Cheddar cheese scones, cucumber sandwiches and dark mocha cake.
When he was a little boy, my nephew Angus’s favourite joke was ‘What’s the fastest cake in the world?’. Answer: ‘Sssccccone!’, delivered with tousled head moving rapidly left to right. His second favourite joke was ‘What’s the second fastest cake in the world?’ Answer: ‘Merrrrrringue!’, delivered in the manner of a car racing around a tough corner at Brand’s Hatch. He’s now in his second year at Sheffield University and his jokes haven’t got any better. At least not the ones he tells me.
On Friday, I invited my friends Jane and Lola to tea. A batch of scones was certainly in order, along with cucumber sandwiches and cake. A plain scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream is a fine thing indeed, but as the cake was a dense chocolate number with a rich, coffee buttercream icing I thought a savoury scone might be better. They certainly vanished very quickly, quicker, in fact, than you could say ‘Sssccccone!’.
Cheddar Cheese Scones
This is the basic recipe but you can adapt it as you wish. Add a pinch or two of chilli flakes, or some finely chopped thyme, dill, chives or oregano if you like.
Makes 6 large scones or 10 smaller ones.
220g self-raising flour, plus a little more for dusting the cutter
1 tsp English mustard powder
Pinch of salt
60g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes, plus a little more for greasing the baking sheet
50g mature Cheddar, grated
A few grinds of black pepper
About 150-180 ml whole milk, plus a little more for brushing the scones
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, mustard and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips then use a knife to mix in the cheese and pepper. Make a well in the middle and use the knife to stir in enough milk to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead very gently, just enough to bring it together. Pat the dough out into a round about 2cm thick. Dip a 7cm cutter in flour (or a 5cm one if you’re making smaller scones) and cut the dough out into rounds. Transfer them to a baking sheet.
Gently knead together the leftover dough and cut out some more scones until you’ve used up all of the dough. Brush the tops lightly with milk. Bake for 13-15 minutes (10-12 minutes for smaller scones), until risen and golden. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm with plenty of butter.