Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Little Teapot Talk…

As promised, today we’re talking about teapots. Much has already been written on the subject. In fact, a quick Amazon search turns up books on making teapots, collecting teapots, anthologies of teapots, artful teapots, history of teapots, pricing guides, expert guides, British teapots, Chinese teapots, Japanese teapots and so forth.

Rather than assume we have some new insight to add on this vast subject, you will find below a short collection of our observations on teapots of the European ceramic variety – Asian ceramic teapots we’ll save for another time.

Brown Betty Teapot

Ceramic Teapots: We particularly enjoy ceramic teapots, such as Brown Betty types, for everyday use. These teapots come in a variety of color schemes, decorations and shapes, generally less fancy and more whimsical thereby adding a light note to the day as your daily tea time should. They are relatively inexpensive & hold the heat decently well, even better with a tea cozie. Brown Bettys have the added benefit of being in continuous supply due to their popularity and, therefore, should one break we won’t cry over a broken teapot. Teapot collectors will find a large selection of fanciful shapes in this type of teapot and many miniatures are available as well.

Maryland China Swan Teapot

Porcelain China Teapots: We like these teapots for their versatility and pricing when looking for a nicer teapot on a budget. There is a large variety of shapes and patterns available from numerous manufacturers and countries. Our favorite manufacturers are Lomonosov Imperial Porcelain and Maryland China. There are a large number of highly artistic teapots and, as with ceramic, many unique shapes and miniatures crafted in porcelain. On a side note, we’ve noticed, in a side by side comparison, that the same pattern on porcelain and bone china will have small, but noticeable differences. The colors in the pattern decal will be brighter and the lines more crisp on porcelain while the bone china presents a softer, more muted overall look. Additionally, bone china is generally whiter than porcelain. When putting together a tea set of the same pattern, we recommend that you do not mix porcelain and bone china pieces. However, if you are putting together an eclectic tea set (mismatched patterns), we see no problem.

Heirloom Summertime Rose Bone China Teapot

Bone China Teapots:  Ah…our favorite for elegant tea times! Bone china teapots are available from a number of manufacturers and countries in a variety of patterns and shapes, both traditional and modern. The addition of bone ash makes this china whiter and stronger than porcelain, also providing its name. These teapots are generally thinner walled and more delicate. Consequentially, they don’t hold the heat as well and, for this reason, tea cozies are a good investment. They generally cost more than porcelain or ceramic and the prices vary widely from company to company. We’ve observed that bone china teapots coming from England can command higher prices, but even in this category the prices vary widely. Some English bone china manufacturers outsource the making of the bone china to other countries and finish the product in England. We believe this is the reason for the wide price range from company to company. Our favorite English bone china company is Heirloom Bone China. This company has all their bone china manufactured and decorated in Staffordshire, England, using 50% bone ash for superior quality.

Good care is required with any ceramic/china teapot, but especially bone china. We recommend hand wash only to maintain the finish and any gold decoration as dishwasher action and detergent are too strong. This is a good recommendation for any ceramic teapot as you don’t want a build up of detergent residue in the teapot body or spout. It doesn’t make for tasty tea!

A Final Observation: If you are brewing different types of tea in the same teapot, we recommend teapots that are fully glazed inside. Unglazed teapots can absorb the odor and flavor of the tea brewed. Hence, you wouldn’t want to brew a citrusy Earl Grey or smoky Lapsang Souchong and then a delicate Jasmine Green tea in the same unglazed teapot. The Jasmine tea just wouldn’t taste right. In fact, nothing would taste right after the Lapsang Souchong!

Well, hopefully we’ve entertained you and imparted some useful information. Please share your questions or comments. We love to hear from you!

As always, we invite you to visit Teapots ‘n More and browse our current selection of english bone china teapots, porcelain teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and bone china tea sets.

The Make Ahead Options

Thank you for the great feedback on our two new scone recipes! We’re also very excited about them along with our two kitchen tested Make Ahead Options.

Tip: We’ve discovered that both options work very well with baking powder biscuits.

Since we like to make our scones as close to tea party time as possible, the frozen option is our personal favorite. 

We’ve pretty much run our course, along with trying your patience, on scone postings, so next week join us for some teapot talk!

For those who are wondering about the options, they are listed below for your convenience. They are also inserted in our recipes: Triple Chocolate Scones & World’s Best Scones Made Even Better.

Make Ahead Option #1: After mixing your dry ingredients and add-ins (ie: dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc) seal this mix in an airtight container such as a plastic bag and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. When ready to use, place mix in a large bowl and add the butter, milk and vanilla according to recipe directions. You’ll have tea & scones within a 1/2 hour if you multi-task on the tea. And this is also a great, inexpensive gift idea!

Tip: Exclude moist add-ins such as fresh fruit or lemon zest until you are ready to make your scones. At that time, add them between cutting in the butter and adding the milk & vanilla.

Make Ahead Option #2: After cutting your scones into desired shapes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze. When completely frozen, wrap scones well in plastic wrap and foil or freezer bags. Well wrapped scones will keep at least one month. When ready to use, place frozen scones on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake according to recipe. Do not thaw first or add additional baking time for small scones, however, large scones may require a few extra minutes. You’ll have scones in approximately 20 minutes!

You’re invited to click Teapots ‘n More and browse our selection of english bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and bone china tea sets.

Triple Chocolate Scones

Triple Chocolate Scones

As mentioned in our previous post, here is the recipe for Triple Chocolate Scones with two “Make Ahead” options. They’re a scrumptious treat for special days or when you need a little chocolate. We hope you enjoy this fresh approach to our favorite tea treat with “lashings of cream” and jam, as our british friends say.

Triple Chocolate Scones
Makes 24 small scones, 1 1/4 inch (our favorite size) or 10-12 scones, 2 inch or 8-12 wedges.

1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder (Yes, that is a Tablespoon.)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. butter
7-8 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. chopped or grated dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips and dark chocolate.

Make ahead option #1: At this point, you can turn the oven off and seal this mix in an airtight container (such as a plastic bag) and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. When ready to use, place mix in a large bowl and proceed with step 2. You’ll have tea & scones within a 1/2 hour if you multi-task on the tea. 🙂

2. Cut butter into dry ingredients until approximately the size of peas.

3. Measure vanilla into a small bowl and add milk. Pour most of the vanilla milk into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky. If needed, additional milk may be added 1-2 teaspoons at a time.

4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness.Tip: Do not knead dough and use as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board.

Raw Sugar

5. Cut into desired shapes and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Lightly brush tops with milk if desired. Sprinkle with raw sugar crystals or Sparkling White Sugar crystals such as those found at cake decorating supply stores or King Arthur Flour. Raw sugar crystals can be found in the baking aisle of many grocery stores. Tip: If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first.

Sparkling White Sugar Crystals

Make ahead option #2: At this point, place your scones on a cookie sheet and freeze. When completely frozen, wrap scones well in plastic wrap and foil. Well wrapped scones will keep at least one month. When ready to use, proceed to step six, using frozen scones. Do not thaw first. You’ll have scones within 20 minutes! 😀

6. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. The 1 1/4 inch scone will be done in about 10 minutes. Sprinkle again with large sugar crystals while scones are still hot for visual appeal. Best served within 1 day of baking with butter or clotted cream and jam. Store in airtight container if serving later in the day. Tip: When baking, start checking your scones at the minimum baking time. You can always bake longer, but overdone is ruined.

Tips for great scones: Scones are like biscuits. To get a tender, flaky scone, the dough should be handled as little as possible and you should always use cold butter and cold milk.

You’re invited to click Teapots ‘n More and browse our selection of english bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and bone china tea sets.

World’s Best Scones Made Even Better

Cranberry Pecan & Triple Chocolate Scones

What’s different? Since scones are basically a sweet biscuit, we dropped the egg. Additionally, we reduced the milk and added two Make Ahead Options. These options allow you to make scones in as little as 20 minutes. We’re especially excited about Make Ahead Option #2 which goes from freezer to oven. We hope you enjoy this new & improved recipe!

World’s Best Scones (made even better)

Makes 24 small scones, 1 1/4 inch (our favorite size) or 10-12 scones, 2 inch or 8-12 wedges.

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder (Yes, that is a Tablespoon.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. (3 fl. oz.) milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup of one or two of the following, if desired: currants, raisins, dried cranberries, dried chopped cherries, chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, dried chopped apricots or apples, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add one or two of the above dried fruits, nuts or chips or leave plain.

Make Ahead Option #1: At this point, you can turn the oven off and seal this mix in an airtight container (such as a plastic bag) and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. When ready to use, place mix in a large bowl and proceed with step 2. You’ll have tea & scones within a 1/2 hour if you multi-task on the tea. 🙂

2. Cut butter into dry ingredients until approximately the size of peas.

3. Measure vanilla into a small bowl and add milk. Pour most of the vanilla milk  into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky. If needed, additional milk may be added 1-2 teaspoons at a time.

4.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. Tip: Do not knead dough and use as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board.

Sparkling White Sugar Crystals

5. Cut into desired shapes and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Lightly brush tops with milk if desired. Sprinkle with raw sugar crystals or Sparkling White Sugar crystals such as those found at cake decorating supply stores or King Arthur Flour. Raw sugar crystals can be found in the baking aisle of many grocery stores. Tip: If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first.

Raw Sugar

Make Ahead Option #2: At this point, place your scones on a cookie sheet and freeze. When completely frozen, wrap scones well in plastic wrap and foil. Well wrapped scones will keep at least one month. When ready to use, proceed to step six, using frozen scones. Do not thaw first. You’ll have scones within 20 minutes! 😀

6. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. The 1 1/4 inch scone will be done in about 10 minutes. Sprinkle again with large sugar crystals while scones are still hot for visual appeal. Best served within 1 day of baking with butter or clotted cream and jam. Store in airtight container if serving later in the day. Tip: When baking, start checking your scones at the minimum baking time. You can always bake longer, but overdone is ruined.

Check out our Triple Chocolate Scone recipe too!

Tips for great scones: Scones are like biscuits. To get a tender, flaky scone, the dough should be handled as little as possible and you should always use cold butter and cold milk.

For more tips, check out our article on Squidoo: How to Make Great Scones.

Some of our favorite combinations are:

Cranberry-Orange Pecan:  1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 tsp. orange zest

Cinnamon Chip: 1/2 cup mini cinnamon chips and 1/2-1 tsp. ground cinnamon

You’re invited to click Teapots ‘n More and browse our selection of english bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and bone china tea sets. 

Pumpernickel Cheddar Triangles

This is an easy open face tea sandwich recipe that gives you a salty-sweet taste when garnished with thin slices of sweet gherkin pickle. We use square loaves of pumpernickel from our favorite bakery. If you don’t have square loaves available, use whatever you can find and cut your sandwiches in the shape that pleases you: squares, circles, diamonds or cookie cutter shapes. Our recipe is below the video which has some good visuals and tips for making tea sandwiches. We hope you enjoy this offering!

Pumpernickel & Cheddar Triangles
(makes 60 small triangle sandwiches)

1 long rectangular loaf of pumpernickel bread from bakery, thinly sliced (1/4″) into at least 15 sandwich slices
1 16 ounce container of Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread such as Kaukauna or Wisconsin Cheeseman, softened
2-3 Small Sweet Gherkin pickles, thinly sliced for garnish
Softened butter or margarine

1. Discard end pieces of loaf. Thinly spread each slice with softened butter. Spread cheddar cheese in a fairly thin layer over butter.

2. Slice crusts off and cut each square twice diagonally to form 4 triangles. TIP: Use a pizza cutter for quick, easy cutting. 🙂

3. Refrigerate these sandwiches in an airtight container, separating each layer with a sheet of wax paper. Before serving, garnish each triangle with 1 or 2 slices of sweet pickle.

You’re invited to visit Teapots ‘n More for lovely english bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and bone china tea sets.