It’s quarantine o’clock, so PhD Kitchen is back! Yesterday I made these English cheddar scones—a crowd favorite in our house, which I share with a bona fide English husband—and I thought they’d make the perfect comeback recipe. My mother-in-law’s cheese scones are pretty similar, but this is the way James and I make them at home in the US.
You can use any hard cheese you like, but I prefer a strong and sweet red cheddar. I added fresh rosemary from a plant I’m trying to keep alive, but you can skip the herbs or substitute another type (fresh or dried) if you like. My recipe is based on this one by Irmgard on Food.com, but I’ve edited it to make a double batch and substitute for the complete dearth of baking powder currently plaguing my city. I also had to make do with fat-free buttermilk… yikes. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here we go!
We argue over how to pronounce “scone” every time we make these:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting your surface and baking sheets (I used Cup4Cup gluten-free multipurpose flour and caution you not to use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour for this recipe; we tried it once and for some reason they turned out shaped like pancakes. Play it safe.)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda (or 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp baking powder, if you are lucky enough to find it!)
- 1 heaping tbsp salt
- 1 cup cold butter or margarine/buttery spread, cut into tiny cubes or grated using a cheese grater (I used Country Crock because we were out of butter)
- 1/2 lb grated sharp hard cheese, preferably a cheddar (I used an English “Sweet Red Grass Fed Cheddar,” which I suspect is technically a Red Leicester but isn’t marketed that way in the US)
- 2 cups buttermilk (or, sadly, fat-free buttermilk… ugh) or plain unsweetened kefir (any fat content)
- Optionally, 1-2 tbsp of your favorite herb (I used fresh rosemary; James usually uses dried rosemary, and basil could be nice as well)
- Optionally, 1 egg beaten for an egg wash (I am lazy and never do this)
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. I sifted mine in, but you don’t have to. Then use a wooden spoon to add the butter or buttery spread and break it up into small pieces within the dry mixture. The end result should have a crumbly texture. Next, use the same spoon to stir in the herbs and cheese until they’re evenly incorporated.
Now for the wet and sticky part: pour in the buttermilk and use your wooden spoon, lifting from the bottom of the bowl, to combine it evenly with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl with the spoon and use the spoon and your hands to form a dough ball at the bottom of your bowl.
Sprinkle some flour on a large surface and lay the dough ball on top of it. Pour a small pile of flour on the side. Use your hands to flatten the dough on the surface until it’s about 1″ thick. If the dough is too sticky for you to work with, you can flip it over so that the floured side is facing up. To cut the scones, dip a 2″-ish-diameter cookie cutter (mine is an upside-down plastic measuring cup, LOL) in the small pile of flour and press it into the flattened dough. Lay your scones at least 1″ apart on baking sheets lightly dusted with flour (use aluminum foil on those sheets if you can—they’ll be way easier to clean later). If you want to use an egg wash, now is the time. Then bake the scones for about 13 minutes at 425°F. You’ll know they’re done when they start to turn golden-brown at the top or brown slightly at the base.
This recipe makes about 28 scones, which should last you, I don’t know, a couple of days?