Treats Without Sweets: Cheese Scones

Lately, I’ve tried to take the advice of Lady Hirons and trim sweet things from my diet. Because I found myself reaching for sweet treats more often than not, I’ve decided that a three week fast from sweets was necessary to somewhat reset my cravings and remind me that I can, indeed, live without sugar.

Sadly, this coincided with the beginning of a new rehearsal cycle with a director who likes┬áto schedule Saturday morning rehearsals and loves to have breakfast treats to keep us motivated. I generally like to bake for my acting colleagues, so I was somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t bring a batch of soft, sweet cream scones with cream and jam. But then I thought, well treats don’t have to be sweet, and I could easily bake scones without sugar. But they might be rather bland. So I thought back to my old Nigella Lawson recipe for onion pie with cheese scone dough and decided to make a batch of cheese scones.

These are really a simple batch of scones, without even any egg to give them more structure. I recommend you use a nice, sharp cheese, as the sharper the cheese, the stronger the cheese flavor will be. I eat them without any accompaniment, though I imagine a tart jam might be nice.

Cheese Scones

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick of cold butter, cubed
4 oz. shredded cheese
2 cups cold milk

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and then cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the cheese. Add the milk, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. Pat the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/2″ thick, and then fold three times, like a letter, and again in half. Pat this out again and cut out your scones. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until quite brown. Makes about 8 scones.

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Christmas Festivities

My Christmas was lovely. It started the evening before, with dinner at my grandparents’ home. Classic appetizers of summer sausage, cheese, crackers, and a platter of shrimp cocktail led into a lovely traditional dinner of roast beef, scalloped potatoes, and a homemade pie for dessert.

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My grandmother had received a some lovely flowers and put them in her sun room, along with all her other flowers. The whole effect was lovely and reminded me of old British TV shows where there are always flowers.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9d0/80693568/files/2014/12/img_0132.jpgThe next morning, we rose late for us, though still early by many standards. Boyfriend and my mother made coffee while I made a cup of tea. Earl Grey with lemon, in a mug my mother was given by a friend who went for a trip on the Queen Elizabeth II.

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We opened our gifts and enjoyed the displays of thoughtful generosity. I appreciate that my family does not offer excessive amounts of gifts. It’s just enough for each person to feel thought-of, without too much clutter. After opening gifts, I made scones while my mother cleaned fruit and cooked bacon.

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We had a lovely breakfast of fruit, bacon, and scones with cream, jam, and lemon curd. By noon, we were ready to get cleaned up and go visiting. We stopped at a dear friend’s house, where she and her family were opening their gifts. After that stop, Boyfriend and I made the trip up to his family’s house in another city. On the trip, we had the chance to listen to two Christmas radio plays airing on the various local stations we passed along the drive. We arrived, tired but still feeling festive, and wrapped up our Christmas day with a pot roast dinner with his family.

 

Everyday Scones

When I was little, my mother taught me about table manners by having tea parties. I never really understood the fake tea parties you see children characters on television having because when I had a tea party, I did not invite my stuffed animals and serve imaginary food. My mother set out real china and had finger sandwiches and scones.

Scones are one of my favorite baked goods, and something that I’ve perfected in my baking repetoire, although I generally bake rich, light cream scones.┬áThe other day, I woke up and I wanted scones with my breakfast tea, so I found a recipe for English scones, which tend to be less sweet and greasy than those things you find in American coffeeshops. And then I tweaked it just a little, using one cup of sprouted whole wheat flour and one cup of cake flour for the two cups of plain flour. They baked up tender, with enough structure to hold onto butter and jam at breakfast.

I folded in a handful of currants, leftover from Christmas cake baking, just before shaping and cutting them. It reminded me of the time I offered a friend a currant scone, to which he looked bewildered and answered, “Well, I wouldn’t want a past scone.” Some misunderstanding about “currant” versus “current,” it would seem. But these were both current scones and currant scones. I cut them into wedges, put two of them on a baking sheet, and tucked them into a hot oven.

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And then, I froze the rest of the batch. I laid them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment, put them in the freezer for about an hour, and then moved the now-solid wedges to a plastic zipper bag and froze them. So now, when I wake up in the morning, I can take a scone or two out of the freezer and put them on a baking sheet, preheat my oven, and have scones in about 15 minutes, just long enough to gather my wits, brew a cup of tea, and lay out the rest of my breakfast.

Half-Wheat Scones
(adapted from here)

1 cup cake flour
1 cup sprouted wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
1 beaten egg
6-8 Tbsp. milk
handful of dried fruit, peel, or nuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment. Stir together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Scatter the bits of butter over the dry mixture and work the butter in with your fingers until it resembles crumbly pebbles. Beat together the egg and 5 Tbsp. of milk and add to the dry ingredients. Stir together, adding more milk a dribble at a time if needed, until it comes together into a nice dough. Fold in the fruit or nuts or peel now it you like. Form into a circle and pat to 1/2″ thick. Cut into 8 wedges and bake for 8 or 9 minutes, until golden at the edges.