Fish & Shellfish
Baking & Bread
A while ago, I posted a recipe for mushroom soup and I served it with what I said at the time were the tallest, lightest cheese scones I’d ever made. I promised to post the recipe for the scones another time, and several people have asked me why there’s been no sign of it yet - the answer is that I’d mislaid the notes I’d made about the quantities I used (with no visitors to the house since the lockdown began, and therefore no need to regulate the unruly piles of things I seem to accumulate on every surface, my untidiness has reached new levels!). But I’ve found the notes now, so here goes…
After much experimentation I reckon this really is the best-ever recipe for savoury scones. It uses both self-raising flour and baking powder and that’s an easy combination to overdo, leaving you with an unpleasant aftertaste. But the ratio I’ve used here gives you a lovely light end result, with a good rise and plenty of proper, traditional scone flavour.
I tried using water in place of milk (by accident - I was a bit distracted at the time! The lockdown seems to have turned me into a complete airhead) and that actually gave surprisingly good results too. But milk is better. My recipe states ‘approx 125ml milk’ because you need to play it by ear - pour in just less than that and see how well the mixture comes together. If it still looks very dry after you’ve drawn the knife through it a couple of times, add a little more. The aim is to have a dough that’s moist enough to come together pretty much on its own (without being overly wet) because if you need to do too much stirring, it will make the scones tough.
In order to get impressively tall scones, it’s a case of quality over quantity. I pat out the dough until it is about an inch (2.5cm) deep, which allows for three large scones to be stamped out. Then I reform the dough gently and stamp out another one to give four in total. To make more scones, make two separate batches of dough rather than doubling the quantities - the more mixture there is in the bowl, the more you have to stir it to get it to come together and the less fluffy the end result will be.
Put the flour, baking powder, mustard, butter and cheese in a food processor with a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, then whizz until the mixture forms fine breadcrumbs. Tip into another bowl (it's easier to do the next bit without the tube in the processor bowl getting in the way) and pour in almost all the milk. Draw a table knife through the mixture a couple of times: if it doesn't come together quickly, add a little more milk.
Tip out on a floured board and pat out to a thick round about an inch deep. Cut out three large scones, then reform the dough and cut out a fourth one.
Put on baking tray, brush with milk (don't let it drip down the sides as this impedes the rise) and bake in a preheated oven at 200C (fan oven) for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
These freeze well if you don't need to use them straightaway.