I was in a bit of daze when I woke up Thursday morning, after traveling across country the day before. I had been invited to visit Ohio Amish Country some time back, but because of circumstances beyond my control, I couldn’t commit to saying yes or no. Of course I wanted to go to Amish Country (gorgeous hand-crafted furniture, bearded men in suspenders and horse drawn buggys? Yes please!) but there was a project that I might have been involved with during that exact same time. Then, it turned out, the choice was made for me (rejected!) and with a sigh of relief I immediately confirmed my attendance to Ohio Amish Country Three Great Inns Tour. Traveling across the country to Columbus, Ohio isn’t the easiest from California, especially when there were limited seats available due to my last minute travel plans, but thankfully I got there in one piece. Had I not gone, I wouldn’t have been inspired to make these Earl Grey Tart Cherry Cream Scones with White Chocolate Glaze.
Once I showered and woke up properly from that first day, I headed over to the only food option I had, the Waffle House across the street. I was in a hotel near the airport and was going to be picked up with my blogger pal Brian from A Thought for Food, who was flying in that morning from Boston. I wasn’t super impressed with the Waffle House, but thankfully the feast of food in the next couple of days would compensate. Once Brian arrived, we drove a couple of hours to meet up with the rest of the bloggers, only to arrive late at the first stop, Velvet Ice Cream. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to get the tour, but we did have a chance to taste their ice cream.
Brian and I finally caught up with the rest of the bloggers, including Deb and the Professor from Smith Bites (I adore them and their site), Greg from Sippity Sup (I’m totally anticipating his upcoming cookbook on savory pies), Jane from The Heritage Cook (she’s fantastic fun), Linda from Ohio Magazine (we bonded over our love of broadway musicals) and Rich from Ohio Country Living (an unassuming but hilarious fellow), as well as our awesome hosts for the tour, Amy and Jamie from Weirick Communication (the best, absolutely the best people). We met up at the Lehman’s department store, where we discovered all the wonders of old school toys, non-electric kitchen equipment and old school wood burning ovens that look like they would reside in a steam punk novel. The endless wall of cookie cutters had me in awe but really it was the toys that I was enamored with. Not a single one of them had a USB port. Say what?!?
It had started to rain during our first day in Amish country and when we arrived at The Inn at Honey Run it had begun to pour. We braved the storm and took a quick ride in an Amish buggy, chatting with our Amish host as he told us about his life and how he loves Montana where he just moved back from (apparently there is an Amish community there). It was cold and wet, but the scenery was picturesque and somehow the beating rain on the buggy canvas top just enhanced the experience.
Dinner at The Inn at Honey Run was pretty wonderful. A progressive meal, where we moved around the Inn to different buildings and areas, we started off with pomegranate drinks that were a brilliant ruby red in the ice sculptures that they were set in (fancy pants!) along with vegetarian sushi rolls made from farm fresh produce and powerpacked flavorful microgreens. From there we moved to the patio area where we all huddled close to each other to keep warm as we drank mulled hard cider, dipped grilled vegetables in fondue and ate fantastic grilled pork belly. Mmmm. Pork Belly!
Afterwards we went over to one of the cabins and had Ohio wine from Troutman Vineyards, cheese and bread as well as lobster risotto and other delightful nibbly food. We thought the main courses were going to end there, but we moved onto the restaurant Tarragon’s lounge where we were served their interpretation of “bar food” deconstructed sliders, grilled cheese and fish and chips along with signature cocktails made from local distillery Watershed. Of course no meal is complete without dessert, which included an apple pie with stick sweet caramel sauce, crème brulee and a whipped peanut butter pie all served with luscious Troutman Vineyards Ice Wine. We all rolled ourselves to bed.
The next morning had me waking up bright and early and running down to watch Chef Scott Fetty and his small staff prepare us the first meal of the day. Chef Fetty has an impressive pedigree, training at CIA in Hyde Park, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and E’cole d’Lavarrene in Burgundy but all that means nothing if his food isn’t fantastic. Thankfully he delivered, with the fantastic food from the day before, and the breakfast spread that was prepared for us that morning. I tried not to get in his way in the kitchen as I took my photos, and he and his staff were very accommodating. Highlights included oatmeal pancakes, sausage, bacon, Amish quiche and an assortment of baked goods that had me paralyzed with fear that I had picked the wrong one (I picked two actually, and shared a third one with Brian). Thankfully I had taken one of their signature scones, made by their pastry chef, a former Amish woman. The tender sweet white chocolate dried fruit scones was fantastic and had me thinking I had to make a variant for myself.
While eating breakfast, we were joined by an Amish man who humored us by answering questions about the Amish culture. Though they are often lumped together, the Amish actually have 27 different sects amongst themselves, often times with subtle differences that only the Amish will notice (rubber wheels or the size of the window on their buggy might tell you what sect they are on). Ohio happens to be one of the largest populations of Amish, but they are spread out from Maine to Montana. It’s true that most Amish prefer not to be photographed (it really depends on the sect), but the main reason is because they prefer not to have random strangers jump out in front of them and to randomly take a photo of them (perfectly understandable, no one likes the papparazi). However, most will politely tell you no if you ask them if it is OK to photograph them, as that would be construed as posing for a photograph, which is a form of pride, something their church is adamantly against. I tried to respect their wishes, photographing their hands or bodies, but every now and then a face snuck into the picture.
The Amish are a fascinating culture and the countryside beautiful. I left the Inn at Honey Run impressed with everything that I had experienced there from their top rate fine dining focusing on fresh local ingredients to their various rooms, cabins and décor. I know that they are slowly remodeling their buildings (we didn’t have a chance to see their honeycomb rooms, which they joked were their hobbit room, as they were set in the hill, because they were painting them). Perhaps it’s an excuse for me to go back there again!
Special thanks goes to The Inn at Honey Run, The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls and Murphin Ridge Inn for hosting me for this trip to Ohio Amish Country. All travel, accommodations, meals and tours were provided by the hosts. That said, I was not compensated otherwise for what I wrote above and everything I have written is my own opinion.
These scones were inspired by the signature scones at the Inn at Honey Run’s restaurant Tarragon. It has been awhile since I’ve made scones and I had forgotten how much I like them, tender and not too sweet, perfect for tea or breakfast. The Inn at Honey Run’s cream scones had chunks of white chocolate and dried fruit in them. I decided to make my own twist on the scones by infusing the cream with Earl Grey tea and make a white chocolate glaze for the outside. Be sure to only infuse the cream for four minutes. Any longer and the Earl Grey tea will start to produce tannins which are bitter compounds that aren’t the most pleasant in taste.
I used some whole wheat spelt flour in these scones. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat, rich in protein, vitamins and other nutrients. It has a nice nutty flavor, but if you don’t have access to the spelt flour feel free to substitute in regular whole wheat or just plain all purpose flour. You’ll notice that I also added the zest of a Bergamot orange to the scone dough. Bergamot oil is part of what flavors Earl Grey tea and I wanted to play that up a bit. Feel free to either substitute regular lemon zest or just skip it all together if you’d like.
By Irvin Lin
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 g (2 or 3 bags) of earl grey tea
175 g (1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
110 g (3/4 cup) whole wheat spelt flour
50 g (1/4 cup) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
105 g (2/3 cup) dried tart cherries
zest of a Bergamot orange (or regular lemon)
85 g (6 tablespoons or 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
White Chocolate Glaze
90 g (1/2 cup chopped) white chocolate
2 tablespoon heavy cream
1. Heat the cream gently on low heat until bubbles start to form on the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, place the earl grey tea bags into the pan and cover for four minutes. Remove the bags and gently squeeze them into the cream then discard the tea bags.
2. While the bags of tea are steeping, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
3. Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients until they are evenly distributed and uniform in color. Add the dried tart cherries and the Bergamot orange zest, then stir with a large spatula or wooden spoon to distribute. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and sprinkle them over the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Flatten the cubes of butter with your fingers, until all the butter has been smashed. Then start rubbing and squeezing the flour and butter, until the ingredients start to clump together.
4. Make a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients. Separate one egg and reserve the egg white in a small bowl. Place the egg yolk and whole egg in the tea infused cream and beat with a fork to blend. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients well and gently stir and fold the dry and wet together with a large spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be moist.
5. Flour a flat surface and scrape the dough onto the surface. Divide the dough into two lumps and flatten each lump into a round 6 inch disk (about 1/2 inch thick). Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Place them on the lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Add one tablespoon to the reserved egg white and then beat until it is frothy. Brush each scone wedge with the egg white wash. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the scones start to look golden brown around the edges.
6. Let the scones rest on the baking sheet for five minutes and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they cool completely make the white chocolate glaze by melting the white chocolate. My preferred method is to place a metal bowl over a pot of water (making sure the bowl is not touching the water) and bring the water to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the heat off and the residual heat and steam should be enough to melt the white chocolate. Place the cream in the bowl with the white chocolate and mix until it is incorporated. Spoon the white chocolate glaze over the scones and let firm up before serving.
Makes 12 scones.