Monday, December 31, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Cake

I always feel a slight sense of relief when Christmas and New Year are over.  It means I can do what I want to do, in my own time, no deadlines.  Just relax.  That is what I intend to do.

I promised you chocolate cake, so here it is.  This has been my birthday chocolate cake for as long as I have been in New Zealand.  Until this year, I haven’t made it for about three years as I have been elsewhere on the day.  It’s dark, it’s moist, it’s rich – a real celebration of a cake. Oh and it's easy too.

Thank you for being with me this year and may the year ahead be what you would wish for.

Decadent chocolate cake 

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 cup hot water
250g butter, chopped into large chunks
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Whittaker’s 72% Cocoa Dark Ghana)
2 cups caster sugar
1½ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Ganache Topping

¾ cup cream
175g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 150ºC.  Lightly grease a 25cm springform cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper. 

Place coffee and water in a saucepan and add the butter.  Stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. 

Add the caster sugar and stir until smooth and the sugar is incorporated.   Remove the mix from the saucepan and transfer into a cake-mixing bowl. 

Sift the flour and cocoa together and beat with an electric beater into the mixture until just incorporated.  Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 150ºC for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Stand for 5 minutes before removing to a cake rack.  I normally invert the cake as invariably the bottom is smoother and will therefore ice better. 

When completely cold, place a tray or plate under the cake rack to collect the excess ganache.  Use this to patch any bare bits on the side (or chill and eat later!). 

The cake can be frozen by wrapping, once cold, in a layer of cling film and then a layer of tin foil.  While frozen it is easier to trim off any rough bits or flatten the top.

Ganache Topping

Heat the cream until almost boiling.  Stir in the chocolate until melted and the mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly. 

Pour over the cake allowing the ganache to dribble down the sides of the cake evenly.  Cool and set. 

Do not touch the topping as it will leave a fingermark.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ottolenghi's roasted vegetables with tahini dressing, za'atar and pine nuts

For me, birthdays are definitely something to be celebrated.  As one gets older though, the celebration is a double-edged sword.  Whilst I’m happy to celebrate the occasion, I’m not so fond of acknowledging (or should I say ignoring?) some of the other physical or mental aspects that come with another year.  But whilst I breathe and remain in good health, I have something to celebrate, so I will. 

I was planning on sharing my birthday cake with you (the recipe that is, the cake is all but gone) but running two chocolate posts consecutively at this time of year seemed like over indulgence, even to me.  So here’s one of the dishes served at my birthday lunch last Sunday (yes, I was almost a Christmas baby). 

If you’re very lucky (like me) you may just have received Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi as a Christmas present (mine was a birthday gift). 

Although I had a small box of za’atar spice, it was past the sniff-by test.  So I quickly threw some spices and herbs together using this Internet recipe  as inspiration.  It’s worth making fresh as the smell and taste is far superior than the bought blend.  I had no fresh oregano so substituted fresh thyme, which I finely chopped and added to the spices.  Coincidentally that same night, I watched Jamie Oliver’s American road trip programme.  Jamie was in New York making za’atar with an Egyptian chef and I noticed the ingredients differed slightly again.  That made me feel better.

Inhaling the spice gave me a real zing so I was not at all surprised when the dish turned out to be my favourite of the day.  I just loved that the tahini dressing, za’atar and toasted pine nuts not only made the roasted vegetables look exotic, they tasted sensational too.  And this is just the first recipe I’ve tried.  More please...

I served the pine nuts on the side as my daughter has a nut allergy.

For the recipe, click this link to the original recipe on The Guardian website.  

One last thought – I can’t believe I’m writing a blog post on Christmas Day.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Cherry Brownies

If there’s one thing to raise the hackles of my daughter, it is my habit of breaking into song at the mention of a few trigger words.  My father did this to me, so I know how it feels.  That doesn’t stop me.  It’s a hard habit to break. The latest trigger word was cherry.   Making the most of what may be a short supply cherry season,  I surprised myself (and probably the fruit shop owner) by buying a whole box of cherries.  That’s when I started singing (not in the shop, you understand) the Cherry Ripe song from a version of Alice in WonderlandAlice is taken to another world in the story and without too much exaggeration so will you when you indulge in these.  

I imagine you’re already in food overload (I know I am) but try not to resist this gooey, rich brownie studded with a sweet and juicy cherry. 

I can’t envisage you'd want to leave the cherries out, but just in case you do, this brownie will still taste good.  

Be warned though, this is the fabulous fudgy kind of brownie, not the “cakey” type (which I so loathe) so you don’t want to leave it lying around when it’s warm.  I keep mine in the fridge (being summer here).  It really is the kind of brownie you'll want to make again and again, with or without cherries.

Chocolate Cherry Brownies

200gms butter, melted
¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces ¼ inch  (0.635cm)
fresh cherries, stalk and pip removed*

*A wee note on the cherries – I haven’t given quantities as it will depend on what size you cut the brownies.  I cut mine into small squares and squidged a cherry in each portion.  Use a cherry pitter to remove the pip, otherwise cut around half of each cherry with a small, sharp knife, twist gently to detach one half and remove the pip from the other half.  You now have 2 halves of a cherry to make a whole (who said I wasn’t good at Maths?). 

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Grease a 20x30cm sponge roll tin and line with baking paper.

Place the melted butter, sifted cocoa powder, sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla in a cake mixing bowl and whisk on a low to medium speed until light in colour - about 5 minutes. 

Sift in the plain flour and add the chopped pieces of chocolate and gently fold to combine.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin.  Take two halves of a cherry to make a whole cherry.  Roughly work out how large you want each brownie portion.  Take 2 halves of a cherry (to make a whole) and push into the middle of  each bite.  

Bake for 50-55 minutes.  The brownie should be coming away from the sides of the tin but will still be soft in the middle. 

Leave to cool completely in the tin.  When cold, cut into portions.  If you find it too sticky to cut, use a jug of hot water to dip your knife into after each slice (like they do with ice cream scoops).  Dry the knife before cutting again.  It will cut cleaner without all the goo attached.

Dust with icing sugar to finish.

Like this?  Try my Plum and Chocolate Slice based on a cherry and chocolate slice recipe.

Plum (or cherry) chocolate slice

I'm submitting this to Sweet New Zealand, hosted in December by Lydia from Lydia Bakes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Blinis with Smoked Salmon and a Crème Fraiche Topping

No Christmas cards done.  Well, not strictly true.  I have posted those for overseas.  Same with presents, they’re hopefully winging their way to Scotland too.  So, just the cards and presents for people here then.

I’m beginning to feel like an ostrich, head in sand, in Christmas denial.  Not like me, I’m normally more organized.  I am ready with excuses about work being super busy and things going on way more important than Christmas, but there’s nothing to excuse me for, is there really?  I’m not late for anything yet and things will work out smoothly after all, won’t they?

I did think of this daft idea of putting myself under further pressure with a 12 Days of Christmas scenario where I would post 12 days in a row with Christmas nibbles, food gifts, etc., - anything that said Christmas and food – but I’ve pulled the reins in on that one (sorry about the pun).  I now give you the shortcut version, which roughly involves posting when and if I can.

First up for those in a rush are these easily assembled mini bites (I’m going to call them blinis), spread with a dollop of crème fraiche (with a bit of a bite) and topped with smoked salmon.  Sprinkled with snipped chives and a few snow dust grinds of lemon and dill salt, they look very festive.  If I’d had the time I would have made the blinis but I didn’t and used these mini hotcakes from the local supermarket.  They are open to all manner of interpretations and toppings.  There was no fresh dill in store so I used chives to finish.  The lemon and dill salt comes from a local supplier of a range of flavoured rock salts but you can substitute if you wish by adding grated lemon peel and fresh chopped herbs to some ground rock salt.

I took these to our Christmas book club where they were well received.  So far, so good.

Blinis with Smoked Salmon and a Crème Fraiche Topping

Recipe makes 16 blinis

16 mini hotcakes or blinis (I used 16 out of a pack of 24)
5 tablespoons Crème Fraiche
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
100g smoked salmon
fresh chives or dill to garnish
lemon and dill rock salt (optional)

In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche and horseradish sauce together.  Drop a teaspoon of the mixture onto each blini and place them on a serving plate or platter.

Top each blini with a twist of smoked salmon and garnish with tiny snips of chives and a couple of grinds of rock salt over the hotcakes and plate.  To finish, place two long thin whole chives in a diagonal cross on top of the blinis.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Strawberry season


Unless strawberries are very sweet and juicy, I'm not so taken with them in their natural state.   I just have to enhance them with sugar or vanilla syrup or cream, such is my wont (and sweet tooth).    Here's a couple of things I've done recently whilst we are in strawberry season.  The second is more of a what to do with just the wrong side of fresh strawberries assembly than a recipe - great for breakfast though.

Strawberry, rhubarb and vanilla crumble


2 punnets of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 bunch of rhubarb, washed and chopped into 2.5cm (1-inch) slices
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla syrup* (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence)
1/3 cup brown sugar (use less or more according to taste and sweetness of fruit)

Crumble topping

1 cup (120g) plain flour
1 cup (140g) brown sugar
1 cup (100g) porridge oats
100g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)

Place the strawberries, rhubarb, orange zest and juice, vanilla syrup or essence and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix to combine.  Pour into a medium sized baking dish.

For the topping, place the flour and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the porridge oats and pulse a couple of times to combine.  Pour in the melted butter and pulse just to combine.

Distribute the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the rhubarb is cooked.

Serve with cream or custard.

Sweet strawberry yoghurt muesli 

Simply soak the strawberries, preferably overnight, in the juice and zest of an orange (just enough to coat the fruit) and a teaspoon of vanilla syrup* (or a couple of drops of vanilla essence).  In the morning, put a layer of muesli (see my recipe here) or cereal in a glass or bowl, top with a layer of yoghurt and finish off with the strawberries.  (I zap the strawberries in the microwave for about 10 seconds just to take the chill off before using).

*In both recipes, I used Equagold's Tahitian Vanilla Syrup - another of those divine products given to us at the Food Blogger' Conference.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

etcetera ...

Admiring someone else's plate

A Taste of Auckland

I took the resident hobby photographer along to the Taste of Auckland culinary festival last Thursday (for his photography prowess, not his conversation skills L). Fortunately, those exhibiting had conversation in abundance for me so I didn’t feel lonely. The threatened rain stayed away until we were heading home and little plops began to fall.  Good timing.  

Euro's lamb dish

I’d done some research beforehand to save time dithering on what I was going to sample, so off we headed to Euro for my “main course” of lamb, while Bill chose and slurped his way through their wickedly good sauce of jalapeno crème fraiche, dotted with a small helping of crab and prawns.  He won on that round. My roasted lamb rump was fine but I thought it would be great.  The mint and pea panna cotta accompanying it was the real standout both for taste and attractiveness.

My wine pick from the Vilagrad Winery stand was a 3 Brothers Wairarapa Pinot Noir and strangely enough for me, this was the only glass or taste I had all evening.

Make mine a Prawn Cocktail please

Reversing my own meal order and returning to starters, I visited Mexico for the tall cocktail of Prawns in Chipotle Mayo with baby cos lettuce, green gazpacho and candied lime.  The latter stole the show for me, with its sweet twist giving a fresh touch to the dish.  Bill had the beef skirt tacos with green tomatillo, candied pepitas and nasturtium leaves, which he found just “okay”.  Top marks though for Mexico’s colourful stand design.

And so to my favourite part of any meal, anytime, anywhere  (I scour the dessert menu before anything else – don’t tell me you’re not the same?).  There was no way I was savouring any dessert other than that from Kermadec chef, Juan Balsani.  After his demo at the NZ Food Bloggers’ Conference at the Chocolate Festival in Wellington, I have been waiting for this. 

The chocolate I've been waiting for...

If there was any reason I wish I had not taken Bill along, it was precisely at that moment when, chatting with chef Juan, he (jokingly, okay?) told him that I had his photo on our walls at home.  I wished I’d worn sharp stilettos with which to force a long hole for me to drop into with my scarlet face (and given Bill a quick, sharp kick on my way down!)  I recovered enough to immerse myself in the delicious experience of breaking open that chocolate globe to spoon up the glorious silky chocolate inside, combining it with the taste texture sensation of cocoa powder and green pepper tuiles, balsamic poached strawberries and polenta crumbs.  Maravilloso!

For the record, Bill did another round of mains and dessert at Depot with a BBQ pulled pork slider with apple slaw and pickled jalapenos and, to finish, his favourite sweet – lemon meringue pie with cream – which looked so appealing with its perfect peaks.  He was more than happy with his choices.

We headed home out of the city and over the hills after a thoroughly pleasant evening meandering around food tents, listening to cool music from the Nairobi Trio or Peter Urlich and tasting whatever took our fancy from places we'd really like to visit.  That’s what Taste of Auckland is all about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Poached Pears with Clotted Cream

Say July to me and I’ll tell you it’s summer.  Even after twenty years of being in the southern hemisphere I still can’t get my seasons right.  I’m eating and cooking with pears and my mind’s tuning in to autumn, hence the pears. Here. Now. When it’s not autumn.  But somewhere in the world it is autumn (or fall), so this is for you, my friend.

The starting point was clotted cream.  If you are familiar with clotted cream in England you may be disappointed to find “Devonshire teas” in New Zealand are not served with traditional clotted cream but with ordinary whipped cream.  I was, but then I got over it.

Some time ago, a work colleague, who hails from Devon, gave me a slow cooker recipe for clotted cream.  She was excited as she’d sent it in to NZ chef Peter Gordon in response to his request in his newspaper column for clotted cream suppliers and her reply was published.  It is so very easy you must try it.

Instead of marrying it up with scones, I matched it with some poached pears for a simple pudding (I love the word “pudding”).  The inspiration came from some poached pears I’d eaten at Dida’s Food Store in Auckland during a dinner and talk with Dianne Jacob (more on that in my next Etcetera post).

Traditionally clotted cream uses unpasteurized milk but, hey ho, even though I live in the country the only milk making it to my house is the supermarket standard (full cream) milk.  (Visions of me on a milking stool milking a cow? Not likely!)

This pudding is my entry for Sweet New Zealand, hosted for November by pet lover, Lucy at The Kitchen Maid.

Tips for clotted cream

Start the recipe two days before required as it has to cook for 10 hours, cool and then chill  for 10 hours.

Follow the instructions for the use of your own slow cooker.

Try and match the dish you use for the cream and milk to the shape of your slow cooker for maximum area coverage.  The more surface area you have the more cream you will get as the cream forms on the surface of the dish.  So if you have an oval shaped slow cooker, use an oval shaped dish.  I used a Pyrex glass dish (without the lid) inside the slow cooker.  

After skimming off the top, cover the leftover milk with the lid and store in the fridge.  Use it to make scones or a rice pudding. 

Store the cream in the fridge but leave at room temperature prior to serving to soften.

The cream is best eaten on the day or next day. 

Clotted Cream

Makes a small bowlful (see photo above) - approximately ¾ cup.  
Double the recipe if required and if you have the room in your slow cooker.

500mls (1 pint) full cream milk
250mls (1/2 pint) single cream

Turn the slow cooker on to “low” setting.

Invert a saucer on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place a Pyrex dish, or similar, on top of the saucer to fit your slow cooker. 

Mix the milk and cream in a large jug and pour gently into the bowl in the slow cooker.

Carefully pour water into the slow cooker so that it comes up to approximately 4cms from the top of the container holding the milk and cream.   Replace lid on slow cooker (not container) and leave for approximately 10 hours or overnight.  A lovely golden crust should have formed.

Leave to cool, then place in fridge for approx 10 hours. Take crust and cream off the top (it pretty much comes off in one piece) and there you have it, yummy clotted cream.  Stir gently and serve.

Save the leftover milk in the fridge for another recipe.

Poached Pears

4 firm eating pears, firm and slightly under-ripe
600ml (1 pint) good red wine
65g (2½ oz) sugar

Peel the pears, leaving the stalk on and keeping the pears whole.  Place in a heavy saucepan, add the wine and sugar, stir and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the pears are tender (test them with a skewer trying not to mark them too much). 

When the pears are ready remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Reduce the liquid over a high heat until it has the consistency of syrup. 

Place the pears on the plates and spoon over the syrup.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Millionaires’ Shortbread

Millionaires’ shortbread.  Those two words have been repeating and repeating in my mind over the last few days.  I blame these two here and here for doubly tempting me with chocolate treats that looked irresistible, if only I had them in front of me.  Try as I might (and I did try), I could not stop thinking of them.  The mantra would not leave me and so I indulged my hankering for things chocolate and made some of my own.  I feel good.

You may know these as chocolate caramel slices or something like that.  I’ve always known them in Scotland as Millionaires’ Shortbread and surely that perfectly describes shortbread, dressed up with layers of caramel and chocolate riches?

I make no excuses for my less than perfect serves.  I fail regularly on the "precision cutting, no smudges, marks or blemishes" type of perfection.  It is home baking after all.

Millionaires’ Shortbread
makes about 24 squares

175g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
250g plain flour
a pinch of salt

Caramel layer
100g butter
100g soft brown sugar (or muscovado sugar)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 x 375g cans sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate layer
200g good dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa) (or use milk chocolate if you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Lightly grease and line the bottom of a Swiss roll tin approximately 33x23cm (13x9 inches).

Shortbread layer
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy (scraping down the mixture two or three times during the mixing).

Sift the flour and salt into the mixture and bring together until a dough is formed.  Press the dough into the tin until evenly spread.  Prick the dough lightly with a fork.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the shortbread is firm to the touch and lightly browned (as you can see from the photo some of mine were more lightly browned than others!).

Leave to cool in the tin.

Caramel layer
Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  When it reaches boiling, reduce heat and simmer gently, still stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly.  Pour over the cooled shortbread layer and leave to set.

Note: It is important to stir continuously and not let the caramel “catch” or burn in the saucepan.  If lumps appear, remove pan from heat for a few seconds then return to simmer gently.  Remove any lumps by pouring the caramel onto the shortbread layer through a sieve.  As long as the caramel does not taste burnt (let it cool slightly before you try it!), it will be fine.

Chocolate topping
Break the chocolate into squares or pieces.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl) until it is smooth and there are no lumps.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cold caramel layer and leave to set.

When the chocolate is just set, cut into squares or bars.

Note:  If you like thicker layers, just add more caramel and/or chocolate the next time.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cranberry, vanilla and yogurt loaf

I was having a sloth-like morning.  Everything I touched turned to “no”.  Didn’t feel like going out, didn’t feel like baking.  Three times I started gathering ingredients for recipes and three times I put them away.  Most unproductive.  I loathe using the phrase “I can’t be bothered”, but that’s how I felt.

Later in the afternoon the apathy lifted and a sudden burst of energy resulted in this lovely loaf which wasn’t even in the running earlier.  It does have the air of a “cheer me now” cake so perhaps it was just what I needed.  Each slice has little bursts of cranberries and a taste and texture reminiscent of a madeira cake.  The icing could be optional but I urge you to spread it on.  It adds a crunch, a tang, a touch of sweetness and just makes it look way more special than an ordinary fruit loaf. 

This little happy cake is my entry to Sweet New Zealand hosted this month by the delightful Sue at Couscous & Consciousness.  

Cranberry, vanilla and yogurt loaf

100g butter
100g caster sugar
300g Greek-style (or natural) yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
250g standard flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g dried cranberries

for the icing
100g icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbsp fresh orange juice, sieved
pink food colouring

Preheat oven to 160°C (180°F)

Grease and line a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a cake mixer until soft and fluffy (you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times in the process). 

Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix on lowest speed until just combined.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and fold gently into the mix in two batches.  Add the cranberries and fold in gently (check the cranberries do not stick together in bunches).  Do not overmix.

Spoon the mix into the loaf tin.  Level the top with a palette knife dipped in a little hot water. 

Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely, then ice.

For the icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough orange juice to make a smooth consistency, not too runny or too thick.  (Add more icing sugar if too runny or more orange juice if too thick).  Add a drop of food colouring.  I use a skewer for this and dip it into the colouring, adding enough to reach the desired colour.  Mix thoroughly until smooth and colouring incorporated.  Spread or drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

Adapted from a recipe for sour cherry yogurt cake from Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell.

Monday, October 8, 2012

best ever cheese scones

So here goes, you taste scones at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school (see here) and they're the best cheese scones you have ever tasted.  Everyone around you agrees so you really have to try these at home, don’t you?  Problem was I had no recipe, only a few hints and clues hastily scribbled on my iPhone. (Can you scribble on an iPhone? Yes, I think you can ‘cos it has a font that looks like handwriting.)

In my first attempt, finding the right mix was like playing Cluedo.  Was it the plain flour with the cheese in the kitchen?  No?  Perhaps the self-raising flour with the salt in the parlour?  Good job I like Cluedo.  I may not have got all three answers in the bag but I was pretty pleased with the result. I have to admit it took me five scones to figure that out.  In my defence, they were small ones.

For the second trial, I used guinea pigs in the form of two strapping lads who came inside for a coffee break after digging up the garden beds (with my permission, I might add).  This time I’d tweaked the recipe by changing the plain flour to self-raising and adding more cheese.

I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that I only ate three scones this time.  The bad news is that they were bigger scones.  I know, it’s only bad news for me.  

The even better news is that they worked.  The boys were happy, I was happy and maybe you could be happy too if you just try them, who knows?  They may not be 100% as gorgeous and perfect looking as Le Cordon Bleu’s but I think they’re still a winner. 

The secret, I think, is to:
  •  use lots of cheese (I used Vintage* cheddar)
  •  have a wet dough
  •  handle the dough as little as possible
If you make them slightly smaller, like the first batch, you don’t even need butter.  They are simply yummy! 

Best ever cheese scones

2 cups self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
50g cold butter
2/3 cup cheddar cheese (I used Mainland Vintage*)
1 cup milk
extra cheese to top the scones

Heat the oven to 230°C (450°F).

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Either grate the chilled butter into the mix or cut it into small dices.  With your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in the cheese.

Mix the cup of milk in lightly and quickly using a knife or palette knife until it just forms a dough. Do not overmix.  The dough will be quite wet at this stage.

On a lightly floured board and with floured hands, gently roll the dough into a long cylindrical shape and shape into an even thickness.  If the dough feels too sticky, put a little more flour on the board and your hands – just enough to continue. Cut into rounds, big or small, and place them on a greased oven tray or a tray lined with greaseproof paper. 

Grate some extra cheese over the tops of the scones – I like to use a reasonable amount.

Place the tray near the top of the oven.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the scones are golden brown.  Remove to a cake rack and cover with a dry tea towel to keep warm.  Serve as is, or with butter.

Best eaten warm on the day – believe me they don’t last long.

* Mainland Vintage is an aged cheddar with a crumbly texture and real bite.

For a sweet alternative, click here for cranberry & custard scones