F L O U R , M I L K , B U T T E R , C H E E S E .
There are a few dishes that, whilst cooking, bring me right back to my childhood.
Cooking apples simmering in a pan with sugar and butter. A thick slab of gammon boiling away in a stock pot with vegetables and barley. Fragrant ginger biscuits, trays of fruity and gently spiced bread pudding, rock cakes in paper cases with their currants and sultanas always catching ever so slightly in the heat.
And, of course, the comforting, homely smell of cheese scones rising tall in a hot oven.
There’s a real knack to scone making, if you ask me.
I’ll never make them as well as my Grandma used to, but every time I try, I learn a little something.
To handle the dough softly, not to press it hard or roll it too thin whilst shaping and rolling, and that the craggier it is at that stage, the lighter and more aerated they’ll be when finished with their baking.
I find they’re more challenging to make than simple bread or biscuits or cakes- the dough seems to ask for almost the same lightness of touch as pastry, though not quite to the same extent, I’m glad to say.
But whilst I can’t quite say I’ve got the technique 100% perfect yet, the taste is most definitely there and is as nostalgic as ever.
If you’ve never split in half a scone (cheese, or otherwise) that’s fresh from the oven, and whilst the steam spirals from its centre, spread each half with a little butter before eating it right away, then you’ve been missing out.
This particular batch disappeared in a flash, eaten as ‘I’m hungry but not too hungry’ snacks, in the evening when ‘dinner wasn’t quite as filling as I thought it might be’, and all the times in between, because who ever needs a reason to eat a scone?
The recipe is from my Grandma’s decades old Delia Smith cookbook and I’ve done very little with it other than tinker slightly with the cheese quantity, so the credit must go to Delia, really. Makes 8.
225g self raising flour
40g butter, at room temperature
85g mature cheddar
1/2tsp mustard powder
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius, and grease a baking tray.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, and then lightly and quickly rub in the butter until the mixture has no large lumps, and has the clumpy texture of wet sand.
- Add in the grated cheese, salt and mustard powder, and stir together with the butter and flour mixture.
- Slowly pour in the milk a little at a time, stirring with a knife as you go. Bring the dough together with your hands, kneading it lightly until it forms a rough ball.
- Roll the dough out until it’s 1 inch thick, and then use a 2inch fluted cutter to cut out the scones. Place them on the greased baking tray, and bake for 12-14 minutes (mine were perfect after 12, 13 was a shade too long) until the tops are lightly golden and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
- Best served warm, with lashings of butter. Delicious.
p.s. The butter knife, rolling pin, and milk jug all are hand-me-downs from my own beautiful Grandma, and the red gingham napkins are part of a set Jason’s Grandmother made us as a wedding gift. Family really is the very best, isn’t it?