Over our extended lockdown, I have made these scones over and over. There’s probably quite a lot of wisdom in my life gleaned from my late mother, who was an excellent and generous cook. I always think back to her advice or scurry to find her old recipes when times get tough. She never had trouble finding workmen or specialists to call out when things went awry with appliances and more around our home, as she built a reputation for baking and serving morning or afternoon tea for everyone who came to our house. So when our hot water failed in lockdown, it was easy to get our plumber to call, as he knew I would have a batch of something delicious for him, just like my Mum used to do.
Scones are also a brilliant solution if you need to cheer up a lonely neighbour or want something fresh and tasty to take to a picnic when reuniting with friends. The best thing about scones is they can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes, and it is highly likely that all the ingredients are already in the pantry or fridge. These scones need light hands, but they’re sure to be a hit with all ages and the fresh herbs can be omitted if desired. My recipe comes with lots of tips and extra information on how to make a perfect batch every time.
Best-ever Very Cheesy Scones
2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g very cold butter
100g cheese, grated
½ cup freshly chopped parsley and sage
1 generous cup full cream milk or butter milk
Preheat the oven to 200C. Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder and salt. Grate the cold butter and rub this in with your finger-tips, moving your wrists up and down so the flour falls back into the bowl. Grate the cheese and stir this in with the parsley and sage. Pour in the full cream milk or buttermilk and use a fork to bring the mixture together to make a pretty sticky mixture. You may need to add a little more liquid.
Dust the bench lightly with more flour, tip out the dough and pat it out to a thickness of 5cm. Cut it into eight to nine pieces, top with a little extra grated cheese and place on baking paper on a flat oven tray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden and crisp. Best eaten with lashings more butter while still warm.
Notes and tips
• Salted butter is best and rubbing it in means taking the flour and butter in your finger tips and very gently squeezing it so the butter absorbs into the flour. By lifting your hands out of the bowl, you aerate the flour for lighter scones.
• Use your favourite cheese, but try to find cheese that’s full of flavour. I like Grana Padano and never in a month of Sundays would I use that pre-grated, packaged cheese. Leave that for the kids to make playdough.
• Fresh herbs are always best and right now spring sage is just wonderful. If you are tempted to use dried herbs, this is the only place in the recipe where you should be frugal.
• My favourite milk (Durham Farms organic Jersey milk) comes in big bottles and is often near or has passed the use-by-date, but that is absolutely perfect for scones as it adds a savoury tang.
• When adding milk, use your judgment. You really want a pretty wet sticky mixture, so if it’s looking a bit dry and not coming together easily, add extra milk around the edges of the dough and draw that in.
• Don’t be afraid to add a little paprika or some chilli flakes for extra bite, but the kids probably won’t be pleased.
• And if you’re like my husband, you can slather jam on the warm scones, as cheese and jam are a great combo. Enjoy!