In this entry, I’m going to open a can of worms labeled “scones”. British scones are significantly different from American scones. British scones are light, fluffy, quite dainty and round; American scones are denser, heartier, bigger and usually wedge/triangular-shaped. The British scone is closer to an American biscuit, than it is to an American scone. And British biscuits are what Americans know as cookies… ok, now the language issue has been dealt with, I can now discuss British scones.
British scones (like American ones) can come plain, sweet or savory. Devon, in the South West of England are well known for their Devon scones. Order a “cream-tea” or a “Devonshire tea” in this area, and you will be greeted with English tea, served with Devon scones, clotted cream and fruit jam (jelly/preserve). It’s absolutely heavenly, although I did get the paranoid feeling that my arteries were clogging up with every bite. It’s definitely something you have to try when you’re in Devon/Cornwall.
My cheese scones aren’t as indulgent as the ones served in “cream-tea”, but they’re still pretty heavy on saturated fat. This is the reason why I haven’t made them in years.
I used to make horrible scones, ones that were rubbery and dense. I’m pretty sure if you threw them at a window, the window would have broke. Thankfully, my culinary skills have improved significantly – they are now light and heavenly. The trick is to work very fast and not over-mix or over-work the dough. If you can manage that, you’ll be greeted with a delicious fluffy, cheese scone that you can enjoy on their own, or slathered in butter.
BRITISH CHEESE SCONES
- 225 g (1 ½ c) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 ½ t baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch of mustard powder or cayenne (optional)
- 50 g (3 ½ T) butter, cut into small chunks
- 125 g (4 ¼ oz) extra mature* (sharp) cheese, grated (shredded)
- 140 ml (½ c and 4 t) milk/milk substitute
- Additional milk to glaze
* I like to use imported vintage Gouda
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F. Line a baking tray (pan/sheet) with parchment/silicone sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and mustard powder/cayenne (if using).
3. Rub the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the cheese^ to the mix and stir to incorporate.
4. Add the milk, stir briskly with a blunt knife. From this stage onwards, try to work as fast as possible. Quickly form a ball of dough with your hands, without handling the dough too much.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 1 ½ cm (⅔ inch). Using a 5 cm (2 inch) round (cookie) cutter, stamp our rounds; place them onto the prepared tray (pan/sheet). Re-roll the dough, again trying to handle the dough as little as possible and repeat the process until you’ve used up all the dough.
6. Brush the dough with milk. Bung the tray into the middle of the oven or 20-25 minutes or until the scones are well risen and evenly browned. You may need to rotate the tray (pan/sheet) halfway through cooking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool or 5-10 minutes before devouring. Enjoy!
^ You can reserve some cheese at this step to sprinkle on top of the scones, after you’ve glazed them in step 6.