At work we have twice a month a Friday "discussion round". Usually one of us explains his work/results while someone else brings something to eat, snacks and similar. In a certain sense one supplies food for the brain while another food for the body and that was me last week. I decided to prepare, among a couple of other things, some tiny spicy cheese and onion scones I had been wanting to try for ages. The recipe comes from The Ballymaloe Bread Book. This is a great reference book for Irish bakery. Soda bread, scones and sweet buns recipes are especially good. I'm not really happy with the recipes I've tried from the ethnic and flavoured breads sections, but those were not the chapters that pushed me to buy the book anyway.
Before I go on to describe the recipe I wanted to spend a couple of words on Ballymaloe House. This country residence is probably the most important high end B&B/restaurant in Ireland, setting the standard for other similar establishments. They also run a cookery school which is highly renowned in Ireland, having produced many of the country's top chefs. BTW if someone extremely rich who really likes my blog would like to give me a gift voucher for their 12-weeks course I'd be happy to accept... well I can try can't I? :-))). If you happen to be in Ireland this is a place that deserves to be tried. Even if you're on a tight budget, like us last summer, you could consider eating there for lunch, which has a fixed price of 30 or 35 Euro. The sweets trolley is almost worth the price on its own.
Back to the scones. I slightly changed the recipe to include a bit more cheese than the original. I used:
2 small onions, finely chopped and cooked with a bit of oil till just starting to caramelise
450g (1 lb.) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon each: mustard powder, chilli powder, salt and crushed black pepper
3 tsp baking powder
50 g (1.8 oz) butter
50 g (1.8 oz) each grated Parmesan and grated Cheddar
225 ml (7.8 fl oz) milk
some egg yolk and grated parmesan as topping.
I sifted the flour, added the dry ingredients and mixed well. I rubbed in the butter, cut into small pieces, then added cheese and onions. Finally I beat the egg with the milk, added them to the dough and kneaded only as needed to get the dough together in a ball. To form the scones I just patted/rolled the dough into a rectangle, 2 cm high, brushed it with egg and sprinkled with the remaining parmesan. I then used my dough cutter to divide the rectangle into 2 cm square scones. These went into my oven, preheated at 180C/350F, for about 12 minutes.RIt was all really quick, scones take very little time.
The scones tasted good (especially with wine) but I had a few ideas for other "snack" scones with cheese that could be even better:
-blue cheese and walnut
-fresh goat cheese and herbs
-Tuscan pecorino (or Spanish sheep cheese) glazed with honey
To be continued.....