Cheese and quince scones; a little off-piste

Cheese and quince scones; a little off-piste

It might seem an obvious thing to say, but the food I love to create, is the food I want to eat. I'm often plagued with troublesome voices trying to convince me that my food isn't cerebral enough, that it needs to be more refined and plated up as if it's on the culinary catwalk. But as time goes on, I'm accepting that the food I love to cook and the recipes I create are more homely, more comforting and more reassuring to people, somehow. My style is familiar yet sets itself apart; you know what you're going to get, but you also get something a little bit different.

I think yesterday's tinkering in the kitchen was an example of what I mean. I came across some stray bits of cheese and the remnants of the quince I poached last week in my fridge. Both were still fine to eat but needed to be used up and I wanted to incorporate them into some kind of bake. After considering savoury muffins or a tart, I plumped for American style scones.

Scones in the US are very different from the UK version; they're crisp and have a sturdy flakiness that I wanted. When eaten warm, I knew the salty cheese combined with poached quince and rich crisp pastry, akin to a giant cheese straw, would be delightful.

There's certainly nothing refined about this recipe, yet it's a bit like skiing off piste after an overnight downfall; it's familiar, yet somehow, a bit different at the same time....

I discovered US style scones in San Francisco about 8 years ago. At the time I poo poo-ed them as an imposter masquerading as a scone; scones can only be eaten with jam and clotted cream, right?  (There's actually a whole google debate about the difference between scones and biscuits in the US and by the way, a biscuit isn't a biscuit as we know it, either, it's more like a scone!). Anyway, upon eating my first US scone, I realsied they were something quite different and completely delicious in their own right.

You could change this recipe up a little if you like, exchanging the Stilton for an alternative cheese, or replacing the quince with raw (or poached) apples or pears. As I said above, I created this recipe as a result of needing to use up some leftovers which I always try to use up.

This reipe is an Ina Garten recipe that I've adapted slightly. Feel free to use more butter if you don't have any vegetable suet. I happened to have some veg suet in the cupboard following this year's mincemeat making so simply wanted to use it up. It does, however, make the scones even more flaky

Makes around 14-16

  • 600g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 250g cold unsalted butter
  • 100g vegetable suet (or just use more butter)
  • 5 eggs (4 for the dough, one to use as egg wash)
  • 250ml double cream
  • 150g mixed cheese, chopped or crumbled into small pieces
  • 1 poached quince, sliced or 1-2 apples, cored and sliced

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Preheat your oven to 190°C

Mix the flour, baking powder & salt together using a whisk.

In a food processor, with the blade attached, blend the flour mixture with the butter & suet until resembling fine breadcrumbs.  You can do this my hand as you would a crumble, rubbing the fat and flour together using your fingertips.

Transfer to a large bowl & mix in the thyme & cheese.

Beat the eggs & cream together. Using a large metal spoon, gently stir the liquid through the dry ingredients, using slicing motions.

Once almost combined, turn out onto a floured work surface & knead for a minute or so until it all comes together.

Flour the surface again & roll out to ¾ inch thick. Cut into 4 inch squares & cut each square into 2 triangles.

Beat the remaining egg &, using a pastry brush, glaze the surface of each scone.  Dot pieces of quince on top, pressing down slightly.

Transfer to 2 baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden & risen & the fruit caramelised at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack & allow to cool.

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