always seemed like a not entirely unrealistic possibility. Even in the working-class districts of Leeds or Manchester, it was assumed that this queen would have put hosts and guests alike at ease because she also knew how to talk about dogs, patterns of crockery, cakes or flower boxes. A down-to-earth attitude, perhaps the best example of which is a tea anecdote from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s estate.
In 1959, the American presidential couple were guests at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. A visit that both sides obviously enjoyed. And what did the Republican Texan, four-star general and former commander-in-chief of the Allied troops in World War II want to talk about most during teatime? That’s right, about baking recipes, as we know from a letter Elizabeth II wrote to Eisenhower in 1960, which is now being shared again on Twitter: “A photo in today’s newspaper of you grilling quail reminded me of that “I never sent you the recipe for the drop scones that I promised you at Balmoral. I’m rushing to catch up and I hope they turn out well,” the Queen opened the letter, which she shared only with Elizabeth R. (for Regina, Queen) signed.
Eisenhower’s reaction is unknown. But the queen of the presidential interest in her favorite pastry for tea, which she – as is customary in Cornwall – with clotted cream and strawberry jam, seemed to have been very sure. Because the three pages are almost exclusively about scones, in a style in which one would also address one’s neighbor:. “I usually take less flour and milk than the specified amount,” wrote the Queen, for example, that you have to “beat the dough vigorously” or: “It’s also very good” to replace the sugar with (golden) syrup.
Elizabeth II, that can be taken for granted, would have been an uncomplicated, profitable and even humorous tea partner for the average British citizen. This picture also draws the legendary video for her 70th anniversary of the throne, which also went viral again this week. In the two and a half minute clip, Paddington Bear, who is as clumsy as he is lovable, is a guest at Buckingham Palace. The bear drinks the tea from the spout and accidentally smashes the pastry, which the Queen acknowledges with serenity. She tells him that she always keeps a jam sandwich in her purse for such emergencies, the bear’s favorite food.
In a guest post for the Guardians Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the screenplay for the little film, reminded him again recently that the Queen took part in such videos at her own request, indeed that at first one would not have dared to hope for it and only asked permission in the palace, to be allowed to double them. Elizabeth II knew how to combine the two most important ingredients for the success of a monarchy – remoteness and closeness – like no one else.
The Queen was the living symbol of a post-war society “agreed to build a better Britain” hoping for a world “based on clear rules,” writes Cottrell Boyce, which is why her death feels that way big, so historical at. It must be added that tablecloths and good crockery at teatime must have been of little concern to her personally. If you were to follow these rules as a host, you could learn from her, then only for reasons of respect and – self-respect.
Royal Drop Scones
The recipe differs from that for classic scones, which are usually baked in the oven. The batter for drop scones is more reminiscent of waffle or pancake batter, but is less runny. The scones themselves look more like American pancakes, so they are fried in a (preferably non-stick) pan until golden brown, with the amount of batter for one scone being the equivalent of a heaping tablespoon, the batter being slid from the spoon into the pan (drop) and flattened into a thick mini pancake. The Queen’s recipe serves 16 people, so you can use half or just a quarter of the ingredients. Here we are guided by the Recipe developer Jennine Rye’s versionwhich added a few remarks to the Queen’s recipe.
The ingredients: 4 cups of flour (Type 405, amount corresponds to about 360g), 2 cups of whole milk (about 350 ml), 4 tbsp. fine sugar, 2 eggs (M, room temperature), 2 tsp. baking soda, 3 tsp tablespoons warm, melted butter
The preparation: In a large bowl, using a stand mixer or whisk, beat the eggs, sugar, and about half the milk until fluffy. Mix the flour with baking soda and cream of tartar and beat into the egg mixture. Stir vigorously and for a long time so that all the ingredients combine evenly to form a rather thick, pasty dough. Then gradually whisk in more milk in small increments until the batter is the desired consistency (it should be chewy but liquid enough to just slide off a spoon). Once the consistency is reached, simply omit the rest of the milk, it must not be too thin, otherwise you will have crêpes instead of drop scones (if necessary, add more flour, the cup details in the recipe, according to the recipe developer Rye, are somewhat imprecise ). At the end, fold in 2 tablespoons of melted butter and process the dough as soon as possible. For each scone, place a heaping tablespoon of batter in a non-stick pan, press to a thickness of 1 to 2 centimeters and bake over medium heat until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Turn and bake for at least another minute. Serve the scones warm with clotted cream (or sour cream) and spread with strawberry jam.