There’s a new cafe in my neighborhood. I am very happy to see this “brick and mortar” entity, as I already knew some of their wares from the Farmers Market. Astonishingly and delightfully, here in the land of taquerias, we finally have our own English tea room!
The shop is called Full English, and they bill themselves as “more tasty nosh than fancy & posh”. You have to look for them; they’re tucked away behind a convenience mart. Me personally, I don’t miss the tattoo parlor that was previously housed here. Nothing against tats, mind you, but there are plenty of other tattoo parlors in south Austin, and we only have one tea shop!
In addition to their more-or-less traditional breakfast fare (including the obligatory grilled tomato – yum!), sandwiches and other lunch fare, and afternoon tea offerings, they have a cold case full of pastries and pasties “to take away”. The lamb sausage in puff pastry is, um, well… wow!, but I am smitten with (and possibly addicted to) their rock buns. You can see a picture of what they should look like at the top of the Full English web site right beside the Union Jack.
I can’t exactly describe them. These rock buns are sort of a marriage of scones and shortbread with currants thrown in. Very dense, crumbly yet a little chewy, perfect for morning coffee, afternoon tea, an after-school snack, midnight cravings, I can’t think of a time when I wouldn’t want to eat them.
Anyway, for those of you who live further afield and may not have the chance to visit the cafe any time soon, I took it upon myself to try to recreate their rock buns here at home. I do this for you because that’s the kind of caring person I am, and its all in the spirit of research, right? (grin)
Here’s what I can tell you. After trying to recreate their rock buns twice, I will happily continue to eat at Full English, take their goodies home, send my friends there, and support them in any way I can to keep them open. I need their rock buns! I mean, what I made was very tasty, and my friends enjoyed them both times, but I’m not there yet. I’m close enough to share my recipe with you, but don’t be too surprised if it shows up again in a later post as “this is even closer”, ok?
The thing is, I ended up with a very respectable currant scone, but it just isn’t the same as what they make. I find this is often the case. I go somewhere and eat something and love it, so when I get home I try to recreate it. I’ve had varying degrees of success with this over the years, and have sometimes come up with something entirely different from my intended final product but equally wonderful. You just never know until you try.
The good news here is is two-fold: one, that my recipe will yield a pleasing end product, and two, Full English will ship! There is info on their site, or you can email them and inquire. If you decide to try theirs (tell ’em I sent you!) I suggest you make a batch of mine as well, perhaps you’ll be able to figure out what I’m missing! I do think I’m close, but sadly no cigar, so to speak. Here’s what I did:
Half-English Rock Buns
2 C self-rising flour
1/2 C brown sugar
6 T cold butter, cut in bits
1 tsp each ground cloves and cinnamon
1/2 C Zante currants
1/2 C milk
turbanado (aka “demerara”) sugar
Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 380 F. Grease or non-stick spray 2 muffin tins (6-each), or put parchment paper on a regular cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and spices, mix in the brown sugar, and cut in the butter to make a mealy- or gravelly-looking dry mix. Add the currants and toss to mix.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with the milk and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix, but not too much – think biscuits not muffins.
Drop by heaping spoons full to fill each muffin tin about half way. or drop in ping-pong ball sized mounds on the parchment paper and flatten slightly using the back of a spoon dipped in water. Sprinkle a little turbinado sugar over the top of each one (either method) and bake for 15-20 minutes. When they test done (with a toothpick, like any quickbread) pull them out and cool them for 15 minutes in the tins to set then finish cooling on a rack.
Enjoy with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice… you get the idea.
Just to be perfectly clear, this is an unpaid endorsement. Not even a crumb of rock bun crossed my lips without I paid for it. I just really think they’re that good, and hope you enjoy them, either version or both, as well!
On another note, please take a quick look at the top of this page. Pretty much directly above “try this” in the title, and covering a small bit of the tomatoes, there is a new tab labeled recipes 2010. Click it and you will see an index of recipes from my first post roughly a year ago through the end of last December. I hope you find it helpful. Please let me know, OK?
Have a great week, stay warm and safe, and rock on!