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I like template recipes that you can flex, adapt and scale up or down. Add cheese and you get savoury. Add sugar or raisins and here comes sweet.
The flagship template is bread - really, flour and water and the airborne yeast can do its job. I can just about imagine the first bread created by leaving a bowl of milled grain out in the rain, then a bit longer still so it fermented. Then the owner of the bowl got pissed off with the flour spoiling and threw the lot into the fire, only they missed and the first ever dough landed just above the flame, perched on some stones. The smell wafting up after a short spell made everyone sit up in amazement, no doubt.
Well, I made this story up in its entirety but the road to the most elaborate culinary achievement surely led through errors and happenstance. And very good too - testing is necessary and all but it’s a bit of a drudgery compared to a flamboyant putting together random ingredients with astonishing results, only not being able to replicate the feat.
These are plain scones, or biscuits as Americans call them, and since I was inspired by King Arthur Flour, I might as well stick to ‘biscuits’. The original is a near-genius, two-ingredient dough mixing flour and cream in equal quantities. I found that a bit stiff and stodgy so I threw in cream cheese, flamboyantly, with a result.
The main recipe below has cheese in it but a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and some cinnamon will make a decent sweet version.
- To make 9 (scale up or down at will):
- 120g self-raising flour
- 120g double cream
- 40g cream cheese
- 60g grated hard cheese, Cheddar or Gruyere (optional)
I don’t like using shop bought self raising flour so to make your own add ½ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda (this is the equivalent of 1 tsp baking powder, if you’d rather use that) to 110g plain flour.
Mix the flour with the double cream and cream cheese by hand or in a little blender - it works very well for small quantities. Your standing mixer might not even notice that something’s gone in!Now either mix in the grated cheese or make plain biscuits. Pat the dough down to a disc about 3cm thick and cut small, 5cm rounds with a cookie cutter. Place them on a tray lined with parchment and brush the tops with cream.
Bake the biscuits in the oven preheated to 230C/450F/gas 8 for 10 minutes. Serve warm or freeze to store longer.
Note: for sweet biscuits add 30g icing sugar to the mix and of course skip the cheese. Plus raisins and cinnamon, optionally.