Recipe: Cheese Scones

As much as I love my mum’s classic scones, there’s something about the cheesy versions I just can’t resist. I like mine warm from the over (or zapped in the microwave), split and spread with an indecent amount of butter. I also enjoy them cold, split and filled with mustard and ham – a take on my favourite sandwich. Just typing this is making me hungry!

 photo Cheese Scones_zpszs4rfcac.png photo Cheese Scones 6_zps7wq1gfba.jpgI’m very definitely a savoury person. Sure, I love a slice of cake or a chocolate bar as much as the next person, but when I’m dreaming of food (more often than I care to admit!) it’s always the savoury options that get my tummy rumbling. A good Ploughman’s lunch, a steaming hot pasty, a plate of Welsh rarebit, I love a good hearty snack. I also can’t resist cheese straws, but perhaps that’s a recipe for another time…

The key with cheese scones is to not overload them with cheese, particularly when sprinkling the tops. Trust me, this is easier said that done! An overly cheesy scone won’t rise as well, so the final result will be a little heavy. Still delicious, but you wouldn’t want more than one – and where’s the fun in that?!

 photo Cheese Scones 2_zpsb6lzxnju.jpgThese cheese scones, made to my mum’s recipe (actually, she baked the photographed ones for our engagement party way back in August), are super cheesy without sacrificing the rise. They are also well-seasoned – I also like mine with a slight kick of spice from mustard and cayenne, though feel free to leave this out for a more classic flavour.

Ingredients

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • pinch each of salt, black pepper, mustard powder and cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2oz butter
  • 4oz cheese, plus an extra 1oz for topping – a strong mature cheddar works well, but I can’t resist Red Leicester for scones
  • 80-90 ml milk, plus extra for glazing

 photo Cheese Scones 4_zpsevssaiyc.jpgSift together the flour, seasonings and baking powder until thoroughly combined. Cut the butter (make sure it is very cold) into cubes, place in the bowl and then rub in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Grate the cheese into the breadcrumb mixture and rub in until evenly distributed.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in enough milk to give a dough. Do not pour in all the milk at once as you may not need it all to get the right consistency – use a wooden spoon to stir in between additions, stopping just as the dough begins to come together. Chill the dough for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough to approximately 2cm thick on a floured surface. Cut out the scones and then place on a lined tray. Glaze with milk and sprinkle a little cheese on the top of each scone. Bake at 190C for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. If you prefer a crispier top, bake at 200C for crunchy out and soft inner. Serve warm with butter, or cold as the bread-replacement in a sandwich lunch.

 photo Cheese Scones 1_zpsiz8ryjh3.jpgNow I have an idea: a double-scone afternoon tea. A first course of a warm cheese scone, dripping with melted butter. Then a second course of the classic scone with jam and cream. Sounds perfect to me!

Ooh, I just noticed as I scheduled this – it’s exactly two years until our wedding! The almost-ten-months since we got engaged has flown by, so I’m hoping it continues to go as quickly!

Are you a fan of cheese scones?

Lifestyle: Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall

I love a good old fashioned Afternoon Tea, I’m a huge fan of chocolate – so it doesn’t get much better than a Chocolate Afternoon Tea. Add in a gorgeous spa hotel, comfy sofas, gossiping with my mummy and some Champagne and you’ve got a perfect way for me to while away a few hours.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 7_zpsz7lz3oyv.jpgWith university and exams getting in the way, I shamefully realised in August that I hadn’t yet treated my mum to the lunch I promised her for Mother’s Day. Way back in March. Whoops! To rectify things I booked the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall – this was the perfect treat to indulge our sweet teeth (tooths?) and spend some quality time together ahead of my move to London.

The afternoon tea setting was gorgeous. A large room full of sofas and comfy chairs, bookings are limited to avoid overcrowding and allowing tables to stay occupied for as long as possible. We were there for approaching three hours and never once felt rushed. We were also able to gossip away without feeling like we were disturbing nearby tables, perfect for a girly afternoon.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 10_zps5dw8s04q.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 6_zpsvyazvkxa.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 5_zps0kim67zh.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 4_zpss5uo8z38.jpgThere was a bit of a mix-up with our afternoon tea – a not very chocolately one arrived, but we assumed it was fine so tucked in. It was only after we’d polished off the scones (me picking out the dried fruit, very classy) that we saw the actual chocolate tea being delivered to another table. We enquired to the most loveliest waiter who promptly refreshed our top layer of cakes and pastries to a chocolate one, offered us the chocolate chip scones (declined for fear of our waistlines) and poured us a complimentary glass of ‘apology’ champagne. Damn good service right there! The standard AT included a peach cream, mini Victoria sponge and many other dainty little bits.

Pots of tea were unlimited, myself having a malty Assam, and mum the good ol’English Breakfast. Both loose leaf, both with plenty of milk and sugar and extra pots of water provided. And very good tea it was too.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 2_zpswxsq5vhj.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 3_zpsmt2rqjvr.jpgThe sandwiches were obviously made fresh, lovely soft bread and generous fillings. I was pleased to see the cucumber had been deseeded, which made the world of difference to what is usually quite a soggy sandwich. The salmon was fresh, though neither of us are the biggest fans of it. We also weren’t hugely taken with the ham and mustard; a combination I normally love, I found it a little sweet-tasting. And the best part of an Afternoon tea, for me, is the top plate so I didn’t want to fill up too quickly!

Scones were good, though being of the fruit variety I ended up picking at mine. Served warm, the cream melted into the soft inner, and I loved that they were served with a raspberry jam. I much prefer it to strawberry, and for me it compliments rather than clashes with the clotted cream.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 8_zpsai7bxbve.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 9_zpslwys8rut.jpgAnd now for the top plate. Once ours was swapped for the chocolate version, we were delighted with our choice. I also found out that dark chocolate and champagne was an unexpectedly enjoyable combination. We had an ‘ice cream’ cone filled with a light chocolate mousse, a chocolate macaroon, a few different ganache covered cakes and a white chocolate and raspberry tart. Everything was gorgeous, though I was most impressed with the macaroon (intensely chocolately despite its pale colour) and the tart which added a burst of freshness. Everything was well prepared, tasted fresh and clearly used good quality chocolate. Not an afternoon tea for the faint-hearted, perhaps, as it was rather rich, but perfect for a girly afternoon.

I’ll just have to head back soon to sample the chocolate-chip scones!

Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea?

 

Recipe: Mum’s Classic English Scones

First off, it’s a scone, pronounced s-cone. As in police cone. Not a s-con.

 photo Mums Classic Scones_zpsffpxbynw.jpgNow that’s cleared up, it’s onto my mum’s scone recipe. Whilst my mum isn’t a massive baker, there are some things she does really, really well. I’ve yet to try a Pear & Raspberry crumble as good as my mums, her Victoria Sponges are far more reliable than mine, and then there’s her scones. The first thing I asked her to make for our engagement party. You’ve had my dad’s recipe for his Malteser Blondies, now it’s mums turn.

And these are well worth waiting for. A good outer crust, soft within and just the right side of crumbly, these are my perfect scone. They virtually split themselves, are light enough to not be overwhelming when piled with clotted cream, just sweet enough to taste good without contrasting the (raspberry) jam. So yep, the perfect scone. Even better served warm enough for the cream to melt into the scone…

 photo Classic Scones 2_zpsvxob2bsy.jpgIngredients

  • 8oz flour (self-raising works best)
  • 2oz butter
  • 1oz sugar
  • 5fl oz full fat ‘blue’ milk

Tip the flour into a large bowl, and stir through a pinch of finely ground table salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar, then use a knife to stir in the milk – you will end up with a soft dough. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly – don’t overwork as this makes the scones tough to eat, and they will also fail to rise. Pat or roll out to  2cm thickness. Stamp out rounds (we use a 5cm cutter) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat to use up all the dough.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for at 200C 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve with jam and clotted cream.

 photo Classic Scones 1_zpsakujf7l6.jpgThis amount make a good eight scones if you like them on the large size, or perhaps 12 more dainty sized afternoon-tea portions. Apologies for the imperial measurements, that’s just what my mum sticks to – she will even convert recipes from metric to imperial!

Whilst we’re talking about baking, who’s been enjoying good old Bake Off?! #GBBO time of the year is definitely the best time of year, I’ve even marked my work diary as ‘busy’ from 5pm on Wednesdays so I know I’ll be back/cooked/washed up in time for a cuddle up on the sofa with a baked good or two. I’m attempting a bit of a bake-long (though unfortunately I’m not able to blog-along due to time constraints – it has resulted in some epic recipes though!) but baking can be SO expensive. Luckily  voucherbox.co.uk has created the Great British Save Off, a weekly price comparison of GBBO recipes and the best value supermarket to buy ingredients from each week. This makes it so easy to save a few pennies here and there (batter week’s cheapest store was ASDA) – making it possible to do even more baking. Can’t go wrong really…

*Post in collaboration with voucherbox, all opinions are my own, apart from the recipe with is (of course!) my mums!

Are you are fan of scones? Where’s the best scone you’ve ever had – I’m desperate for afternoon tea recommendations in London!

Lifestyle: High Tea @ Tiny Tim’s Tearoom, Canterbury

A bit of a Canterbury institution, I can’t believe it took me four years to get to Tiny Tim’s. So many people have recommended it to me, via word of mouth, here on the blog, at university. It’s almost embarrassing that next month I graduate, and very nearly did so without visiting this charming little tearoom.

 photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 1_zpsuuc4oqlh.jpgLuckily, myself and housemates decided to celebrate end-of-exams with a girly few hours of gossip, tea and sugar. Arriving seemingly before the rush (as soon we were seated, an out-of-door queue for tables formed), we oggled the massive slabs of cake on display, slightly over-awed at the scones the size of our faces. The good one of us ordered soup and a single slice of cake. The other two had already decided on the High Tea. No prizes for guessing that I wasn’t that sensible person…

 photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 2_zpsrndszfqk.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 10_zpsz9gyr44u.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 11_zpstvnfixwn.jpgI’m not too sure whether this is an example of a traditional High Tea (or even if such a thing exists!) but a Tiny Tim’s High Tea is simply an afternoon tea, with the finger sandwiches and savouries being replaced by two buttered crumpets topped with a poached egg.

My experience of afternoon tea has always found the savoury element a bit disappointing, so this option sounds perfect – and indeed I found it far more enjoyable. The crumpets (though I doubted they were homemade) tasted fresh, were grilled to a slight crisp, soaked in butter and topped with a perfectly poached egg. I thought a heavily buttered crumpet couldn’t be topped – runny yolk filling the holes somehow manages to make it even better. A combination I’ve dreamed of ever since.

 photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 4_zpsibshy0vt.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 13_zps0ev7a4ik.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 12_zpsl39mzpjy.jpgAdvised to eat from the bottom up, the next ‘course’ was the scones. I’ll put this out there now, I’m not a huge fan of scones. I find them too often dry, heavy and just a bit boring. Other than my mum’s, I’ve never fully enjoyed a scone – but these were good ones. Still warm from the oven, so much so that the clotted cream (I’m a cream before jam kinda gal!) melted into them. The jam wasn’t too sweet, and actually tasted of strawberry, and the whole thing was light with a crunchy exterior. So good, but saving room for the final tier, I only ate half…

And it was well worth saving the room for – without a doubt my favourite part of an afternoon tea is the pastries. Here we had a cream-filled shortbread (buttery and crisp), a tart seemingly filled with apricot jam topped with a meringue (sticky, fruity, with a perfectly dry meringue), and a brownie (gooey, rich, one of the best examples of a brownies I’ve eaten outside of my own kitchen).

 photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 7_zpsk8xfeonp.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 5_zpsk9y8qhrx.jpg photo Tiny Tims Tearoom Canterbury 6_zpsv9k8zpb4.jpgService was friendly and quick, although I would have liked a refill of the teapot – we only managed to squeeze two cups each out, which I thought was a little mean. The atmosphere was wonderful, with enough background noise to chat whilst still feeling relaxed, and an old chap playing the piano to add to the experience. I’ll definitely be heading back before graduation to sample their epic looking coffee cake – I only wish I’d visited sooner!

Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea? I’d love some London-based recommendations to add to my list!

Lifestyle: Tea & Cake at Beckworth Emporium

Or rather, hot chocolate and cake…

 photo cca63e43-51cc-429b-a5fd-cd1a150c39bd_zps797b6b1b.jpgTrying to make the post of our weekends together is getting a little more difficult for myself and boyfriend. He’s entering a busy period at university, lots of project deadlines, lots of group meetings, and I’m undergoing a relatively large project at work. If we know we’ve got a busy weekend, we’ll agree to go out for just a few hours with no distractions. The time means we focus on each other rather than anything else (an important thing in a long distance relationship!), and generally pack those hours with fun and (usually) yummy food.

 photo 2014-11-08170536_zpsca28f49e.jpgLast time I saw him we decided to head into the countryside (along with our good friend Howard) for a little afternoon snack at a local ‘garden centre.’ Beckworth Emporium is so much more than a typical garden centre, with a pretty cool farm shop, lots of gifts, the usual plants, and an impressive eating area. I’m desperate to go for afternoon tea one day, but they look huge. I struggled with the relatively small one I had earlier in the year, so I reckon this would defeat me!

 photo 2014-11-08170436_zps7dead638.jpgI ordered their Ultimate Hot Chocolate with Cream and Marshmallows, alongside their Chocolate & Salted Caramel cake. It might have been chocolate overload, and I might have been on a sugar high for the next few hours, but I have no regrets. Their hot chocolates is one of the best around. Not too rich, but chocolatey and none of the powdery nonsense in the bottom of the cup. The cake was pretty special too. Moist, rich, with a sweet icing just offset enough by the saltiness of the caramel. A huge and generous slice too, you certainly get your monies worth at Beckworth!

 photo 2014-11-08170502_zpsc394d724.jpgThe boys had tea and scones. I’m not really a scone person, but they had no complaints. There was the usual debate over whether to jam them cream, or cream then jam – any advice on this?!

 photo 2014-11-08170747_zpsdfe810c4.jpgI’m hoping to head back to Beckworth Emporium closer to Christmas – they have an ice rink, with incredibly pricing skating lessons. I’ve always loved ice skating, but have next to no confidence, so I’m thinking of going for a lesson or two in the hope of stopping me from holding onto the side. Ice skating followed by hot chocolate, sounds good to me!
 photo 2014-11-08170736_zps9e8a1a45.jpgNow a cheeky request- I’d love it if you could vote for me in the 2015 UK Blog Awards. I’m lucky enough be in the Food, Young Bloggers (not too sure where this entry is) and Lifestyle categories! And if you vote for me I’ll post out cake… 😉

Where’s your favourite place to go for ‘tea’ and cake? 

Restaurant Review: Number 12 Tearoom

 photo 2014-03-12133535_zpsde638408.jpg A few months ago I was spending some time procrastinating and reading Groupon deals when I came across an offer I couldn’t resist. This result in myself and Libby ditching revision one sunny Wednesday afternoon a few weeks ago and treating ourselves to a pretty bargainous afternoon tea.

Our voucher was High Tea for Two – we paid £12 for this instead of the usual £30, which we thought was excellent value. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth £30 (in my mind Canterbury is pricy as we get loads of tourists who do actually pay the full price!) but for £12 it was wonderful and I’m searching Groupon for deals like this in the future!

 photo 2014-03-12133659_zps4a371a7c.jpg We were brought out a huge pot of tea (we got three cups each, and they kept offering more), and then a three-tiered stand with all kinds of yummy things…

 photo 2014-03-12133637_zps4a8cff04.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135007_zps966dc185.jpg I’m one for doing things in the ‘proper’ order so we started with the sandwiches. We both avoided the Tuna & Cucumber, but devoured the others. I was a bit dubious about the Cheese & Chutney as I am not the biggest chutney fan – its often a bit sweet and I don’t find it the best partner for cheesy. However this was quite savoury, there wasn’t too much of it, and it went well with the local sourdough bread. The best though (and probably THE best sandwich I’ve had in a long time!) was the Ham & Mustard. I’ve now developed a love for mustard, and I’ve had to include the extra picture – just look at how thick that ham is!

 photo 2014-03-12133733_zps2d6f6608.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135516_zpsc0676df7.jpg The next tier was the scones. I scored the plain scone (dried fruit is not my thing at all), and after a quick debate of ‘cream then jam’ or ‘jam then cream’ we got stuck in. The scones were crispy on the outside and fluffy within – only problem was they were so big I couldn’t finish mine. Not when there was another tier to go…

 photo 2014-03-12133726_zps97bade82.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12142816_zpseb3ce93b.jpg I’d been eyeing up the top tier since we sat down, the cakes are always the best bit in my opinion. These didn’t disappoint. There was a slice of Victoria Sponge each – I thought it was a nice touch that this included a different flavoured jam to that served with the scones. Then there was a few little bits to share. First was a Gypsy Tart, which was lovely although very sweet and virtually impossible to share as it was so gooey. I’m tempted to try and bake a version myself though! Finally we finished with a very small piece of brownie – thankfully it was small as it was very rich.

 photo 2014-03-12134046_zps1b70aa94.jpg Eventually we left, very full, to spend some quality time with the Boots make-up aisles…It was lovely to spend some time with a friend and relax for an afternoon. No chance of that now – exam timetables are up and its all systems go on the revision front for the next few months!

Have you ever been for Afternoon Tea?