Nothing (except possibly moaning or rain; or curry) is more British than scones, so let’s take a break from moaning about the coronavirus for a scone recipe. Recipes aren’t what I do here at Notes, but what the hell, who’s watching?
You will need:
A rolling pin
A kitchen, which will, now that I think about it, probably come with an oven, so skip the first item on the list.
A bunch of other stuff that we’ll get to in time.
I only mention all that because I’ve read enough recipe blogs to know that you can’t just give readers the recipe and shut up. You have to fill space. You have to build some kind of excitement. If you don’t do that, readers won’t think they’ve gotten their money’s worth, even though it’s free. And of course, you have to insert photos showing the ingredients gathered lovingly in a spotless kitchen, the process broken into seventeen simple steps, and the resulting whatever-it-is looking so beautiful that cagey readers will suspect you shellacked it.
You also have to claim that your recipe makes the world’s best-ever whatevers.
How many bests can this crowded planet hold? How many best-evers does eternity have space for? Look, I think the recipe’s good or I wouldn’t bother you with it, but it’s just a recipe. I’m sure someone else’s is just as good, or better. The world’s full of recipes. Let’s not kid ourselves that this one (or anyone else’s) going to make our lives perfect or our kitchens immaculate. It’s food. Food is lovely stuff, but once you eat it, it’s gone.
Okay. I’ve filled the requisite amount of space. Here’s the recipe.
Cheese Scones: makes 6 to 8
Flour (that’s plain flour if you bake in British), 1 ½ cups
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda if you’re British), ½ teaspoon
Cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon
Salt, ½ teaspoon
Butter (cold), 1 – 2 tablespoons. / ½ – 1 ounce
Sharp cheddar, about 4 ounces, grated
Milk, just enough to bring the dry ingredients together
Heat the oven to 200 centigrade or 400 Fahrenheit. They’re not exact equivalents but try not to think about it. While we’re at it, I used an American-size cup measure, which is a bit different than a British one. The recipe’s forgiving enough that it won’t matter. I don’t bake stuff that isn’t forgiving.
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl. I mention the bowl to keep you from gathering them neatly on the floor, which is the other obvious choice. Take a whisk if you have one and whisk it through the bowl (and yes, its contents) a couple of times. This is the lazy cook’s way of not having to sift anything ever again. If you don’t have a whisk, just mix everything together. I doubt anyone will know. Or sift the dry ingredients if it makes you happy. For all I know, it really does make a difference.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. I was taught to do this with two butter knives, one in each hand, which is about as useless a way to break the butter into small chunks as anyone ever invented. These days, I use a pastry blender. Pastry blenders are wonderful. Or you can do it the British way and rub the butter and flour between your fingers until they blend.
Grate the cheese and stir it in, then stir in the milk, a little at a time, just until you have a dough instead of a bunch of stuff that doesn’t cling together. Don’t add more milk than you have to or unspecified bad things will happen to you, the most likely of which is that your scones will be tough as an old shoe.
Roll the scones out on a floured surface until they’re, um, yeah, just about thick enough. Maybe ¾ inch. Then cut them into rounds. If you don’t have a reasonable size scone / biscuit / cookie cutter, use a glass. Or cut them into any old ragged shape that suits your fancy. They’ll taste the same. Smoosh the leftover bits together, roll them out again, and cut a few more. Repeat until you get to the last one, which never does look as neat as its brethren and sisteren because you have to shape it with your fingers.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes on a greased cookie sheet (I think that’s a baking tray if you’re British), or line one with baking paper.
They’re best with butter. They’re plenty good without it.
There. You haven’t thought about the virus since we started, have you?
My thanks to April Munday, who mentioned cheese scones in a comment, convincing me that I had to bake some, and to Arlingwoman, who wrote enough about grits to convince me that posting a recipe would be a good idea. If you want to blame someone for me going semi-off topic this way, blame them. If you don’t want to blame them, go visit their blogs. They’re both worth your time.