Cheese and dried tomato ‘scones’

Growing up, I savored the marvelous scones my grandmother made. As a child, I never thought they existed beyond her kitchen. Though I’ve yet to find any as exceptional elsewhere, over the years, I discovered they weren’t her invention but rather a staple of Scottish cuisine. Sometimes, they include raisins or blueberries. Often, these small, individual-sized buns grace tea time tables, served warm, split open, and spread with jam and clotted cream, a dense cream derived from the fat that forms on the surface of heated cow’s milk.

Such is the tradition surrounding this tea-time treat that it has a particular name: cream tea. But this time, we won’t adhere to tradition; instead, we’ll use it as a starting point. Like most basic pastry or bakery doughs, it can be modified to include ingredients to one’s liking. This time, we’re transforming the scone into a savory delight by adding cheese—cheese scones are quite popular—and sun-dried tomatoes.

When preparing them, it’s crucial not to overwork the dough; otherwise, you’ll end up with scones fit for building a house. It’s also important to work swiftly to prevent the butter from melting. By incorporating cold butter, we aim to have small pieces of it remain in the dough, which will melt in the oven, create steam, and form small holes within the scone, giving it that characteristic flakiness.

Yield: 4 large scones Time: 50 minutes Difficulty: Requires some practice for perfection

Ingredients:

  • 225g all-purpose flour
  • 12g baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 75g cold butter
  • 6 sun-dried tomato halves
  • 100g grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 20g finely grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 75ml whole milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and oregano.
  3. Add the cold, cubed butter to the dry mixture. Incorporate it by working the mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Stir in the milk, grated mature cheddar cheese, and chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients with your hands and transfer the dough onto a floured surface.
  5. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about three to four centimeters and cut into squares measuring four by four centimeters. You can also make them smaller or use a circular cookie cutter.
  6. Place the scones apart on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Finish by sprinkling some finely grated mature cheddar cheese on top of each scone.
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the base is golden and they have risen in size. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Detailed Instructions

1. Preparing the Ingredients

  • Before you start, preheat your oven to 200°C.
  • While the oven heats up, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water to rehydrate them.

2. Mixing the Dry Ingredients

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, fine salt, dried oregano, and ground black pepper.
  • Mix well using a whisk or spoon to ensure even distribution of the dry ingredients.

3. Incorporating the Butter

  • Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  • Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. This step is crucial for achieving a flaky texture in the scones.

4. Adding Wet Ingredients and Mix-Ins

  • Once the butter is incorporated, add the whole grain or Dijon mustard, grated mature cheddar cheese, and chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes to the bowl.
  • Pour in the whole milk as well.
  • Using your hands, gently mix all the ingredients together until they come together to form a dough. Be careful not to overmix; the dough should be just combined.

5. Shaping the Scones

  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface.
  • With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about three to four centimeters.
  • Using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into squares measuring four by four centimeters. Alternatively, you can use a circular cookie cutter for round scones.
  • Place the shaped scones onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, ensuring they are spaced apart to allow for rising during baking.

6. Baking the Scones

  • Sprinkle some finely grated mature cheddar cheese on top of each scone for an extra cheesy crust.
  • Place the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake the scones for 15 to 18 minutes or until they are golden brown on the bottom and have risen in size.
  • Once baked, remove the scones from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Conclusion

These savory cheese and sun-dried tomato scones offer a delightful twist on the traditional sweet scone, perfect for serving at brunches, picnics, or as a tasty snack any time of the day. With their flaky texture and rich cheesy flavor, they are sure to become a favorite among family and friends. Enjoy them warm with a dollop of butter or as an accompaniment to soups and salads for a satisfying meal.

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