cheddar and chive scones
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The lace patterns of melty cheese oozing out of wholesome, warm from the oven scone spiced up with mustard and chives, when it's sliced in half and slathered with salted butter - can you resist it? I know I can't.
Recently published ‘The Marshmallow Test’ by Professor Walter Mischel draws on the famous experiment run in the 1960s at Stanford University and analyses willpower, self-control and their implications in life. It’s not hard to guess that the higher control we are able to exercise over our whims and instant gratification, the better we fare in life. We are better equipped to cope with stress, won’t become morbidly obese, achieve academic results and get better paid jobs. The original experiment was about placing a marshmallow in front of a small child with a promise of another coming their way provided they can hold off eating it for fifteen minutes. The better self-restrained (or more calculating?) toddlers obviously ended up better off in later life.
A doddle. I should be a Nobel prize winner or at least a skinny successful entrepreneur with zero neurosis levels. I don’t like marshmallows.
But if they put a Cheddar scone in front of me, warm from the oven, oozing cheese, all my self-control would go out of the window, jump into flower beds and wave bye-bye. I couldn’t last even two minutes let alone fifteen – why, the lovely thing would get cold and spoil! Or at least not be so so delishhh any more. Even if they said I’d get two extra fruit scones with jam and clotted cream after the endurance test.
These are my favourites in the world of savoury scones, with two secret ingredients added to enhance the chive flavour. Sometimes, if I'm honest, they replace the herb altogether especially if I'm out of chives and overcome by a scone craving. Onion salt and green seaweed flakes, nori, create the perfect umami combo with the cheese. I realise that chives are more commonly stocked at home than seaweed but it's worth venturing out to the oriental section of your supermarket - and anyway those nori flakes are great sprinkled on all kinds of salads.
The cheese scones don’t rise as imposingly as fruit or plain ones – the cheese weighs them down after all considerably, so they will be a bit squatty and wonky. You might shirk from the idea of using diced cheese rather than grated but trust me – they are so much better for it. I usually cut them smallish, with a 6cm/2inch cutter, so they are almost like little cheese biscuits: good for breakfast, good for any time of day.
The recipe has been adopted from Dan Lepard's 'Short and Sweet - The Best of Home Baking'.
cheddar and chive sconesServings: 9 sconesTime: about 45 minutes
- 100g plain four
- 100g wholemeal or rye flour
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp green nori flakes
- ½ tsp onion salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp of chopped chives
- 50g butter, softened
- 200g Cheddar, diced into 1 x 1cm chunks
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp (80g) plain whole yoghurt
1. Mix the flours with the spices, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl; if you want to skip the onion salt and the nori flakes, add ½ tsp of plain salt instead.
2. Dice the butter roughly, add to the flours mix and rub in until all almost disappears, with your hands or in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment.
3. Beat the egg with the yoghurt. Mix the chives and diced cheese into the flour mix, then pour in the wet ingredients and knead lightly until the dough comes together into a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and flatten into a circle about 3cm high.
4. Cut nine scones with a pastry cutter (2¼ inch/58mm) and place them in a deep baking tin lined with parchment. Let them stand for about 15 minutes before baking while you preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.
5. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden and the cheese leaks beautifully forming lace patterns on the tray.