These savory cheese scones are deliciously light, cheesy and comforting. They're easy to make and perfect to snack on, to make into mini sandwiches or serve in place of a bread roll with a meal (not to mention with afternoon tea).
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Growing up in the UK, British scones were a staple when it comes to baking. I might be showing my age, but muffins hadn't particularly made their way across the pond and while some European treats like croissants were available now and then, they certainly weren't something you made at home.
In general, scones are slightly sweet, but you can also get savory scones, like these tasty bites. The basic process for making them is much the same, just you add savory ingredients - cheese typically the main one - to change their flavor profile.
What goes in cheese scones?
Scones are really simple, with the core ingredients being flour, butter and leavening. These scones are made in the British style with milk rather than cream and plenty of good, strong cheese. The cheese is key - don't skimp on flavor as you will tell the difference. I'd suggest a strong or reasonably mature cheddar for these.
To this, you can add a couple additions to add to the flavor like chives, and mustard as I used here. You could use a little cayenne instead of mustard, and you can try other herbs or eg some seeds. Bacon can be a great addition, though it does make them a bit of a different scone, in my mind.
Whatever the variations, they are packed with flavor but still feel relatively light so are perfect to enjoy in so many ways.
What do you eat with cheese scones?
Being savory, it opens up a whole different set of options to top them. You can keep it simple with butter, of course, and while it might sound surprising, many jams can still be good, or some honey.
However you can also get that bit more creative and make a mini sandwich such as with cheese, ham, smoked salmon and/or a chutney. Many savory spreads can work, too, like guacamole, pesto or pimento cheese.
Given the different options, you can also serve them for different occasions. They can be used in place of a bread roll alongside a meal or with soup, or you can add them in to an afternoon tea with tea sandwiches, cakes and sweet scones. Or make them into a lunch with various fillings.
How big should you make them?
How you serve these will probably influence the size you make them. For afternoon tea, you probably want on the smaller side, while to make a sandwich-size you may want a bit larger.
While American-style scones are often cut into squares or triangles from the whole piece of dough, British scones are more often cut with round cutters.
Top tip: don't twist the cutter
One of the key things if you use a cutter is to not turn the cutter as you press it down. This helps the layers be separate and so rise up as they bake. Twisting can make it more likely that you drag dough sideways and it sticks together. If you use the fluted edge, then it's easy not to accidentally twist (and they look cute).
Here I used a 7cm/2.7in diameter cutter - the size is a little bigger after baking to give a fairly generous individual serving as a side, or to make a smaller sandwich. You would probably want to make them smaller for an afternoon tea (and so you will get more).
Tips for making scones
Scones don't take long to make, or have many ingredients, but a couple things to remember:
- Use cold butter - you want to have small chunks in the dough, which then help to give layers as they melt as the scones bake. This works best when the butter is cold.
- Work the dough as little as possible - you really want it to just come together. First, only have the butter as crumbs in the flour - this can either be by rubbing it in, or some people like to grate the butter to achieve this. Then, add liquid until and mix so it just sticks. It might be a little crumbly, but as long as it more or less holds as you press it together. This all helps to give those little chunks of butter in the dough that create layers as it bakes.
- Gently press the dough into a thick slab. Again, this helps to not work the dough too much. British scones are generally all about height, and that comes from a combination of a reasonably high amount of raising agent, the layers (as above) and starting with thick-cut scones. Around 1in/2.5cm is good.
These cheese scones are easy to make, packed with flavor yet with a nice lightness to them, too. They're perfect to snack on, serve as part of a meal, make into a sandwich and more. They're a delicious savory treat.
Try these other savory snacks:
- Gougères (French cheese puffs)
- Savory palmiers (crisp pastries with cheese and fig jam)
- Chorizo cheese twists
- Spinach fatayer (spinach filled pastries)
- Plus get more snack recipes, both sweet and savory, and British recipes in the archives.
- 2 cups all purpose flour plain flour
- 1 ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder ideally English, but not essential
- ¼ cup butter cold
- 4 oz strong cheddar strong/mature cheddar, coarsely grated (4oz = around 1 ½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon chives finely chopped volume
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon milk to glaze
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- Place the flour, baking powder, salt and mustard powder in a bowl and mix them together well.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl, then rub the butter in to the flour mixture to form coarse crumbs. Alternatively, you can coarsely grate the butter into the flour and mix through.
- Hold back around 2-3 tablespoon of cheese, then add the rest of the cheese and the chives to the flour-butter mixture and toss them together to mix.
- Add the milk and mix until it just comes together - be careful not to overwork it. I often start with a spatula or knife then use my hands briefly to bring it together. It may be slightly crumbly, but as long as it sticks when you press it together it is probably fine. If still a lot of flour at the bottom, you may need to add a little more milk, though just a little at a time.
- Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface then bring it together into a gently flattened slab, around 1 inch/2.5cm thick. Don't worry if it's not smooth. Use a round cutter (suggest fluted, I used 7cm/2.7in diameter, but a little smaller also works) and cut rounds close together, to minimise offcuts. Take care not to turn the cutter as you cut the scones out.
- Transfer the cut scones onto a lined baking sheet/tray with a little space between them. Once you have cut as many as you can, gently press together the offcuts and cut out additional scones, repeating if needed to use all of the dough. Brush the tops with the additional milk then sprinkle over the reserved cheese on the tops.
- Bake in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown on top.
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