Cheesy Sentimental Scones – not just for Valentine’s Day.

I’m the kind of tiresome dunderhead that decries the notion of Valentine’s Day as being a commercially-charged farce, yet, if poor old Niall didn’t get me anything on the day itself he’d be in serious trouble. Talk about mixed messages.

What I don’t like about Valentine’s Day is the idea that couples have to be reminded to do something nice for their special someone once a year. I wouldn’t like to be in a relationship that I never got any random treats out of (I live for treats, after all). I don’t like the way it can make single people feel either, which can range from rage to disgust.

I do, however, like recognising it as another day of the year to give your loved one(s) a little treat. It would feel weird to let it pass by without a little exchange of treats. I’m not quite sure if that makes me a hypocrite or a twit, or just a big softie underneath my tough exterior*.

I usually wake up earlier than Niall on Valentine’s Day so I can make some toast and slather it with honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon and cut it into heart shapes, then bring it up to him for breakfast in bed. He’ll get me some flowers – not roses – or nice chocolates – not Roses – and we’ll make each other horribly-drawn homemade cards.

This year, inspired by Instagram photos of homemade heart-shaped scones by Yvonne from Hey Pesto! I got up early this morning to sneak downstairs and start baking before Niall got up. The result of my pyjama-clad efforts were some Cheesy Sentimental Scones. Have a look at the recipe after the jump if you’re searching for a savoury treat for your loved ones today. Or even if you’re just into scones, rather than Valentine’s Day.

I followed John Torode’s method for Wensleydale scones but I left out the mustard and cayenne pepper, used Irish cheddar and added thyme instead. Below is the recipe I used for my scones.

What you need for 10 – 12 Cheesy Sentimental Scones

400g self-raising flour

80g of cold butter

150g of cheddar cheese

2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Pinch of salt

200ml of milk

Pre-heat your oven to 220C/fan 200C/Gas Mark 7.

Start by sifting the flour into your food processor. Cut the cold butter into cubes and put into the food processor along with the flour. Whizz until the mixture looks like very fine breadcrumbs. 

Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub together any chunks of butter that the food processor might have missed. Now finely grate the cheddar cheese and add 100g of it to the mixture, leaving 50g behind for sprinkling the top of the scones.

Pick the leaves from the thyme sprigs and mix into the flour mixture. Add the pinch of salt and mix well.

Now put the 200ml of milk into a saucepan. Over a medium heat, gently warm the milk. You only want it to be luke-warm and not hot. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the milk rather than trying to multi-task as it will overheat very easily. 

Add your warm milk gradually to the flour mixture, until you have a soft but quite flaky dough. In recipes, they always warn not to over-knead as it will make the scones tough. I’m still not quite sure how to define over-kneading but I usually just gently try to bring the mix together until it’s a relatively secure ball of dough. 

Put the dough on to a lightly floured surface, and using your hands, flatten it out until it’s about 2cm thick. I find it usually sticks to a rolling pin and your hands work perfectly as a flattener for scones. Use a heart-shaped cutter (or a regular one if you’re not feeling romantic) and cut out 12 or so scones. 

Use butter to grease a baking sheet and put the scones onto this.

Glaze with milk and sprinkle the 50g of grated cheddar cheese evenly over the tops of the scones. Put them into the hot oven and bake for another 12 to 16 minutes, until well browned and cooked through. 

If you have made bigger scones, obviously they’ll take a bit longer to cook. When they’re golden and browned on the outside, they’ll be done on the inside. 

Whether you’re only half into the idea of Valentine’s Day like myself, or you love it or loathe it, I hope you have a lovely day today. And a lovely tomorrow for that matter. Why not?

*This was a joke. I’m about as tough as cream cheese.

KITCHEN TUNE

Ah, go on, let’s have a bit of loveliness from James Vincent McMorrow with his cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love.